Tony Camilli

Senior Product Management and Technology Professional

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Filtering by Category: Connected Car

Automatic's BYO Telematics | The Verge

Automatic is a combination app and hardware unit, launching this May for $69.95. It mixes your car's data with Google Maps and gas pricing info to create a comprehensive record of every trip you take, tracking fuel efficiency, acceleration and engine alerts. It's a familiar playbook — opening up a legacy tech into the mobile world — but few companies have tried it on the automotive world. And with backing from Y Combinator and Founders Fund, Automatic has the resources to give it a shot.

In the connected car space, there are a few basic approaches: dumb car (BYO telematics and infotainment), connected telematics/BYO infotainment, or connected telematics and infotainment.  A majority of cars on the road fall into the first bucket.  A growing number of cars are falling into the second bucket (think of all GM cars with OnStar).  The third is an area of heated debate within the industry - driven mainly by debates around who pays for the data and radically different development cycles between telco networks and vehicle lifecycles.

This solution from Automatic is interesting because it can address the largest part of the market - the legacy non-connected cars.  It could even address the second bucket because GM doesn't alway like to share it's data with you.  So in that sense it makes this interesting.

I'm am a bit wear of ODB-II, however.  In the US it has been fairly standardized for quite a while.  Worldwide that is definitely not the case.  In addition, most manufacturers implement the bare minimum data set over ODB-II and the rest of the data is either in obfuscated, proprietary formats or even encrypted.  Internationally, you also run the risk of voiding your warranty by plugging a 3rd-party device into the ODB port.

At any rate, this looks pretty compelling and at $70 could be worth a try.

GM adding AT&T LTE service to 'most' vehicles starting next year | The Verge

GM has announced this morning that it will start deploying LTE service from AT&T in its 2014 cars and trucks to deliver drivers "enhanced suite of safety, security, diagnostic and infotainment services."
Also unclear is how the service will be billed or priced: there aren't any announcements being made at this point, but AT&T's Glenn Lurie noted that low-bandwidth services (uploads of diagnostic data from the car to your dealer, for instance) could be free or billed by the manufacturer, while higher-bandwidth services could be billed directly by AT&T or even bundled in a subscriber's Mobile Share plan alongside phones and tablets.

This is an interesting announcement from GM.  Shifting OnStar from Verizon to AT&T isn't that earth shattering (although it does mean adding SIMs).  However, the use of LTE and the mention of infotainment may have broader implications.  Certainly, LTE brings in a range of infotainment options. However, mobile network technology changes much more quickly than the typical car purchase cycle.  In 5 years, when your still spry car can't connect to a presumably ubiquitous LTE-Advanced network, you may wish you had a BYO connectivity implementation like Ford or Toyota.

Billing is also an interesting question.  GSMA has been working on reprogrammable embedded SIMs for some time now.  However, that doesn't solve the problem of billing telematics traffic to one party (auto manufacturer) and infotainment traffic to another (car owner); even more complicated would be putting that infotainment traffic on a shared data plan.