The Connected Car: Welcome To The Next Computing Environment

Since the launch of General Motors' OnStar service in 1996, a portion of new cars has shipped with embedded cellular connections, making these vehicles part of the Connected World. Now, vehicle manufacturers are preparing to significantly increase the prevalence of these connections in their new products, and — more importantly — employ high-speed broadband in place of the narrowband modems of the past.

The connected vehicle is now emerging as a unique computing environment, distinct from the office, home, and on-the-go not just because it's in motion, but also because of its significant constraints and its composition of user- and vehicle-driven elements. Connected cars create opportunities for:

  • Carmakers. Beyond the core telematics offerings like emergency calling and automatic accident notifications, automotive OEMs have begun to offer connected entertainment like Pandora and information services like Google search. But they've learned the hard lessons of OnStar, and, rather than attempting to drive revenue with these services, they are using connectivity to give more reasons for customers to choose and stick with the carmaker's brand.
  • Mobile operators. Now that carriers' future revenue growth is being driven by customers adding devices to their plan and bumping up the associated allocation of megabytes, cars fit nicely alongside smartphones, tablets, and other data-hungry devices.
  • Application developers. The dominant use model for applications in the car is yet to be proven — whether built-in, running purely on a personal device, or via a bridge between the two such as the Car Connectivity Consortium's MirrorLink technology. Irrespective of how they get used, applications will continue to be the innovative force that enables new experiences.

But the real engine (sorry) of the connected car experience is the transformation of the amalgam of vehicle and user data into usable and actionable information. That's why all manner of automotive outsiders, from infrastructure vendors to cloud specialists to analytics providers, are vying to position themselves as uniquely able to supply the mix of skills and tools needed to perform this alchemy. I invite our Forrester clients to read more in the new report "The Connected Car: Prepare For The Next Computing Environment."


There can be no debate as

There can be no debate as with any technological advancement, this "Computing Car" has the potential for greatness.

The possibilities for these advancements are seemingly endless for the end users (Driver, Passenger, Mechanic, Sales Person ) I can't even begin to think of all the things a "connected" car could provide. I.E. There are countless sensors that can provide real-time feed back, which could now be available "Online" for analysis by those needing such information to trouble shoot, monitor and adjust fuel efficiencies real time, play your favorite tune after you hum a few bars. And let's be honest who wouldn't want to know how there 17 year young son is REALLY driving their car?

These advancements in innovation are also exquisitely desirable for the providers of them as well (auto manufacturer, ISP, App developers, insurance companies, and Government Agencies...don't think they wont spy on you John Q. Citizen. I think they have proven they will. ) And let's be honest what INSURANCE COMPANY wouldn't want to know how your 17 year young son is REALLY driving your car.

The question at hand here is not whether it is possible to make our cars "smart", in todays technologically advanced world that's a "no brainer". The underlying question is, in our political & economically driven environments, where information and cash are "POWER", how much of our "Personal Security" are we willing to risk to obtain the "Luxuries" we "should not be without?" How is better actually..."BETTER"? What must be sacrificed to achieve Better?

ONLY when those questions can be clearly answered will intelligent cars really be the answer to our driving frustrations. Other wise they may only add to them!

Important to me

What is important to me, as these advancements are implemented on vehicles today, is that it should not be isolated to the vehicle but rather always integrate with the outside world, like my mobile phone. I don't need to depend on a car display that cannot be upgraded and doesn't advance with time. Rather let the sensors be where they are but provide us with the means to collect, interpret and present the data through every day devices. These should not be limited to the vehicle.