Blended Mobility: When Your Car is Your Mobile Phone

  • January 2014
  • -
  • Frost & Sullivan
  • -
  • 10 pages

This SPIE explores the dynamics of a blended mobility environment, as well as the impact this will have on consumer buying decisions. It will be of interest to telecommunication carriers, automobile manufacturers and those companies who provide them with technology.

Introduction

Many years ago, the author of this SPIE was an Army Signal Corps officer. In that prehistoric age, he was responsible for radio communications for a Cavalry unit, and had to maintain an inventory of radio equipment. One of the items was a short wave radio; and, in the list of authorized parts for this radio was listed: M-557 Armored Personnel Carrier (one each). A 17-ton tank was considered to be simply a component of a radio system!

As ridiculous as this example may seem, the consumer communication services market is quickly making conventional automobiles an adjunct to the communication devices that users carry. For example, in-vehicle telematics, once considered something of a solution aimed at an exclusive market, is set to enter the mainstream in a significant way.

Major telecommunication carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, are already engaged with automobile manufacturers to embed 4G communications capabilities in every automobile that is delivered to the market. Many entry level players, such as Charmtech Labs, are also introducing innovative ways to access this new connectivity.

Potentially in the future, the automobile will be considered not just a mode of transportation, but the seamless fulfillment of an action initiated over a wireless communication network. For example, the driver speaks “non-fat latte near work” and the latte order is placed, the electronic wallet debited, directions to the coffee shop near the speaker’s work location are assembled and programmed into the automobile’s navigation system, and the driverless automobile negotiates through traffic to arrive at the coffee shop at the very moment preparation of the non-fat latte completes—nirvana!

This profound blending of transportation with wireless mobility introduces new considerations for both the vendors of the enabling technology as well as the consumers who are expected to buy it. Consumers will increasingly be asked to choose cars based not only on such considerations as horsepower and aesthetics, but also on such features as wireless coverage and communications suites. It is likely that at some point the value assessment will swing in the direction of communication functionality. When that happens, a car lease may look like a wireless calling plan that also happens to include a car—for a small additional monthly charge, of course.

This SPIE explores the dynamics of a blended mobility environment, as well as the impact this will have on consumer buying decisions. It will be of interest to telecommunication carriers, automobile manufacturers and those companies who provide them with technology.

The Mobile Consumer

Mobility defines the consumer in today’s market. In fact, mobility defines our society in a way that is unprecedented in history. In Medieval times, a person was born, lived, worked, and died in an area bounded by a day’s fast walk. That person never saw anything outside that rather small circle. Today, people travel farther than that to get a cup of coffee.

This mobility is enabled to a large extent by automobiles. The modern automobile enables a consumer to commute to work, shop in distant retail centers, go on vacations on a whim, and otherwise define his or her circle of activity not on the basis of how far one can walk, but by how much gasoline is in the fuel tank.

Yet, this mobility has historically come at a price: the potential of being cut off from information and communication while driving. Cell phones have changed this dynamic considerably. Now, mobility is associated with being able to communicate on the move; interacting with people and data when disconnected from landline communication facilities. And cell phones are more or less ubiquitous.

Simply having access to a mobile device, though, does not guarantee uninterrupted use. In particular, unless a person is walking and able to devote some attention to the device in question, it is likely that the ability to communicate is left largely to those instances when a person has stopped traveling: what many in the industry refer to as nomadic use, rather than true mobility.

The Mobility Equation: Where the Car Fits

As noted above, just carrying a cell phone does not mean that the consumer is continuously communicating. Especially in the context of automobile travel, cell phones can be distracting; and, if the cell phone also happens to be a smartphone, there is a potential for serious consequences, which is why many municipalities and some states prohibit texting and driving. Yet, most people spend a great deal of time traveling: the U.S. Department of transportation estimates that, on average, people spend over an hour a day traveling from one place to another.

Although listening to the radio or communicating on a cell phone provides a degree of “getting something else done,” interacting with data, content and information services has been problematic, at best, and has been actively discouraged by local statute in some cases.2 When the average time spent in a car can exceed an hour—considerably more for those who commute to work every day—this represents a significant amount of separation from information and entertainment.

So, the essential issue for mobility has been how to seamlessly integrate communication capabilities, both for voice and data access, into the personal automobile.

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

1 | BLENDED MOBILITY: WHEN YOUR CAR IS YOUR MOBILE PHONE

SPIE 2014 #4 - January 31/2014
1. Introduction
2. The Mobile Consumer
3. The Mobility Equation: Where the Car Fits
4. Opportunities for Operators
5. Stratecast - The Last Word
6. About Stratecast
7. About Frost and Sullivan

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