As the auto industry transitions into the age of Internet-connected vehicles, both challenges and opportunities await automakers and the plethora of technology providers that will help them along the journey. The new automotive revolution will drive connected car business development for years to come.
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In this article, we explore how the connected car ecosystem will provide incentives and market pathways for companies that are prepared to innovate in the highly-complex, and highly lucrative, connected car industry.
Connected Car Market Size
Connected vehicles are filling dealer lots at an increasing rate. Industry experts predict a quarter billion of them will be on the road by 2020, with market value reaching $141 billion globally by the same year. Contrast that with the paltry $24 billion market in 2014 and you can see a significant trend.
Whether the connected car industry remains a nascent market, or has moved beyond the definition, is up for debate. What is certain is that the auto industry is on the verge of transformation, and that the changes it experiences will create business opportunities well beyond the showroom floor.
Business Opportunities in the Connected Car Ecosystem
The connected car ecosystem is an ever-increasing collection of technologies that underpin the growth of the connected car industry. Bringing order to such a dynamic array of disciplines is not straightforward. One could diagram the vehicle IoT ecosystem in a number of ways, including OEM vs. third-party solutions, onboard vs. external solutions, and so on.
For the purposes of our discussion, we will explore five major components of the ecosystem, along with a few of its subparts, to see what business opportunities they present for the year ahead. Since the full scope of the connected car ecosystem is beyond what a single article can fully address, we will focus on opportunities that are either really new, or not so new but still really hot.
1. Connected Car Cloud Services
The user experience for connected car drivers and passengers depends on access to fast and reliable cloud-based services. This will become more crucial as autonomous cars gain acceptance. From maintenance diagnostics to monitoring child drivers, nearly every byte of data that leaves the vehicle will target a cloud platform. The necessity for cloud platforms translates into one of the biggest business opportunities in the connected car industry.
While Microsoft’s Azure platform, along with other platform providers, have already carved out their own share of the market, the field remains wide open. Of particular importance is the need for blockchain solutions created specifically for the connected car market. Requirements for connected car cloud platforms will include the following:
- Low latency
- High security
- Reliable performance at high data rates
Only blockchain offers all of the above within a single solution. Market opportunity exists for those who can provide not only DLT platforms, but OEM and third-party onboard cloud-based products, as well.
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2. Connected Car Apps
You can bet one thing: anyone who buys a connected car will have a phone full of apps. You can bet another thing, too: anyone who buys a connected car will expect to have apps that let them interact with their vehicle, no matter where they are.
Two companies that are charting the course for connected car app development are Mojio and Smartcar.
Mojio has developed a universal app for the connected car market. The Motion app, available for iOS and Android, offers the following features:
- Enabling parents to monitor the driving behavior of their child drivers
- Helping drivers locate where they parked
- Diagnosing vehicle malfunctions.
- Reporting fuel level and battery voltage to your smartphone before you go on the road
It does other things, too, and allows service providers to offer their own branded app.
Smartcar approaches the market from a slightly different perspective. Rather than offering an app, Smartcar develops APIs and SDKs to help developers create apps for connected vehicles.
With funding from NEA and Andreessen Horowitz, Smartcar aims to fill a void by working toward an industry-standard API. Whether or not they achieve that objective, they are doing their part to help the industry avoid compatibility issues. By working with automakers, app developers, and service providers, Smartcar hopes to pave a smooth road between OEMs and app developers, for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
Mojio and Smartcar do not hold a monopoly on the connected car app market, they merely dominate it out a lack of competition. Even within the scope of the products they offer, tremendous opportunities exists for app developers to create the apps drivers need and expect for the road ahead.
The infotainment system comprises a host of software applications and services that deliver information and entertainment to drivers and passengers. Among them is the following short list of features:
- Social Media
Now, let’s look at the business opportunities they provide.
The music CD is dead. After more than three decades of dominating the post-vinyl market, the compact disc as a music distribution medium is singing its own swan song. Electronics retailer Best Buy announced that it will pull all music CDs from its stores on July 1, 2018. Stunning to some, the news should not come as much of a surprise for those who have noted the exponential growth of the music streaming industry.
What this means for automotive innovators is the opportunity to capitalize on the even greater demand for streaming audio services. As CDs become more and more scarce, music fans who previously clung to their silver discs will have no choice but to turn to streaming services for the music they enjoy.
With more than 250 million users, Pandora has demonstrated well the business viability of offering ad-based and subscription based streaming services. Connected car offers its own set of opportunities for companies that can deliver similar music streaming services within the infotainment system. Viable solutions might offer features such as these:
- On-demand services that play songs according to voice command
- AI-based algorithms that accurately suggest songs and artists similar to the ones the user likes
- Access to the users home music library while in the vehicle
Apart from Microsoft’s cautious ramps-up of its Microsoft Connected Vehicle initiative, not much is happening in the connected car/office productivity space. Not that there is a huge demand for applications that can enable you to build a spreadsheet while navigating rush hour traffic, but if there is one office application that bears looking at, it is email.
With nearly 300 billion emails sent per day, the market opportunity is clear for those who can provide email services through vehicle platforms.
Obviously, the only feasible way in which drivers could access email would be through voice command. Even so, the field is wide open for service providers that can develop solutions in this hot market. Here are a few ways email solutions might be configured for connected car use:
- Audio notifications of emails
- Filters that allow only emails from certain senders to be announced
- Voice-to-text email composition
- Conversion of text and PDF attachments to speech
Weather information is big business, as demonstrated by 24/7 weather channels and the popularity of weather apps and website widgets. The automotive market offers new opportunities for development this area.
The problem with radio-based weather forecasts is the lack of customization. Regardless of their unique needs, each listener receives the same information. By providing infotainment solutions that can be tailored to the user’s personal preferences, the existing mobile market can provide new ad-based revenue sources for innovators.
Such a solution might include the following customization features:
- Notification filters so that only specific weather information such as rain or wind would be announced
- Weather assistants that suggest the best days for certain activities on your calendar
- Highly localized weather reports, prepared from V2I data.
Such customizable solutions could put a new spin on weather forecasts, and new cash in the pockets of solution developers.
Nothing is bigger than social media. From Facebook to Tumblr, providing a place for people to interact has proven to be lucrative for those who can pull it off. Capitalizing on the social media market means engaging users in the channels they want to use, rather than trying to attract them to your business model.
The challenge for the automotive industry is discovering how to convert visual experiences to auditory experiences for the driver, while providing a seamless visual experience for passengers.
Mercedes-Benz has given the issue some thought, and foresees a time when your car will know where you are going when you get in, based on your social media posts. Maybe, but in the meantime, figuring out how to know who is sitting in the back seat and automatically displaying their profile on their in-car monitor might be pretty lucrative.
An even greater market exists for products that allow drivers to hear the latest post to their Facebook page, and to allow them to reply without taking their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road — at least until autonomous driving becomes the norm.
Making social media a natural part of the connected car experience does not require a leap in technology. It does require imagination, investment, and innovation. The company that has all three can capture their fair share of this niche market.
Key areas of development will include:
- Visual to audio translations
- Speech command of social media platform navigation
- Customized filtering of social media alerts so as to not distract the driver
- Voice to text social media postings
4. Communications and Connectivity
The networks and communications solutions that move data to and from vehicles provide huge market opportunities for capable innovators. With the U.S. Department of Transportation mandating V2V communications for all new cars by 2023, the time is now for those who want to play to get in the game.
DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communications) is becoming the industry standard for V2X communications, which includes:
- Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V)
- Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I)
- Vehicle to Home (V2H)
Companies that can develop DSRC-based solutions can find lucrative pathways into this crucial market.
Whereas infotainment systems provide entertainment, and information not deeply related to the vehicle critical systems, telematics is more involved with the management of vehicle systems and the exchange of related data to and from the vehicle. Telematics represents a strong market for developers and investors. Among the many opportunities in the telematics space are:
- Traffic enforcement
- Fleet management
Let’s look at those closer.
While insurance and maintenance diagnostics are hot topics when discussing connected car technology, one possibility for development in the telematics space is not so often talked about — connected car and traffic enforcement.
As controversial as the subject may be, connected car technology provides new ways law enforcement can work to keep the roads safe for all of us. A few ways include:
- Enabling vehicles to automatically report to local law enforcement if the driver exceeds the speed limit by a significant margin so that police can respond
- Allowing police to electronically and safely reduce a vehicle’s speed when the driver refuses to stop for lights and siren
- Notifying police if either driver or passengers have outstanding warrants
Although implementing these capabilities will certainly be accompanied by heated debate, there is no debate that they will be utilized sooner or later. Companies that arrive early with solutions can capture this niche market. While remote kill switches have been explored since 2014, connected cars allow for police to safely slow the vehicle to a stop without the dangers associated with abruptly stopping a vehicle.
The security of connected car data and networks is more than a privacy issue, it can also be a life-and-death issue if hackers infiltrate a vehicle’s critical systems. Such a threat has been demonstrated by white-hat hackers on more than one occasion, and no doubt real hackers are hard at work trying to replicate their successes.
Threat vulnerabilities generally come from four sources:
- Attacks va third-party/aftermarket products
- Compromised telemetry transmissions
- Unsecured software and firmware updates
The threats facing connected car security cannot be overstated. Numerous partnerships within the data security and automotive industries have emerged to combat the cyberthreat menace, but much more work remains to be done.
For companies seeking a way into the IoT automotive market, security solutions represent a pressing need. Here are just a few of the areas needing solutions:
- Code verification for security vulnerabilities
- Hardware and software firewalls for connected car
- Secure wifi gateways that limit threat exposure from mobile devices
- Hardened APIs that limit access to critical vehicle systems
Cybersecurity is a complex field, and only those who can push the boundaries of existing technology should endeavor to serve this lucrative market.
Fleet management companies were early emracers of IoT solutions. With the growing IoT infrastructure, it only makes sense to tap the power of IoT for managing fleets more effectively, more safely, and more efficiently.
Despite the abundance of existing fleet management solutions, the market remains strong for development of fleet solutions.
A particular deficit exist within the connected vehicle ecosystem for IoT nodes that can communicate with fleet vehicles. IoT fleet management holds the promise for traffic systems that can do the following:
- Inform vehicles of the most efficient route
- Offer solutions that can interface with vendors and customers
- Provide V2V networks that can connect fleet vehicles with the traffic around them
Unfortunately, delivery on these promises has been slow.
The growth of fleet management depends on robust development of the IoT ecosystem. Opportunities will never be greater for those that can deliver in this lucrative market now.
How Ignite Can Help
The connected car industry is at a unique place in its long history. For the first time, its future success depends on industry outsiders to provide technology solutions for the challenges it faces. The partnerships that emerge will be profitable for automakers and technology providers alike, and will pave the way for connected cars to take over the roads in the years to come.
Ignite is such a technology partner. Our skills and experience make us uniquely qualified to develop your connected car solution. As a leading provider of outsource development solutions across the globe, we are experts in every area of connected car technology, including automotive tech, big data, cloud-based platforms, blockchain, and mobile app development.
We operate six R&D labs across Western Europe, enabling us to serve you regardless of your geographic location.
Why not contact us today for a no-cost consultation?