One area where telecom companies may be able to avoid becoming dreaded “dumb pipe” providers is in the connected car. AT&T already is making considerable progress on this front, as an announcement from the company today illustrates. According to the announcement, the company’s AT&T Drive and AT&T Drive Studio initiatives announced last year are gaining substantial traction.
AT&T Drive is a modularized connected car platform that lets automakers pick and choose from various capabilities – including billing, data analytics, infotainment, firmware over-the-air updates and others — to create a customized offering. Today’s announcement highlighted five new application providers for AT&T Drive, including:
- AetherPad, a provider of remote support capability for drivers and cars
- Audiobooks.com, a digital audiobook distributor that lets end users listen to books in their car, then synch them to tablets or other devices so the users can continue to listen on those devices
- Dash Radio, a digital radio network founded by DJs
- Eventseekers, a personalized service to recommend events in a user’s area and enable users to quickly invite friends or purchase tickets
- Glympse, a location sharing platform that now integrates multiple “touch-points,” including connected cars, mobile devices and wearables
AT&T also announced a sponsorship agreement with Samsung involving IMS-software, AT&T Drive Studio and various Samsung devices, including handsets, tablets and wearables. AT&T Drive Studio is a 5,000 square foot showroom for connected car technology.
Some connected car solutions use a “tethering” approach in which the customer’s smartphone is used to control in-vehicle capabilities, and Samsung apparently wants to maximize that opportunity.
AT&T Connected Car Strategy
AT&T’s focus on the connected car already seems to be generating strong results. As of October 2014 the company was supplying wireless connectivity for almost two million vehicles and hopes to increase that to 10 million by 2017.
As today’s announcement illustrates, connectivity isn’t the company’s only connected car opportunity. AT&T has wisely recognized that automakers may prefer to hand off a large part of the platform development process — and that only makes sense: If AT&T’s modular and customizable approach works as intended, the company will be able to spread development costs over multiple automaker customers while also enabling each automaker to have a differentiated offering.
In 2015 AT&T expects to serve nearly half of new mobile-connected U.S. passenger vehicles. Recent research from Parks Associates suggests that one third of U.S. broadband households are interested in a connected car.