Detailed system and semiconductor demand analysis for in-vehicle infotainment, telematics and vehicle-device connectivity features.

November 18, 2010 11:11 rlanctot

Fifteen years after OnStar launched its embedded telematics system in North America car makers are still struggling to deliver the ideal telematics system. Part of the challenge is that telematics has become many things, though it began as a basic safety and security proposition intended to guarantee the swift response of safety personnel in the event of a crash.


Today, telematics is fast becoming an all-encompassing application platform including infotainment, navigation, location-aware advertising, traffic data, stolen vehicle recovery, and electric vehicle apps. The original vision has been obscured. The comprehensive infotainment vision remains a work in progress. And the promise of a fully realized customer resource management proposition remains unfulfilled.


Part of the problem is the interference of public and private organizations... Please register to read the complete report

November 10, 2010 23:11 rlanctot
Mercedes-Benz recently launched its annual Winter Event, shortly after concluding its multiple-year legal confrontation with ATX, according to industry sources. The Winter Event includes an offer of 36 months of free mbrace telematics service for buyers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles who use Mercedes Benz Financial services and runs through January 4, 2011. Neither Mercedes nor ATX chose to comment on the report. The official statement: "ATX and Mercedes Benz jointly filed a statement (on Oct. 27) with the court that the lawsuit has been resolved. The companies have put together a process to allow for continued service to those Mercedes-Benz owners who wish to continue to receive services through their Tele Aid devices (at the consumer's discretion). We consider it a privilege to provide connected vehicle services to over 200,000 consumers with Tele Aid devices." ATX is the existing service provider for the Tele-Aid telematics service. Hughes Telematics is the new telematics service provider for the (renamed) mbrace service which includes a smartphone app platform. Both ATX and Hughes have been competing for new and existing telematics customers and will continue to do so. Details of the current situation were previously reported here:  It is likely that ATX, currently in the process of adding new OEM accounts such as Toyota, is seeking to project a more non-confrontational image in the industry. The resolution frees up Mercedes to project a more consistent marketing message including, at some point in the near future, advertising that will incorporate mbrace. To date, OnStar has been the only auto maker describing telematics services in mass media messages. Interest and demand can be expected to grow in North America as more car makers launch embedded and smartphone-based telematics systems. Europe is also seeing the first stirrings of eCall compliant deployments. Additional Insights: - Automotive Sensor Demand Forecast 2008 to 2017: Global Economic Rebound Sparks Growth - Mark Fitzgerald - Automotive Electronics Service - Automotive Sensor Demand Forecast 2008 to 2017: Global Economic Rebound Sparks Growth - Datatables - Mark Fitzgerald - Automotive Electronics Service - Consumer Implications for Smartphone-Vehicle Connectivity  - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights - Consumer Interest High for Connected Safety and Security Services - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights

November 4, 2010 20:11 jcanali
Technorati Tags: ,,,, Ford Motor Company’s Dr. Louis Tijerina, senior technical specialist, research and advanced engineering, is worthy of special mention following Nuance’s Automotive Summit last week for his concluding presentation. In his comments he pointed out the overwhelming conclusions from the dozens of studies that have been conducted regarding distracted driving correlated to mobile phone use:
  1. Manual interfaces are significantly superior to voice interfaces for task duration for a wide range of functions across a large number of different studies and tests including naturalistic, simulator and even data from GM’s OnStar division. But voice interfaces outperform manual interfaces when correlated to lane keeping, speed maintenance, car following, eye glances, object and event detection and “subjective assessments.”
  2. Talking/listening in hands-free or handheld modes on a mobile phone are both significantly, statistically safer relative to a wide range of other distracting activities, including consuming food or drink, based on a recently released Virginia Tech naturalistic study of 13,000 vehicles over a 90-day period using DriveCam video monitors.
  3. A study of Sync use co-authored by Dr. Tijerina found Sync voice interfaces statistically superior to manual interfaces for everything but digit dialing and answering incoming calls. Voice had the advantage for eyes-off-road time, standard deviation of lane position, percent of trials with a lane exceedance, maximum speed difference and pedestrian detection task reaction time.

Source:  Ford Motor Company, Oct-10

Dr. Tijerina proceeded to carefully deconstruct the sources of misinterpretation and flawed methodologies that have been exploited by regulators and lobbyists involved in the distracted driving debate. In spite of his extraordinary presentation and lengthy responses to audience questions, there is no doubt the distracted driving discussion will continue unabated. It is also certain that car makers and their suppliers will make further advances toward safer user interfaces.

November 2, 2010 20:11 rlanctot
Nuance’s Automotive Summit, which took place in Detroit last week, highlighted the leadership position Nuance and one of its most prominent customers, Ford Motor Company, now command in the area of automotive interfaces. While battles may continue to be fought over voice, touch, haptic, and other in-vehicle interfaces, these two companies are positioned at the vortex of the debate leading the charge to develop and deliver safe vehicle interfaces and redefining the automotive branding process. The assumption of this leadership mantle occurs at a time when car makers and their suppliers have been running for cover under heavy fire from regulatory powers in Washington, DC. And the Feds have taken on the added support of lobbying groups and some research organizations. The Federal government’s regulatory arm has stepped into the roadway seeking – like a speed-gun wielding traffic officer – to impede the industry’s headlong advance toward connectivity and smartphone integration in cars. Car makers and the supplier community, by and large, have taken one of two courses. Most have remained silent on the issue of the day – driver distraction – hoping it will either go away or that some white knight, such as the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers or some other group will calm the waters for them. Others, such as General Motors’ OnStar division, Volkswagen, and QNX have chosen to hit the accelerator. In recent weeks, OnStar has announced its plans to enable Facebook connectivity in the car. Volkswagen and QNX have posted YouTube videos showing early executions of terminal mode smartphone connectivity. These videos show all forms of smartphone images displayed in-dash with no context – ie. no discrimination between what will and won’t be accessible when the vehicle is in motion. In contrast, Ford has been reaching out to regulatory authorities on multiple fronts. The very same week OnStar was announcing Facebook connectivity, Ford representatives – together with Nuance executives – were meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington with legislators explaining the state of the art in voice-based in-vehicle interfaces. Prior to this outreach effort, which is ongoing for both legislators and regulators within the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford also responded to complaints from the DOT’s now-famous director, Ray LaHood, and altered some of its advertising imaging and messaging. This was LaHood’s first missile fired across the bow of Ford’s Sync interface. The advertising messages are critical. Both Ford and OnStar are running some of the most highly visible television ad campaigns in the U.S. showing off their in-vehicle systems – at a time when both firms are fighting their way out of the steep sales decline of 2009. It is absolutely essential that both companies communicate effectively with so much unwanted attention being focused on these systems and with important sales and market share on the line. OnStar bears the added burden of embedded telematics industry leadership. No other auto maker has taken the embedded telematics approach as far as OnStar which now, after 15 years, has nearly six million subscribers. But with diminished vehicle sales and a virtually unchanged renewal rate, OnStar is facing a potential erosion of its subscriber base. In spite of all it has done to offer compelling solutions to consumers, the company now feels pressure to do more to boost its subscription renewal rates. The company is also swimming against a strong demographic current as GM’s historical customer base has aged. The company is clearly looking to OnStar to not only maintain its previous status as a profitable division by maintaining and adding to its existing subscriber base, but also as a potential source of demographic stimulus to reach out to younger car buyers. GM is not alone in reaching out to younger buyers. Almost every car maker is in a perennial campaign to tap into the next generation of car buyers. And with smartphone purchasing demographics corresponding with this target market, the smartphone connectivity proposition has become essential. (GM and OnStar are somewhat limited by the current vehicle offering which lacks for a robust line-up of small cars targeted toward a younger demographic.) The advertising targets can hardly be missed in the existing television spots which show young people interacting with OnStar systems to obtain location or vehicle information. (A minor pet peeve of this analyst is that it seems that not all these young people, even when they are in the front seat, are seatbelted in the ads – but company executives insist they are all safely secured.) The OnStar television campaign dovetails nicely with GM’s parallel social networking marketing initiatives on Facebook, Twitter and other Web-based communication channels. The smartphone application for controlling vehicle functions and accessing vehicle data on the Chevrolet Volt is another manifestation of these efforts. What is lost in this campaign, though, is the rock solid safety and security message that brought OnStar to this industry leadership position in the first place. Ford has also been youth-oriented in its embrace of connectivity technology. Ford’s ads emphasize the safe use of technology in cars using voice interfacing technology. Watching these ads as a participant in the industry is mesmerizing given the degree of focus on the human machine interface in the car. (While this analyst would prefer the driver not touch the display while the vehicle is in motion, Ford has made clear its adherence to AAM guidelines and the limitations of this functionality in a moving vehicle.) What OnStar and Ford both realize is the need to reach out to younger car buyers. The key motivator here is the need to provide for smartphone connectivity, both for safety and functionality. Younger smartphone, and car, buyers are primary targets for location-aware applications ranging from traffic and navigation to social networking, according to Strategy Analytics research. The drive to connect smartphones is behind the enthusiasm for Nokia’s Terminal Mode initiative along with Apple’s iPod Out, Delphi’s D-Connect, Ford’s AppLink and similar solutions. But only Ford has stepped to the forefront with a vision and implementation of a walled garden-type approach to application deployment. There is a recognition in the industry of the appeal of both smartphone connectivity and application deployment. Ford talks about the beamed in, brought in and built-in strategies for delivering content, applications and services, but the underlying philosophy is control. The power of the Ford solution lies in five value propositions: Distraction mitigation: The voice-based interface minimizes eyes-off-the road time. Demographic targeting: The smartphone interface appeals to social networking young people. Future proofing: The Microsoft-based platform allows for application development and deployment thereby enhancing the value of the solution over the life of the vehicle. Subscription anxiety: The connectivity solution allows the consumer to defer the subscription decision and places the burden of data transport on the consumer’s existing wireless subscription. Branded HMI statement: Ford IS Sync. Ford IS MyFord Touch. The interface has become the brand. A new era in the automotive industry has arrived. At last week’s Automotive Summit, Nuance emphasized all of these points. Whether the solution being shown was the company’s touchpad character recognition, hybrid on-board/off-board speech recognition, enhanced echo cancellation/noise reduction, or focused search all were targeted at reducing distraction while providing a branding pallet for car makers and their suppliers. Presenters at the event, including Nuance executives and partners, pointed to research demonstrating the efficacy of voice and touch interfaces for specific types of tasks. Presenters raised questions regarding interfaces such as BMW’s i-Drive and touch screens generally, favoring voice and console-mounted touchpads (ie. the Audi A8). The consensus opinion appeared to be that touchscreens will survive, thanks in part to Ford’s success in proving the value of the solution. On the other hand, i-Drive-like interfaces will likely continue to come under fire as what one executive described as a “linear keyboard.” Now more than ever, though, rigorous research is being applied to weigh critical HMI decisions and eyes off the road time is more than ever a deciding factor. Conclusions: The next step in the process of realizing the potential of smartphone integration is enabling application downloads. Several solutions have been proposed including: Direct handset display: Nokia Terminal Mode approach. Walled garden: Ford application deployment approach. Application validation: Delphi et. al. provide application validation. Single application: Handset application controlling access to all apps. App store validation: Apple, Blackberry et. al. provide application validation. Carrier validation: See above. What is likely to emerge is a hybrid of on-board/off-board application control shared between the vehicle and the mobile device within the context of an OEM’s walled garden. When available, server resources will assist with application functionality such as search or streaming data or content. But regardless of the source of data or service, the entire solution on-board and off-board will be encompassed by the OEM’s walled garden. The vehicle and data security associated with OEM control will increasingly be non-negotiable. Challenges to this ecosystem are already emerging as application developer candidates for the Ford platform are expressing frustration with the process of putting the Ford software developer kit to work. Ford is seen as slow to respond to developer needs, a problem that is not expected to be resolved soon. OEMs will never be able to move at developer speeds especially where vehicle safety, security and integrity are at stake. So, new voice-based interfaces and Bluetooth wireless connections have enabled a new branding proposition in the industry coinciding with growing demand for safe mobile phone connections, a youth-oriented demographic outreach (particularly in compact car segments), and the need to future proof cars to keep up with consumer electronics market advances. More than ever cars are defined by their human machine connections. Ford and Nuance have much for which to be thankful and many of those thanks ought to be directed to Ray LaHood in the Department of Transportation. Much as most industry executives are want to complain and criticize the DOT for its single-minded anti-distracted driving campaign (when drunk drivers are actually responsible for more damage), the effort has focused consumers on their risky behaviors, opened the door to creative solutions, and stimulated demand following the industry’s worst ever downturn. Additional insight: - Consumer Implications for Smartphone-Vehicle Connectivity  - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights - Smartphone Market Evolution and the Automotive Opportunity Implications - Mark Fitzgerald - Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service - Automotive Connectivity: Beyond Bluetooth Solutions - Mark Fitzgerald - Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service - Consumer Interest High for Connected Safety and Security Services - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights - Smartphone Market Evolution and the Automotive Opportunity Implications -Fitzgerald - Automotive Multimedia & Communications

October 22, 2010 15:10 rlanctot
The battle is on to capture the most and the most accurate traffic incident data on a global scale. Several strategies are being deployed to collect this information including traditional journalistic traffic reporting and a growing variety of technology-based solutions including GPS-based probe solutions or GPS Floating Vehicle Data (GFVD) from smartphone and connected PND makers and carriers to cellular network-based probes (CFVD), video cameras, mobile phone camera probes and crowdsourcing. GPS-based probe data networks are particularly popular with companies ranging from TomTom and Nokia to Inrix, Google and RIM. The significance of the emergence of probe data is the fact that any organization with connected devices, applications or vehicles on the road is a candidate for delivering probe data. The industry is facing a proliferation of probe data sources encompassing everyone from Waze, Skobbler and Navigon to OnStar, TeleNav and TeleCommunications Systems. The CFVD crowd includes TomTom, AirSage, iTIS Holdings, Cellint, Intellione, TrafficCast and a few others. The inaccuracy of probe data, GPS or otherwise, is stimulating interest in license plate scanners, tolling networks and Bluetooth roadside scanners from companies such as Bluetoad. In fact, TrafficCast has already deployed or received approval to deploy Bluetoad scanners in 20 states. The Bluetoad technology with its range of up to 200 feet picks up signals from passing Bluetooth devices which have become nearly ubiquitous in mobile devices. The beauty of Bluetooth scanners is that they can precisely identify both the roadway and speed, making them ideally suited to creating flow data. The downside, of course, as with all sensor-based sources, is the high cost of deployment – usually borne largely by local DOTs who gain access to the data – and the not infrequent failures to which they are prone. Of course, all of these solutions are only really able to act as proxies for identifying incidents as they can only identify the results and not the causes of backups. That is where cameras and observers and journalistic data from companies such as Clear Channel, Westwood One and Navteq’s come into the picture. Two years ago this analyst was a strong believer in the power that video could bring to the traffic data reporting and interpretation game. When I met the team at TrafficLand I came to believe that I had found the ultimate solution for the driving public: show people what the traffic disturbance is rather than tell them. TrafficLand had – and has – a near monopoly on DOT traffic camera installations, but its real value add is managing those images on the back end. TrafficLand not only captures most of the data but it also serves it up to handheld devices and Websites and, soon, to automotive head units. Alas, a lot can change in two years. Cameras do play an important role in traffic reporting and interpretation, but the cameras that are likely to make a difference are not the ones mounted along highways. Front-facing mobile phone cameras are the new frontier waiting for a clever entrepreneur. More than one industry executive has talked to me about the potential power of a network of camera probes transmitting real-time traffic camera information from the road. The user interface is a potential issue as is the required bandwidth, but what is a market changing proposition without a few challenges? There is more than one way to make such a network come to pass, these executives suggest, including everything from a dedicated dashboard camera to a smartphone-mounted device to a forward-facing camera on a PND or even the use of existing on-board cameras. Solutions already exist. Navigon has shown augmented reality navigation solutions using forward-facing cameras and Imaginyze has a lane-departure warning app based on a similar device. There is even a company, Apollo Video Technology, with an iPhone app to allow transit officials to view live video feeds from buses, trains, police cars and transit vehicles. Even the execs working on the Next Generation 911 solution for the U.S. are looking for ways to integrate video and text reporting of incident information from smartphones or other devices. It shouldn't be too long before a crowd-sourced traffic solution is introduced for smartphones that allows for the automatic uploading of photos and video stills from a dashboard perspective of traffic conditions under predetermined circumstances. To make such a crowd-sourced solution effective requires a sufficiently large and connected network of users and an automated application. In fact, it is almost shocking that neither TomTom nor Nokia have taken the leap into crowd-sourced traffic video feeds. Or is it? While I was a big fan of integrating traffic video feeds into navigation solutions two years ago, with today's emphasis on mitigating distracted driving the idea has lost significant traction. In fact, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is on a personal jihad to ban even voice calls while driving. Video is important and can be powerful, but the time is not right and the concepts currently in the oven - including Visteon's TrafficLand app - need more time to reach maturity. What is available today, however, is crowd-sourced traffic data from Inrix via its iPhone app (and soon on Android). The app-based Inrix system is the most complete solution, designed around one-touch incident reporting along with the ability to validate the entries of nearby drivers as well as to share the resulting data with local departments of transportation. Aha Mobile has been combining its own crowd sourced inputs with Inrix flow and Clear Channel incident data since late 2009. In fact, Inrix's approach stands as a model for future crowd-sourced traffic solutions with its tools for ranking participants and identifying "trusted sources" and the integration with local traffic authorities. Since June, 47 of 50 state DOTs in the U.S. have adopted Inrix's agency model for sharing this user-generated data, which the DOTs are able to view on the large screens in their traffic operations centers and then check by dispatching their own responders. Inrix says it is processing these crowd-sourced traffic feeds in real time thereby revolutionizing traffic reporting. In this way, Inrix is distancing itself from the existing competition through the integration of an entirely new source of data and a closed loop approach. The challenge for Inrix, though, is the limited size of its probe network, based on users of the downloadable iPhone app.  To have an impact Inrix, mainly seen as a white box supplier to the industry, will need a little help from its industry friends. Crowd-sourced traffic information has become the new standard and Inrix is setting the bar. Waze may claim to have the largest user population worldwide, but the company has chosen not to integrate other corroborating traffic information sources. Fusion of multiple types of data sources is a critical foundation for using crowd-sourced data, along with building  validation processes. Inrix has the largest North American population of users and has recently rolled out its apps in Europe. It is collaborating with ClearChannel in North America and other incident providers internationally for journalistic data. Crowd-sourcing of traffic data is nothing new. Crowd-sourcing by mobile phone users has been around for decades. It is only recently, though, that smartphone apps have enabled the automation of the process and, now, with Inrix's system, the integration of crowd-sourced data into local DOT traffic feeds - although Inrix traffic app users get the data right away, including inputs from nearby drivers. What is curious is that Inrix, while not the first to market with crowd-sourced traffic, is the first to take it to a level where it is integrated with official traffic feeds. While the crowd inputs are validated or rejected by other users on the network, the local DOT is also involved in the validation process. The open line of communication with local DOTs also means that real time street closings and openings can be transmitted along with incident validation. Inrix is not alone. TeleNav has a crowd-sourcing function for its app and TrafficTalk has been testing a crowd-sourced offering. Harman's Aha Mobile and competing mobile platforms will no doubt seek to bring their own offerings to market as well. Looking at the Inrix model, one has to wonder why TomTom, OnStar, ATX, Google, Nokia, RIM, TCS or TeleNav haven't moved in the same direction. OnStar has its good Samaritan function for reporting accidents, but there is no provision for instantly integrating an OnStar user-reported accident on the in-vehicle navigation/traffic display  - let alone sharing it with public authorities in real-time. The same is true for ATX. Conclusion: The automotive environment is ripe for crowd-sourced applications, which already include the reporting of speed traps (Trapster). The world of thumbs up/thumbs down, check-ins and trusted providers of reviews/data is rapidly proliferating on mobile devices and migrating into embedded automotive solutions. It is fitting that traffic information lead this migration since this form of data is of the highest relevance to drivers and rapidly changing. The power of crowd-sourcing of traffic data has the dual effect of creating a new source of incident data along with its own validation process. One of the greatest challenges to creating reliable traffic information systems is validating journalistic data inputs. The crowd is able to view live traffic data, create new data and validate that data. The next step is to open the taps to other data types from parking and gas pricing to weather and event information. Eventually, crowd-sourced video will work its way into the mix as well - and probably sooner than anyone expects. Additional insights: - Navigation Heuristic Evaluation: Telmap5 – Schreiner – Automotive Consumer Insights - Automotive DMB Digital Radio: Marketing Strategies an Increasing Priority – Blight – Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service - Automotive Telematics Services: Shifts in Pricing and Monetization Expected – Canali – Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service - Connected Vehicle and Vehicle Device Connectivity System Database by Feature, Region, and Price 2010 – Canali – Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service - Connected Vehicle Telematics: Car Maker Profiles – Canali – Aumotive Multimedia and Communications Service -# Traffic Data Quality Will Determine #Telematics Winners - Lanctot - blog - Strategy Analytics

October 6, 2010 16:10 rlanctot
TomTom’s marketing machine was in overdrive last week with announcements of a new OEM relationship (Mazda) and advances with existing partners (Toyota, Renault), enhancements to its (European) market-leading traffic solution (HD Traffic) and a traffic manifesto. But undoing all that positive spin was the note that the company still wants to charge about $50/year for its Live Services. It looks like TomTom didn’t get the latest email about automotive value propositions. As connectivity comes to more vehicles, drivers (and passengers) will get more of their content and services from the “cloud.” What this means is that car makers will increasingly have in place systems for sending, receiving, processing and managing all types of vehicle data – the “back end.” (This is not unlike what is happening at your average NASCAR or Formula One event every weekend – without the parking space availability and Internet radio.) The value of this data is manifest to the car makers for better understanding the performance of their vehicles on the road as well as better understanding how consumers use and abuse their cars. The implications for cost avoidance, warranty and recall management are in the millions of dollars of savings. There is no immediate or obvious benefit to the driver. For this reason, this kind of vehicle connectivity ought to be free. (On the other hand, OnStar and others have demonstrated that people will pay for safety and security.) As more drivers shift to smartphones (with mandatory data plans) with access to a wide range of content and services, they will be less likely to pay for any service from the car (or PND) maker that is available for free (or for which they are already paying) via their mobile phone. So how is the industry (and TomTom) going to monetize all this connectivity? Enter the back end value proposition. Auto makers and Tier Ones have gotten the message and recognize that driver and passenger eyeballs and “click-throughs” have value. A driver asking for directions to a restaurant or movie has economic value. A system that knows the location of the driver has value. Beyond this, a system that is able to provide a broader “cloud” perspective of all location-related activity – including everything from prosaic traffic information to “heat” maps of gatherings of people, weather, etc. – has other value-add implications for drivers, passengers and roadway systems and public transportation overall. But in the short-term, vehicle related information for diagnostics, safety and entertainment take priority. Continental, Harman, Visteon, Delphi and Pioneer clearly understand this. All of these companies have introduced systems or platforms that seek to leverage vehicle location information for commercial opportunities. Even Best Buy’s connected PND delivered sponsored links in its Google Search. Unfortunately, Tier Ones face an uphill struggle in trying to get a piece of this action. The telematics eco-system consists mainly of a telematics service provider (ie. ATX), a carrier (ie. Sprint or Verizon) and a system integrator (ie. TCS). Each of these operators is interested in the other’s business – with the possible exception of the call center. (No one wants the call center hot potato – too much cost.) While the call center tends to be shunned, the data back end tends to be either misunderstood or underestimated. But the back end system is rapidly becoming the backbone of the system altering the competitive landscape. The power and influence of back end systems is visible to the consumer in the growing variety of free content and services via smartphones. Google probably has the largest back end system currently influencing developments in the automotive market. With its free navigation, traffic and search and an open source operating system, Google has rattled the industry mightily over the past two years. Carriers, meanwhile, are trying to fight there way in – not content to be simply white label suppliers of bandwidth. Among the carriers sniffing around the telematics back end opportunity are Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Telenor, Orange, AT&T Mobility, Vodafone and Ericsson. All of these companies recognize that their servers are as valuable as their networks. Some of these companies fancy themselves Tier One players. At least three handset makers have the potential to rise to the Google challenge: Nokia, Apple and RIM. Like Google, Nokia is offering free navigation while also seeding the market with open source development tools (Qt), operating system softare (MeeGo) and smartphone connectivity technology (Terminal Mode). But Nokia remains ambivalent about the automotive opportunity. MeeGo is not ready for market and Ovi has not been designed for automotive opportunities. RIM brings a unique value proposition combining its smartphone system experience with its newly acquired QNX automotive expertise. RIM represents the most immediate threat to Google’s potential dominance in the automotive market because of its potential to deploy navigation and traffic applications (based on handset probe data) and its ability to monitor, manage and mine its network data traffic. Apple’s strength lies in its secure systems for managing commerce for downloading applications and enabling the purchase of content. For these reasons, Apple and RIM both have the scope and scale to add value to automotive opportunities. The massive giveaway of content and services by both Google and Nokia is a setup for capturing click-through traffic and back end processing opportunities for creating metrics and analytic output. Google already has the analytic tools in place, unlike Nokia. The current landscape for back end services is highly fragmented and includes companies such as TeleNav, Airbiquity, Hitachi, TeleCommunications Systems, Hughes Telematics, WirelessCar, Oracle and IBM, along with the previously mentioned wireless carriers, RIM and Apple. (Strangely, Microsoft seems to have disqualified itself – having disbanded its automotive business unit. The original vision defined by Microsoft at multiple industry events included integrating more and more Microsoft solutions such as Bing, Tellme, and Silverlight into automotive platforms, but the complete vision – including back end services – never materialized. The one exception to this no-show for Microsoft are the company's ongoing efforts to capitalize on the Bing search engine.) The value proposition of back end service providers revolves around secure management and processing of vehicle and driver data for applications ranging from vehicle performance and safety to content and infotainment and, ultimately, commerce opportunities. Neither OEMs nor Tier Ones are equipped to manage this opportunity and traditional telematics providers lack the scale. The lack of scale is one reason Airbiquity has partnered with Hitachi to service Nissan’s connectivity needs around the world. It is likely that companies such as Hughes and TeleNav will seek partnerships with larger integrators such as IBM or Oracle for the same reason. Nokia, like RIM, already has the scope and scale and like Apple already has the commerce platform (Ovi) but, unlike Apple, has done little beyond the introduction of terminal mode to optimize its offerings for automotive. TomTom is another player in need of a partner to provide the scope and scale necessary to compete in the connected space. The larger organizations that are able to monetize the connectivity proposition will force out smaller players dependent on subscription revenue. If TomTom can enhance its navigation and infotainment platform to include safety and security telematics, it will greatly improve its value proposition and the likelihood of building a devoted subscriber base. Conclusion Google and RIM are best positioned to leverage the back end data processing opportunity presented by the automotive industry. Google faces trepidation among potential OEM customers who are suspicious of the company’s motives and objectives. Google’s failure to validate its Android OS for automotive applications is another stumbling block. Nokia has discrete elements of a solution in place but so far lacks the commitment and execution to challenge either Google or RIM. Apple is a wild card player in a market that remains fragmented with the door open to new entrants. Microsoft's Bing search engine is another contender gaining traction, but, in the end, Microsoft is more of an arms supplier to the contesting parties. Winners in the battle for the back end will be those companies able to bring security and state-of-the-art analytics and commerce management to the automotive industry. Google knows analytics. RIM knows security and network management. It remains to be seen whether Nokia or some dark horse will step forward to challenge these two dominant players, but the race is on. Additional Insight: - Consumer Implications for Smartphone-Vehicle Connectivity  - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights - Consumer Interest High for Connected Safety and Security Services - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights - Smartphone Market Evolution and the Automotive Opportunity Implications -Fitzgerald - Automotive Multimedia & Communications

September 17, 2010 10:09 rlanctot
Mid-week thunderstorms in Detroit appeared to be Mother Nature’s comment on momentous industry events, but it was Harman International that stole OnStar’s thunder with its announced acquisition of Aha Mobile. While OnStar celebrated its 15th anniversary by announcing plans to offer voice-enabled access to text messages and Facebook, Harman’s Aha Mobile acquisition introduces the prospect of the first cloud-based telematics solution. The timing of the two announcements was extraordinary in juxtaposing two very different visions of the future of telematics. It showed OnStar still struggling to create a solution capable of stimulating organic consumer demand, while Harman is showing the way toward a platform capable of responding to and moving with changing consumer requirements. The Harman announcement also defined a third path – different than both the dominant OnStar embedded and Ford Sync connected solutions. It is a path likely to rapidly attract adherents and converts – especially given Harman’s command of the high-end infotainment market. The greatest challenge facing the telematics industry is the inability to get consumers to pay for additional subscription services. This shortcoming is manifest in the free months and years of service that are offered to prospective telematics subscribers and the corresponding retention rates of, at most, 50%. The free service is a lie, of course, since the system cost is already baked into the price of the vehicle. But the proposition is described to the customer as a giveaway, which has multiple negative connotations. As a giveaway, the telematics service is immediately perceived as either not having any value OR as something the customer will not normally request and be willing to pay for. This is a very shaky foundation for any industry. In fact, giving away anything is usually the first step toward that product or service being discontinued – with the possible exception of navigation. A good example of this phenomenon is satellite radio vs. Internet radio. Satellite radio continues to be subsidized by the service provider with a free subscription period for the consumer. The high cost of the service and hardware is masked by the supplier’s subsidies, but the cost remains and it is because of this cost that satellite radio is increasingly a consumer-selectable option or is no longer offered on a growing proportion of cars. In contrast, the millions of users of Internet radio services have demonstrated that they will go out of their way and pay handsomely for the privilege of accessing this service. Car makers and carriers could not kill consumer demand for Internet radio even if they wanted to. The fact that satellite radio is subsidized and offered “free” to the consumer is a long-term predictor of failure. The automotive telematics industry faces this same prospect every day. Rare is the Mercedes, BMW, GM or Toyota customer that crosses the dealer threshold requesting telematics services. In fact, dealers are hesitant to mention these services because of the occasional customer that might want the system removed from the car! (Don’t believe everything you read about OnStar’s claimed influence over GM vehicle purchases. Those messages are coming from OnStar, not GM.) It is in this context that OnStar announced the prospective capability for drivers using the Gen 9 system to receive audio Facebook updates and to receive and send text messages. The group also announced what it described as a platform offering the “potential for open development.” The focus on Facebook showed OnStar reaching out for an application that will offer users daily relevance – something missing from run of the mill safety and security applications. But this laser focus on a single application misses the greater goal of enabling GM customers to safely access any application they may desire. OnStar scores big points for identifying the most popular application within its target demographic, but what it misses is the ethos of that customer base which is freedom and personalization. This is where Harman scores with its Aha Mobile acquisition. While OnStar is testing and recruiting university students to cook up creative application concepts, Aha Mobile has already created a cloud-based location aware platform purpose-built for automotive environments, that is voice-enabled, traffic-data enhanced and ready for integration into automotive solutions. More important, the Aha Mobile strategy is to rapidly deploy application programming interfaces to enable the latest applications regardless of what they may be. In other words, it isn’t all about Facebook. Aha Mobile’s success is built on a portfolio of content and applications delivered in a manner suitable and responsive to the user. There are other Aha Mobile-like platforms, such as Aloqa, representing the latest wave of cloud-based aggregation solutions. But Harman’s acquisition, coming on the heels of 18 months worth of divestitures of divisions, facilities and personnel, reflects its importance in the context of a telematics market seeking that elusive objective: organic consumer demand. It will be interesting to see which Harman client is able to push to the front of the line to deploy the Aha Mobile solution: BMW, Mercedes, Chrysler, Toyota, PSA, Volkswagen, Audi or Hyundai. Might OnStar be interested in deploying Aha Mobile? What about Ford? With the acquisition of this tiny start-up Harman may breathe life into a telematics industry in desperate need of a marketing lift. Additional insights: - Consumer Implications for Smartphone-Vehicle Connectivity - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights - Consumer Interest High for Connected Safety and Security Services - Chris Schreiner - Automotive Consumer Insights - Google, Nokia and New Entrant Positioning in Automotive Infotainment - Lanctot - Automotive Multimedia & Communications - Connected Vehicle Telematics: Car Maker Profiles - John Canali - Automotive Multimedia & Communications Service

September 10, 2010 14:09 rlanctot
In these times of economic travail it’s hard to believe that car makers are leaving money on the table, but they are and they have for many years. With car makers and carriers wailing about how to get consumers to pay for content and services a very obvious multi-million dollar (Euro?, Yen?) opportunity for add-on business for dealers and for the OEMs themselves has been left undisturbed – and Roadside Telematics has the answer. The amazing thing is that Roadside Telematics has been around beating a drum for its RoadMedic solution for more than 10 years – adding endorsements and winning awards – but failing to achieve much OEM recognition beyond Ford and Kia. The interesting thing is that this telematics solution requires no box, no call center, no fancy wireless connection, but it does require a smidgen of customer consent and a communications link to the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) – the same communications network leveraged by LoJack and OnStar for their stolen vehicle solutions. The beautiful thing about RoadMedic is that it solves an age old problem for dealer and car maker alike: how to capture the crash parts and vehicle replacement business opportunity from new and existing customers that have gotten into accidents. A damaged or totaled car can mean a lot of things to a dealer, the vehicle owner or the car maker. A damaged or totaled car can mean a chance to sell a new car or repair an existing car (still under a lease or other financing) with genuine, authorized parts. It can also mean the opportunity to provide roadside assistance and/or a loaner vehicle both of which services are already provided for in existing warranties or OEM sponsored roadside assistance plans, though the customer may not realize it. In others words, it is a customer service opportunity. The primary purpose of the RoadMedic solution, as made clear by its name, is to deliver emergency contact information to police officers responding to accident scenes. The problem is that due to a wide range of circumstances the amount of time that elapses, on average in the U.S., before family members can be notified is six hours. Roadside Telematics has secured the support and assistance of the American Association of State Highway and Traffic Officials along with a variety of other health and safety affiliated organizations including: HIMSS, IEEE, AHIMA, IHE, CCHIT, HITSP and GHSA to encourage the OEMs to collaborate and cooperate on the development and deployment of a nationwide emergency contact locator system, like RoadMedic. RoadMedic allows dealers to reach out to customers, with their consent and at their request, in the event of accidents to provide necessary services thereby strengthening the brand message. It’s a patented business proposition that Roadside Telematics calls “reverse retailing.”  The Roadside business model is dependent upon customers providing their emergency contact information at the dealership point of sale. The business model calls for OEMs to pay Roadside Telematics on a per-vehicle basis which is included in the wholesale delivered price to the dealership, similar to the existing business model for OEM sponsored roadside assistance.It is hard to believe, but in an age of proliferating vehicle connectivity, cars can automatically notify public authorities of an emergency situation, but there remains no provision for expediting a connection to family members or other designated emergency contacts. OnStar rolled out a system nearly 10 years ago with a partner called Global Med-Net. But the Med-Net solution – customer endorsements of which are still visible on the company’s Website – was fax based and overreached somewhat by trying to integrate medical information. The Roadside Telematics solution is officially characterized as handling health information in the form of emergency contacts. The Med-Net solution, in contrast, sought to include important medical history. This complicated the point-of-sale paperwork and when combined with the fax-based portion of the notification process proved fatal to the program. It was terminated in 2002. The Roadside solution will allow police officers using NLETS to tap into both the RoadMedic emergency contact database and DMV databases to locate appropriate emergency contacts – providing a critical customer service. In fact, it is an even more reliable service than existing embedded telematics systems or even mobile phones because the notification is based on the police look-up of the VIN# and not on an unpredictable carrier connection.But it is the accident aftercare opportunity that is most intriguing for dealers. A customer will be able to call the dealer for accident aftercare services such as towing or to obtain a replacement car. Today, most customers are provided a wallet-sized Roadside Assistance card which is often misplaced. Worse, the average customer does not even think of adding the roadside assistance card to their wallet or purse. At point of sale the customer can opt in for this accident aftercare and, in the event of an accident, the dealer will get an accident vehicle sales lead – which is where the patented reverse retailing model comes into play. The dealer then has the option to contact the customer to offer to repair the vehicle, with authorized parts, or replace it and/or to provide a loaner vehicle. Roadside Telematics estimates net average OEM results from RoadMedic implementation as rising from $5.5M to $23.4M over the first three years with corresponding revenue gains for dealers. Best of all, the philosophical objectives of the service fit well with the safety and security objectives of existing telematics sytems. Of course, there are also insurance implications to the Roadside Telematics proposition. There is no doubt that insurance companies will always want the earliest possible notification of an accident. The good news for insurance companies is that they are usually the first ones to get the call from a conscious driver, but in the event of a more severe accident they may not be contacted right away. Some car companies, most notably Kia Motors, have embraced the Roadside model, though none have implemented it. Ford conducted a test of concept in Texas in 2004 and Volvo has committed to a test in Los Angeles. Roadside’s goal is to see the system put in place globally and allows that a typical OEM might even seek to reach out to existing vehicle owners to implement the system retroactively, while dealers may want to apply the system to certified pre-owned cars. Conclusion: As someone who has bought four cars in the past 7-8 years and who continues to receive service notifications for cars I no longer own or that no longer exist (due to accident) this analyst sees a powerful business proposition for dealers, OEMs and insurance companies. As a dealer, I want to know when my customer needs a loaner or replacement car or maybe even a repair. As a vehicle insurer, I want to know when that vehicle, that may not yet be paid for, is damaged or destroyed and/or when and if the driver is injured. In fact, if the vehicle is going to be repaired, I will want it repaired with genuine parts. As an OEM, I don't want to lose a customer who may have lost their vehicle entirely. Clearly, car makers, insurers and  dealers can all agree on the RoadMedic value proposition - the public authorities already have.

August 3, 2010 05:08 rlanctot
The latest salvo from the Genivi Alliance – a SWOT analysis of competing automotive operating systems – appears to cloud rather than clarify the existing automotive OS market environment. The future prospects for current and emerging players are described with little supporting evidence or insight. The report also concludes – from OEM and supplier interviews – that the Alliance’s assumptions regarding cost savings are valid without providing a detailed financial analysis of where cost savings may be achieved – ie. head count, lines of code, etc. Not surprisingly, the self-serving report concludes that Genivi will rule the market in the long term with deployments beginning in the 2013-2015 timeframe ( The report initially sets out to provide a thumbnail view of current OS market leaders Microsoft, QNX, MicroItron, Linux and Android. Going without mention are Mentor Graphics, Ubuntu, OpenSynergy, Meego or even VxWorks (currently used by Peugeot-Citroen, Nissan and Volkswagen). Also missing entirely are Genivi members MontaVista and Wind River. Ostensibly, the goal of the report is to benchmark and/or handicap these various infotainment software architectures and their influence on in-vehicle infotainment systems; and to validate the cost savings claimed for Genivi’s code-sharing/recycling model. Missing is a detailed description of the actual software architectures themselves – ie. what makes one “better” than another. What is available in the report summary seems misleading such as a reference to Microsoft Auto booting slowly, which is also a shortcoming of Android, but which is also easily overcome. Also missing is a discussion of current market forces, strategic supplier relationships, recent mergers and acquisitions or potential mergers or acquisitions. The absence of these latter aspects means that Intel’s acquisition of Wind River goes without mention as does the merger of Intel’s Moblin platform with Nokia’s Maemo OS to create Meego – rumored to have been selected by Genivi as its infotainment platform of choice. (Press and Nokia reports have quoted senior Genivi representatives stating that Meego has been chosen for this purpose - No affirmation of this selection has come from any Genivi member other than BMW.) MontaVista’s acquisition by Cavium Networks and QNX’s purchase by RIM gets no attention in the report. Neither does TomTom’s decision to adopt the Webkit OS, a platform found in other segments of the mobile market such as Palm’s Web OS. (The report fails to note Bosch’s adoption of Linux or Visteon’s embrace of Genivi, Microsoft, QNX AND Ubuntu – hedging its bets.) These oversights are more significant than they seem as they suggest a lack of awareness of the symbiosis between mobile device operating systems and automotive hardware and software architectures. Additionally, the report repeatedly refers to “risk-averse” Japanese OEMs and tier one’s being hesitant to adopt open, Linux-based platforms – including anything from Genivi to Android.  This assertion is patently absurd given Clarion’s longstanding support of Linux. The report also paints a grim picture of QNX’s market outlook, suggesting the company’s app support is “difficult to configure” and that the company can be expected to withdraw from the IVI market entirely within a short period of time. This will no doubt be news to executives at QNX’s Ottawa headquarters where headcount committed to automotive projects is on the rise as are design wins. And the acquisition of QNX by RIM opens doors to automotive-related IP (ie. traffic apps) while adding access to a massive and growing installed base (ie. probes). Unlike all of the alternatives currently in the market, QNX currently offers a range of flexible, scalable solutions future proofed to support Adobe Flash, HTML5, Flash Air and Flash 10.1 and all mobile OS's. QNX is customer friendly with support unmatched by Linux-based competitors or Microsoft. By way of contrast, OEMs implementing Microsoft are finding they must enlist the aid of third-party developers (bSquare, Elektrobit, etc.) to customize Microsoft Auto to their requirements. Microsoft has left application development entirely to its customers and their partners. It is worth noting as well that QNX’s flexibility is an advantage vis-à-vis Microsoft. Where QNX supports nearly every potential application or implementation known to automotive engineers without favor, Microsoft is likely to push its Bing search engine, Silverlight graphics and other in-house offerings. The report notes that the next generation Microsoft IVI platform, Motegi (Windows Automotive Embedded 7), will launch with Japanese OEMs, though it provides no time frame. Microsoft indeed has at least two partners in Japan – Alpine and Mitsubishi – which suggests that either Honda or Mercedes may be implementing Motegi. The report neglects to mention QNX’s recent gains in Japan, including Panasonic and Denso, showing a deeper penetration of QNX into Toyota. In fact, QNX has benefitted handsomely and rapidly from its separation from Harman – immediately attracting attention from potential Japanese and Chinese customers. Where QNX is weakest is in developer support. This is precisely where Android shines. The report summary correctly identifies existing developers working on automotive Linux implementations – ie. Parrot, Continental and Roewe – and identifies the inclination of many designers in the industry to connect with Android but to keep it out of the central stack. The report also notes Google’s disinclination to support or endorse Android for automotive implementations, but leaves the door open to an embedded future for Android. (GM is thought to be considering an open platform such as Meego or Android for a future OnStar or infotainment launch.) But this points up a fundamental gap in the report, which is the wider context of the OS debate. Android and Genivi do not line up directly with QNX, Microsoft or Linux (pick your distribution). Genivi has always been positioned as a code sharing platform for infotainment systems - as such it has never been presented as a replacement for Microsoft or QNX. Android, similarly, is being pursued as an alternative for ultra-low-cost (entry level) platforms - typically those emanating from India and China - as well as a means for implementing revenue sharing models based on mobile applications in the car. The new Genivi report marks the first time the Alliance's platform is proposed as a replacement for QNX or Microsoft or any other OS, indicating a change in strategy for the group. This is where the group may be overreaching. Presenting Genivi as a one-for-one substitute for existing real-time operating system solutions is a different proposition from offering a code-sharing/recycling platform intended to reduce development costs. Obtaining industry buy-in to this vision will take 5-10 years, by which time the market may well have moved on to the next big thing. And as an industry coalition-driven solution, Genivi arrives untested in the marketplace. The report further attempts to validate Genivi’s vision for cost-reduced platform development, saying interviewees estimated IVI deployment cost savings of up to 50%. At the same time, though, the report acknowledges that initial implementations may cost even more than incumbent solutions. Justifying or validating proposed Genivi cost savings will continue to be a tall order for the Alliance. Conclusions: The Genivi Alliance’s IVI software architecture report provides valuable insights but is rife with glaring omissions, unsupported conclusions and errant assumptions. The report oversimplifies the automotive OS ecosystem and competitive environment and underestimates the influence of some incumbent players, such as QNX, and the emerging role of content and service aggregators including TeleNav, Inrix, Airbiquity, WirelessCar, TCS, ITIS Holdings, Navteq and Hughes Telematics. A few of these content and service providers were interviewed for the report. But not a single telecommunications carrier or handset maker – outside of Nokia - was interviewed. Even more obvious than these omissions, however, was the exclusion of both Audi and the joint venture with Elektrobit - the single most prominent, influential and competing IVI platform in the industry. The oversight is obvious and unfortunate. The forces that are determining the future of the automotive IVI experience are almost entirely developing outside of the car, so a wider base of interviewees should have been considered. The single greatest weakness of the Genivi Alliance is its inward focus on the automotive industry as opposed to an outreach to the wider world of mobile devices and consumer electronics. It is possible for Genivi to “win” in the long run and “challenge” (in the report’s own words) Microsoft, but the Microsoft embedded solution will always have the advantage of developer support from across a broader range of industries and the design priorities that those other user communities will contribute. Genivi’s narrower focus is at once its greatest strength but, in the end, its Achilles heel. <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--> <!--[endif]--> Further insight: Smartphone Market Evolution and the Automotive Opportunity Implications – Mark Fitzgerald – Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service - Automotive Connectivity: Beyond Bluetooth Solutions – Mark Fitzgerald – Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service -

June 27, 2010 14:06 rlanctot
Presenters at Freescale’s Technology Forum sought to clear the air on some fundamental automotive development questions. Chief among the topics debated at the event were operating system trends generally and Android specifically, and the emergence of automotive application stores. Representatives from OnStar, Kia, Hyundai, and Visteon as well as system integrators such as IAEC all agreed that apps are coming to cars. It does not appear to matter whether they are built-in, brought in or beamed in. They are coming. To cope, auto makers will confront the challenge with a few key priorities in mind: Safety Liability In-vehicle HMI Branding Security OEMs say they need to ensure that the vehicle can be operated safely; that liability issues are pre-empted; that key elements of in-vehicle HMI are properly integrated; that branding messages are preserved and not superseded; and that the security of the on-board systems and the customer’s information are maintained. For these reasons, OEMs will be seeking assistance to establish validation processes and criteria for apps coming into the vehicle. Liability stood out among these issues as a point of disagreement. While OEM representatives say car makers will be blamed for any app failure, and dealers will be forced to cope with these complaints, non-auto industry executives thought consumers would simply blame the app maker, telecom carrier or handsets supplier. Unfortunately, car makers cannot afford to gamble that they won’t be blamed for failures. Because of the magnitude of this task, OEMs are already adding staff for software development while partnering with third party developers to create their own approved, branded solutions. While some applications are being developed in house, most development activity is taking place within the software developer community to OEM specifications. The long-term implications of these developments are monumental when the need for software updates is taken into account. It also means that OEMs are in many instances taking on the role of being their own tier ones – a function first defined by Ford with the launch of Sync. Ford has pioneered and, some say, mastered the strategy of acting as general contractor for its Ford Sync system with its growing community of software developers and service providers. Companies such as Kia Motors, Hyundai Motor America and Toyota Motor Sales all have followed suit with varying degrees of success. OnStar has made no secret of the fact that it is hiring technicians and expanding its supplier eco-system as it modifies its hardware and software model to make room for the app phenomenon. Hardware tier ones such as Delphi, Continental, Visteon and Johnson Controls are attempting to step into the general contractor role as well, offering to play the role of application certifiers. The acceptance of these appeals remains to be seen. Visteon and QNX demonstrated application store and content aggregation platforms at the Freescale Technology Forum. Visteon’s solution was built on Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux distribution. QNX’s offering was based on its own OS, although QNX is able to implement ann Android-based solution, if required, via its abstraction layer. Other automotive software suppliers on hand at the event included Canonical, Mentor Graphics, Wind River, Green Hills and Microsoft. Given the rapid growth in developer support for Android and its proliferation in the mobile market, it is logical that there be a connection to the app store debate. Suppliers to the automotive industry continue to debate the question of Android in the car. But several presenters at the Freescale Technology Forum suggested the question was moot, not only because Android was simply another version of Linux, which is already widely distributed in the car, but because the automotive platform is already being implemented. Lingering objections to Android appear to boil down to two issues, according to a Freescale executive at the Technology Forum: boot time and versions. Android can take as long as 40 seconds to boot, as anyone who owns an Android phone can attest. Android supporters say the millisecond boot times required by automotive specifications can be achieved with hardware and software workarounds. With regard to the multiplying versions of Android, it is true that the platform is still at least partially in the hands of Google and new versions arrive on a regular basis. Additionally, the priorities for the propagation of new versions are governed by the exigencies of the mobile, not the automotive, marketplace. Android supporters say it is hard to imagine that any operating system platform will not be subject to change and updating, hence this objection does not appear to hold water. Freescale has waded into the debate with developer support for Android applications for mobile devices. Freescale has an i.MX51 evaluation kit with Android OS board support package (BSP). Freescale says its BSP is ready to be adapted to select i.MX platforms. “The i.MX51 multimedia applications processor running Android is an excellent platform for building a high-performance, low-power and cost-effective mobile device that successfully passes the Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).” According to an executive from Intrepid Control Systems (ICS), which has created an Android application - Sensor Spy - for extracting sensor data from a vehicle for triggering mobile device functions, Google retains control over access to a few aspects of Android including the Android Market, access to specific Google APIs, and access to cloud features such as voice recognition and push technology. But the ICS executive pointed out that Android can be used for its APIs and tools and that a home screen can be used to hide Android from the end user (via Mentor Embedded Inflexion UI). The ICS executive proceeded to describe how the Android model works concluding that Google TV may be an ideal automotive application. In conclusion, he pointed to the Android-based SAIC InkaNet optional connectivity platform introduced for the Chinese market earlier this year as the first automotive Android implementation. Indications in the industry are that it is only the first of many to come. Conclusion: App stores are a reality in the automotive marketplace. But automotive app stores will differ from the Apple App Store or Android Market. Automotive applications will have to be properly vetted for liability, security, HMI, safety and branding. For this reason, it is unlikely that car makers will be able to implement off-the-shelf application solutions. Car makers will be forced to create new supplier relationships and a new eco-system to support the app store model. They will be forced to do this in the context of an ill-defined path to revenue generation (from selling apps? from selling app-related enhancements or content?) in the hope that app stores will stimulate vehicle sales or as a customer-driven defensive response to the proliferation of smart phones and smart phone connectivity platforms in the automotive industry. The message from the Freescale Technology Forum: Like it or not, automotive app stores and the Android OS have arrived. Additional insights: - InkaNet – Mobile-Based Infotainment Comes To Chinese Autos - Automotive Multimedia and Communications Service - Kevin Mak - Enabling Technologies Forecasts A to E - Wireless Device Strategies - Bonny Joy - Automotive Semiconductor Demand Forecast 2008 - 2017: Datafile - Automotive Electronics Service - Chris Webber - Nokia and RIM Push Into Automotive as 'Apps' Competition Mounts - Automotive Multimedia and Communications  Service - Joanne Blight Intrepid Control Systems - Android OS for Infotainment: Advantages of an Open Architecture -