What's happening in the intersection of smartphones and cars
First they battled for space in your pocket, and now we're seeing an upcoming battle for your car dashboard and your home.
Mobile World Congress
This year's edition of MWC in Barcelona saw the preview of the new Samsung Galaxy S5 (heart rate monitor and fingerprint scanner included). Nokia showcased their new X line running Android, but we're still unsure what that means for the future of the company and their integration with Microsoft. Mozilla entered the conversation with plans for an incredibly low priced $25 smartphone running Firefox OS, and Ubuntu was seen with their first prototypes out. Sony launched a few new flagship products, but didn't sustain any major attention in the conference.
Geneva International Motor Show
Meanwhile in Geneva, things were getting electric, entertaining and integrated. We've seen the recent announcement of Apple's CarPlay integration with a range of car brands, which will battle with Volkswagen Group-backed MirrorLink for car dashboard supremacy. BMW is constantly putting in more meat into their i electric line, and we should see their i3 model hitting the US markets this year already. Their venture investment in the integration of Life360 seems to be a good indication of continuous car integration. Elon Musk's Tesla is already featuring a $100-dollar-per-year plan to connect their S models to the web, with users set to see a range of innovations there (an app for pre-heating car seats is already out there, and we see a not-very-distant future where cars are unlocked with finger sensor-enabled smartphones).
Our take on all of this
The era of the car connectivity is already upon us, but there's still room far beyond the smartphone, mobile carrier and car manufacturer trio. Brands and outlier startups can still enter this arena. Marketers and service providers that have covered the desktop and mobile arenas now have one more space to take care of if they want to keep relevant in all of their user's daily experiences. This is also true to the upcoming wearable devices arena.
There are still some technical issues to be covered before car connectivity becomes ubiquitous, but now is the time for brands to start designing and prototyping experiences for it. Regulatory issues will play a role here too, so it's still unsure what will be allowed or not in the futures. Voice recognition and voice commands will play a larger role too, so expect to design with that in mind.
Once car connectivity and mobile integration is covered, there's also an opportunity for car brands to once again attract new demographies and retain some of their customers by offering an outstanding mobile integration and in-car experience, in addition to just the regular fight for price, design and car specs. A different look at mobility concepts and collaborative consumption will also be enabled, like the co-ownership of cars, ride sharing, etc.
Interesting times ahead.