Putting Consumers in the Connected Car Driver's Seat

by Jennifer Kent | Nov. 14, 2014

As the connected car space heats up, startups are joining major players from various industries in jumping into the market. Leading tech giants like Apple and Google, mobile carriers like AT&T and Telus, and major digital media companies like Pandora and ESPN are staking their claims to the dashboard.

Last week, another new player jumped into the connected car market. Mojio, a start-up based in Canada, launched its connected car solution, which consists of a mobile app, a 3G cellular device that plugs into vehicles’ OBD-II ports, and an open platform designed to support third-party apps. The last of these is the most significant – but more on that in a second.

Like Mojio, several companies are attempting to bypass the auto manufacturers and take the connected car experience directly to consumers. Zubie, for instance, has been on market for about a year, costs $99, and allows consumers to receive alerts regarding their vehicle’s performance, share their location with others, and monitor their teens' driving patterns, among other activities.

The trend towards delivering car and driver data directly to consumers is important. Vehicles produce an enormous amount of data, including both vehicle performance data and driver behavioral data. Auto OEMs typically control access to data collected via embedded telematics modules, but data collected via connected aftermarket devices are shared with the consumer. This approach undercuts one of auto OEMs’ potential avenues for monetization of car connectivity: selling access to vehicle performance data (e.g., to dealers or third-party mechanics) and driver behavioral data (e.g., to insurers). With direct access to their vehicle and driving data, consumers will have more power over selecting mechanics and auto insurers.

The market for these types of solutions is favorable: consumer demand for connectivity services in vehicles has been primed by their experience with smartphones; the addressable market for vehicles without a connectivity solution is enormous; and major retailers are getting on board. Best Buy will be carrying Zubie for the holiday season, and Mojio just launched on Amazon.

What sets Mojio apart is its platform, which exposes vehicle data to app developers through APIs. Through Mojio, app developers from any number of industries can offer consumers new app experiences based on their own personal vehicle and driving data. As evidenced by the success of the smartphone app ecosystem, the availability of an open app development ecosystem will almost certainly result in valuable new innovations for drivers and the businesses that serve them.

More detailed perspectives on the evolving connected car ecosystem, including an assessment of leading connected car use cases and business models, are included in Parks Associates’ industry report Connected Cars: Revenue Opportunities.

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