Not so many years ago, if you used the phrase “connected car,” you were either talking about an electric one that had to be plugged in for a long time in order to take a short drive, or one that was hooked onto the back of a tow-truck, being taken to the impound yard.
Look how far we’ve come in such a short time. As this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is demonstrating, companies are falling all over each other introducing the latest gadgets and hookups to make cars little more than an office or home entertainment center on wheels.
A report last year from ABI Research (News - Alert) backs this up: “Global OEM connected car system penetration is expected to increase from 11.4 percent in 2012 to 60.1 percent in 2017,” the findings found. “While penetration in the U.S. and Western Europe will exceed 80 percent by 2017, developing regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe will also see strong increases in telematics penetration in new vehicles, largely driven by mandates in Brazil and Russia.”
What this means is a market ripe for plucking, and savvy companies are wasting no time in strapping themselves in for the ride. The Motley Fool’s Daily Finance has already identified two companies quietly battling for supremacy in one area.
“Google and Apple [are] jockeying for position in this battleground on wheels,” Daily Finance said. “Google's Android (News - Alert) and Apple's iOS combine for most of the tablet and smartphone markets, and each wants their operating systems to power the connected car of the future, in which apps and services are a voice prompt or steering wheel button away.”
That’s heady stuff for any company to shoot for, considering how many new cars are purchased in the U.S. alone every year. Research firm Polk estimates that when the numbers are all counted, some 15.3 million new cars will have been sold in the U.S. in 2013.
It’s also good news for music provider Pandora (News - Alert), which just announced it will begin rolling out in-car advertising solutions this month. And major national brands including BP, Ford, State Farm and Taco Bell say they’re on board to take advantage of this first-to-market opportunity.
“Nearly half of all radio listening takes place in the car,” said Pandora Chief Marketing Officer Simon Fleming-Wood. “We knew early on that to redefine radio, we would need to seamlessly deliver Pandora through in-dash entertainment systems. With an 8.6 percent share of total U.S. radio listening and unmatched growth and adoption of Pandora in the car, we are now seizing the opportunity to connect advertisers with a more targeted audience than traditional radio can provide.”
In short, the connected car represents a wide-open frontier for those with the technology to take it on, and the guts (and money) to follow through. For those who are successful, it can mean a whole new income stream when none existed before.
Edited by Blaise McNamee