The Future of the Connected Car

Symbio US was attending the GMICSilicon Valley’s largest Mobile Conference this past week in San Francisco. This year, the GMIC hosted mobile executives, entrepreneurs, developers, and investors from around the globe and across platforms. The conference is designed to build partnerships, to learn from industry thought leaders, to better understand mobile technology trends, and to shed light on how mobile is positively changing the world.

Panel and panelists.

One of the most interesting panels was about the largest mobile device – the connected carParticipating panelists were the Director of Delphi Labs John Absmeier, the Global Technologist of Connected Services at Ford John Ellis, the Executive Director of Product Planning Strategy & Innovation at Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Hakan Kostepen and Toshiro Muramatsu, Director of Vehicle Information Technology Division Silicon Valley, Nissan among others, a pretty prominent panel. So what were they talking about and how do they see the future of the connected car?

Connectivity. Everywhere. 

Clearly, the connected car will be the next big thing. Very soon. Today, all of our devices are connected. Our phones communicate with our computers and tablets, and wearable devices such as smart watches and yes, lately also with our cars. So who will be the key player to watch out for when it comes to connected cars?

Manufacturers for Connected Cars.

A lot of car companies have been envisioning connected cars for a long time. Some of the cars available today such as the Nissan LEAF, which is accessible from a smartphone app, or the Tesla Model S which comes with a 17-Inch touchscreen display are already connected. And other car manufacturers such as Mercedes and BMW are also already working on their own connected car models.

And then there is “The Self-Driving Car” from Google. Connected and self-driving, will that be the future? Maybe. But wait, Google is not a car manufacturer by definition… and no, Google did not start manufacturing their own cars. The Google car is branded as the “Google Self-Driving Car” but it is actually a Toyota Prius! A software company making and defining what a car stands for – that sounds futuristic, and who would have thought about that just a couple of years ago? But it slowly becomes reality. It looks like in the future big car manufacturers will be providing the packaging, the car itself, with all its hardware features. But software companies are bringing the real value to the cars of the future – a real differentiation – the infrastructure and the ecosystem.

In the words of one of the panelists: “Tesla is a great software company that just happened to build an amazing car. That’s why they are and will be successful in the future.” In other words, “is Ford going to be the new Foxconn and Google the new Apple when it comes to connected cars?”

A car for Millennials. 

Let’s talk about the new generation of car buyers for a minute – Millennials. This generation is probably the reason for such a big shift in this industry. The digital natives – the generation that grew up in a connected world.

Millennials won’t buy cars the same way Baby Boomers did, or any other generation did. There are plenty of studies reasoning their behavior, when it comes to purchasing a car. Cars are not the number one status symbol anymore, as they used to be not so long ago. This makes the digitalization of cars a natural extension especially to get the attention and interest of upcoming generations.

Lifestyle is the New Must!

Cars used to be cool, the faster – the better. It used to be the looks, and it used to be the horsepower. Today, it’s the lifestyle that matters. And this brings us back to the Millennials. For this generation cars will be a lifestyle choice. Lifestyle is the new differentiator. When it comes down to it, there is almost no quality differentiation anymore. It’s time for cars to go mobile – it’s time for cars to become a part of our already connected world.

What does the future hold?!

Users will be looking for relevant data. Connectivity will enable safe delivery of content within our cars. Drivers are using their cellphones while driving, and the number of accidents happening due to smartphone use while driving is rising every year. Can a connected car change that? Maybe. It might at least stop drivers from watching at the smartphone screen while driving, and that alone will hopefully lower the number of accidents.

The bottom line here is SAFETY! We are looking forward to see what the future will bring, and what the car of the future will look like!