Deutsche Telekom: “In-car Internet and online services are becoming a reality”

Deutsche Telekom: “In-car Internet and online services are becoming a reality”

What does your company do?

Deutsche Telekom (DT) serves more than 200 million customers worldwide and with T-Systems, its corporate customer arm, is also among the top three automotive IT suppliers worldwide and number one for Europe. Our department in the T-Labs, the research and development institute of DT, deals with innovations regarding Internet and online services in vehicles, especially with usability issues, platforms (devices and IT backend), and business cases and business development.

How do you differentiate your offerings from your competitors?

Deutsche Telekom is probably the only company that can offer nearly everything in telematics except the devices. Most of the things in telematics are our business anyway, like connectivity, being a service provider, content aggregator, or IT integrator (e.g.,the German toll system). Many people do not know that T-Systems has a unique automotive DNA since it was forged out of debis (formerly Daimler IT) and gedas (formerly Volkswagen IT). Therefore, we even have substantial knowledge when it comes to embedded software in the car. This combined power can be found nowhere else.

2010 has been a year of recovery. What services or trends have been integral to this time throughout the industry?

From my perspective, 2010 has been a great year for the telematics community. All the signs tell us that in-car Internet and online services are becoming a reality for nearly everybody. One of the trends is the growing demand for HTML5. The rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) as the upcoming standard in mobile communication and data transfer has finally started, and we are going to see first consumer devices in 2011. Another thing that we saw is the breakthrough of cloud solutions, not only as a solution but also as a strategy. We were preparing for this for almost two years now, so we have our products already optimized for this approach. The great success of Android as a platform for mobile devices caused a stir, too. (For more on HTML5, see ‘Telematics and the next-generation Web’; for more on LTE, see ‘Making sense of new wireless technology’; for more on cloud computing, see ‘Cloud computing and fleet management’.)

What industry milestones have you recently achieved?

The business field of the ‘connected car’ has been acknowledged as one of the central pillars of Deutsche Telekom’s future growth domains. Right now, we are all working with the head of the connected car initiative, Horst Leonberger, to complete our offering portfolio. We started our project Connected Live and Drive together with Continental’s AutoLinQ back in 2009; we had a joint solution with Android on Continental’s head unit ready for CeBIT 2010. I would dare to say that this concept contains some revolutionary elements for the automotive industry and can be a real game changer on many levels and is therefore really an industry milestone.

Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?

Dealing with innovations is our core task. Therefore, this is my favorite question. The phenomenal success of the iPad and the ongoing strong market growth for mobile Internet has been quite interesting. We observe the market for mobile and portable devices very closely. Gartner estimates that 19 million iPads will be sold this year; in 2014, it could be more than 200 million devices. Right now, you will find many DIY solutions for integrating such devices into the car. Online services play a huge role in our lives and, of course, we want to use them in the car. But the automotive OEMs cannot move as fast as the mobile and portable device industry. We already predicted in 2007 that user-centric services are going to play an important role in telematics. The convergence that we see in other domains of our lives will, of course, continue for and in the vehicle. Technology reflects and sometimes even drives the changes in our lifestyles. Another prediction of ours also has come true: the debate about driver distraction and human machine interfaces (HMI). We always wondered why this did not reach the attention we felt it deserved. This will still be a subject for the years to come. (For a look at the mismatch between automotive and software development, see ‘What telematics firms can learn from Web 2.0’; for more on driver distraction, see ‘Driver distraction: The battle over in-car apps’; For more on online services, see ‘Wanted: A single interface for all in-car apps’ and ‘What is the best way to deliver in-car telematics?’.)

How integral is Telematics Munich to the European telematics market?

Clearly, Telematics Update in Munich is the major European event on telematics. The networking opportunities are excellent and the exchange of ideas with like-minded people is refreshing.

Which gadgets, gizmos, or cars are on your current wish list?

I wish I’d had a better head unit in my car that would support all my gadgets, from iPhone to Android. Lately, I’ve been enjoying our prototypes a lot, which are really fun and easy to use even while driving.

Marcus Hietmann will be speaking at telematics Munich, Nov 3 -4. To register now click here.

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