HARMAN charges up the socially networked vehicle, as the PND market falters

HARMAN charges up the socially networked vehicle, as the PND market falters

HARMAN unveiled what it’s calling the world’s first social networking vehicle, the Rinspeed BamBoo electric concept car. The car is on display at the Geneva Motor Show and showcases a range of connectivity solutions. Its infotainment head unit lets drivers and passengers monitor traffic, hear Twitter and Facebook updates, listen to streaming music via the Internet, and calculate the electric vehicle’s available range with energy efficient routing. “HARMAN has once again led the automotive industry by bringing our most advanced technologies to the forefront and creating a new lifestyle experience that mirrors the current social networking revolution,” says Sachin Lawande, HARMAN chief technology officer, Automotive.

Digi International and Better Place struck up a deal to use Digi high-speed cellular routers to connect EV docking stations to the Better Place electric car network. Better Place is building docking stations and infrastructure to lay the groundwork for widespread adoption of EVs in Europe. Integrating Digi routers will allow utilities to minimize charging requirements during peak electricity consumption hours.

ABI Research ranked BMW as the top worldwide OEM telematics vendor. Ford Sync came in second and GM OnStar third. BMW distinguished itself for its “balanced” approach to connectivity, combining superior embedded ConnectedDrive technology with smartphone application integration. The company also supports industry standardization efforts. Sync and OnStar, by comparison, remain largely entrenched in their “single-minded” infotainment and safety-centric implementations, according to ABI.

In China, Shanghai OnStar Telematics Co., Ltd. announced that it has more than doubled its subscriber base in the last three months to surpass 200,000, a positive sign for OnStar and the Chinese telematics industry. China became the world’s largest auto market in 2010, with sales exceeding 18 million units. The demand for safety is rising along with the number of vehicles on the road. Shanghai OnStar Telematics Co., Ltd. is integrated with all three major passenger vehicle brands under Shanghai GM: Cadillac, Buick, and Chevrolet.

AT&T announced a new service, ShopAlerts by AT&T, which will deliver special offers to consumers on their mobile phones when they’re near a participating store or brand. The unique location-based mobile messaging service will be available for those AT&T customers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco who have opted in to receive such messages. AT&T is the first US mobile carrier to offer a large-scale, location-based mobile marketing program to consumers and advertisers.

Mobile apps that incorporate augmented reality will experience more than 1.4 billion annual downloads by 2015, up from just 11 million in 2010, according to a new report from Juniper Research. The number of apps that offer AR elements has already increased dramatically and their breadth has widened from the initial wave of location-based search apps to include games, social networking, education, lifestyle, and personal healthcare apps. High-profile companies like Coca-Cola and Time Out are incorporating AR content into their consumer engagement campaigns.

The personal navigation device market experienced a rocky fourth quarter with an overall decrease of 19 percent in units sold across Europe, according to TomTom’s latest estimates. TomTom’s net profits were down 29 percent in the fourth quarter from the year before and the company forecasted flat revenues for the coming year. TomTom did manage to grow its share of the market from 46 to 49 percent in Q4. Garmin’s automotive/mobile segment revenue decreased 31 percent in the fourth quarter to $559 million.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, join the industry’s other key players at Telematics Detroit 2011 in Novi, MI on June 8 and 9.

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