Volvo: “Apps are a way to differentiate brands”

Volvo: “Apps are a way to differentiate brands”

Smartphone use is increasing rapidly, especially in northern Europe. Gartner predicts that 50% of all mobile phones will be smartphones by 2013, but this level could be surpassed even sooner. More than 75% of mobiles phones in Sweden are already smartphones. That’s a huge increase, and with it will come an increased demand for intelligent apps for smartphones and a huge opportunity to utilize smartphone functionality.

Volvo is launching mobile apps to control the functioning of our cars. Sweden is a cold climate so an app to remotely start the car’s heater would be popular. A lot of functionality could be controlled via apps—remote lock/unlock, for example, and checking the status of the car, such as whether the windows are open, a bulb needs to be replaced, or the oil needs to be changed. You could get it all through your mobile phone. So you could carry everything you need into the car with your smartphone, in a way that is adapted for use in the car. (For more on apps, see ‘Telematics: The demand for in-car apps’ and ‘In-car telematics services: There’s an app for that’.)

There are several ways to realize this functionality—embedded communication modules, cloud services, etc—but eventually there needs to be a standard communication module in all cars. What will drive that standard? European Union legislation, including eCall, would help, as would the related expansion of 4G and LTE. (For more on 4G and LTE, see ‘Will LTE lead the 4G revolution?’.) Increased functionality could also be a driver for embedded communication modules. We could see hybrid solutions, in which an embedded module would be used for car-centric functions and the smartphone would be used for others.

Today, car apps are a way to differentiate brands and models and make them more effective, not only for the first owner but for the second and third owners as well. That’s why apps need to be easily upgraded and updated. As for driver distraction, we see it not as an issue but as an opportunity. The Volvo brand promises safety and reliability. We will create these functions and services while ensuring that they are safe to use.

For all the latest telematics trends, join the sector’s thought leaders at Telematics Detroit 2011 in Novi, MI on June 8 and 9.

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