Weekly Brief: Qualcomm announces the biggest summer sale yet

Weekly Brief: Qualcomm announces the biggest summer sale yet

In this week’s Brief: Qualcomm, Omnitracs, Vista Equity Partners, Sylectus, FleetRisk Advisors, TomTom, Masternaut, MapMechanics, Francisco Partners, Continental, Google, IBM, BMW, Porsche, GM, OnStar and Microsoft.

Mergers and acquisitions have become a regular topic of discussion for telematics in the last few years. As the industry hits the mainstream, the question is not if companies will merge and be acquired, but rather when and by whom.

Last week, we explored an acquisition on the consumer telematics front, SiriusXM’s $530 million purchase of Agero’s connected vehicle business. (See SiriusXM: Ready for prime time?

Now, Qualcomm is in the headlines with with equally big news – on the fleet telematics front.

The company has signed a definitive agreement to sell Omnitracs, its fleet telematics solution, to Vista Equity Partners, a U.S.-based private equity firm. The acquisition will include all of Omnitracs’ operations in the United States, Canada and Latin America, including Sylectus and FleetRisk Advisors, which were acquired by Omnitracs in 2011. The price tag? $800 million in cash.

“Today, the opportunity for fleet management and telematics is evolving rapidly, and we believe Omnitracs is well positioned to continue its leadership position as a stand-alone entity,” said Derek Aberle, executive vice president and group president at Qualcomm. “Vista’s long-term investment focus and experience helping software, data and technology-enabled businesses drive growth and leadership positions is a great fit for the Omnitracs business and management team. We look forward to witnessing their continued success together.”

Also on the fleet telematics front, TomTom released research suggesting that 42% of transport companies say that roadside inspections by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) are increasing. These same companies indicated that the risk of prosecution for tachograph offenses — those related to speed and total hours driven—was a growing concern. Additional 20% said that infringements had been recorded against them in the last three years.

Granted, this data is coming from the mouth of a business that wants to sell fleet management solutions (specifically, TomTom’s WEBFLEET Tachograph Manager), but it’s an interesting trend, nonetheless, and one that may augur good things for fleet telematics in the coming years.

Also in fleet telematics, Masternaut integrated into its fleet telematics solutions a new routing and scheduling optimisation system from MapMechanics. Masternaut, which was acquired by a private equity firm itself back in 2011 (Francisco Partners), has a preexisting relationship with MapMechnics, but the new partnership will be more robust, enabling real-time fleet updates, historical data analytics and scheduling across Masternaut’s portfolio.

Meanwhile, with the Frankfut Motor Show less than three weeks away, German newspapers are trying to outdo each other with scoops and teasers for the exhibition. The most interesting news to surface last week came courtesy of Frankfurter Allgemeine, which hinted that Continental will likely announce a new partnership focused on autonomous vehicles with Google and IBM.

Continental is eager to break into the autonomous driving space, as it made clear when it signed a similar partnership with BMW in early 2013. The Google and IBM deals would give Continental greater revenue sharing possibilities once solutions hit the road, and they would supply Google and IBM with a valuable Tier 1 partner that’s already trusted by OEMs when it comes to building reliable auto parts (tires, brakes, batteries, etc.). No comment yet from any of the aforementioned parties.

Another bit of rumor-mill fodder came from the German blog AutoBild, which suggested that Porsche plans to debut a new infotainment system built on HTML5. Many believe HTML5 to be the wave of the future for the human-machine interface (HMI), as it makes operating in-dash systems as easy as scrolling through websites. Porsche will reportedly roll the infotainment unit out on the 2015 Porsche Spyder.

In other news, GM unlocked the OnStar RemoteLink app for Microsoft Windows phones, making it the first remote telemetry app from an automaker to work on all four primary smartphone platforms – iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. The app allows drivers to check information about their vehicles, such as oil life, tire pressure and fuel level, from their mobile phones. RemoteLink is available on both Windows Phone 7 and 8 operating systems.

“RemoteLink remains one of our subscribers’ most desired OnStar services, so to be able to offer it across all of the major smartphone platforms is a great step for us,” said Steve Schwinke, GM director of application development for the global connected consumer.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Insurance Telematics USA 2013 on Sept. 4-5 in Chicago, Telematics Brazil & LATAM 2013 on Sept. 11-12 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Telematics Japan/China 2013 on Oct. 8-10 in Tokyo, Telematics Munich 2013 on Nov. 11-12 in Munich, Germany, Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2013 on Nov. 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia, and Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2013 on Dec. 11-12 in San Francisco.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.

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