Weekly Brief: Seahawks, connected car dominate the Super Bowl

Weekly Brief: Seahawks, connected car dominate the Super Bowl

In this week’s Brief: Hyundai, Mazda, Honda, Kia, Volkswagen, Audi, Chevrolet, Toyota, Chrysler, Berkshire Hathaway Insurance, MyAssist, Ford, Mercedes-Benz USA, Verizon Telematics, TeleNav, skobbler GmbH, Sierra Wireless, In Motion, BMW, Napster, Nissan North America, SiriusXM, Google, IDC Manufacturing Insights and Tata Motors.

It was the biggest sports night in the United States Sunday night as the Super Bowl played out under the bright lights of New York City. The Seattle Seahawks dominated, beating the favored Denver Broncos 43 to 8. The connected car enjoyed an equally dominant performance during the television ads, which sold for a whopping $4 million per 30 second slot this year.

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) made an early splash as Hyundai showed off its 2015 Genesis in an ad dubbed “The Sixth Sense” that featured an accident-prone boy who grows into a distracted young man behind a steering wheel – only to be saved by the Genesis’ automatic braking system. Mazda followed with a Mazda 3 ad built around the advanced features of Mazda Connect, its connected platform. Honda then showed off HondaLink’s Pandora integration in the Accord Sport, and Kia featured the sleek interior of its K900, complete with a glossy in-dash infotainment screen.

Volkswagen, Audi, Chevrolet, Toyota and Chrysler all aired ads as well, many of which framed the car as forward-thinking and ultra-connected.

In other news, it was a busy week on the acquisition front starting with Berkshire Hathaway Insurance, which acquired MyAssist for an undisclosed amount. MyAssist is a live-agent, personal-assistance and telematics service provider and works with the likes of Ford, Mercedes-Benz USA and Verizon Telematics. Berkshire Hathaway plans to maintain these relationships while seeking out new business opportunities in insurance telematics.

Navigation company Telenav acquired skobbler GmbH, a navigation player with some of the highest-rated OpenStreetMap (OSM)-based GPS navigation apps. Telenav plans to advance OSM as a platform for developers (and an alternative to Google Maps) while merging skobbler’s innovation with existing Telenav services. The deal closed for $19.2 million in cash and $4.6 million of common stock.

M2M leader Sierra Wireless announced the acquisition of In Motion, which should help Sierra Wireless expand its device-to-Cloud solutions for enterprise customers and diversify its offerings in the fleet telematics space. In Motion helps companies manage mobile operations and fleets with a medley of mobile routers, mobile-optimized security systems, and management and application platforms. Sierra Wireless has agreed to pay $21 million.

In infotainment news, BMW embraced Napster, the once-controversial music-sharing company. In its new incarnation, Napster is a legal online music store that offers a catalogue of more than 20 million titles of every possible genre – from rock, pop and soul to classical music and jazz – in addition to thousands of audiobooks. All BMW drivers with ConnectedDrive in their dashboards now have access to Napster via their built-in SIM cards.

Nissan North America went big with Internet radio as well, saying it would factory-install SiriusXM receivers across the entire Nissan model lineup.

For the second week running, Google was awarded an interesting patent in relation to autonomous vehicles. This week, the patent pertains to technology capable of automatically leading customers to an advertiser’s place of business by way of free or steeply discounted transportation. The patent is for a Google algorithm that deciphers the best potential forms of transportation, whether it be taxi, train or personal car. The potential applications for autonomous vehicles and in-car advertising go without saying.

Nearly 50% of consumers consider it vital to have access to a phone in the vehicle, and about 40% consider it vital to access apps such as navigation and music while in the vehicle, according to a new survey from IDC Manufacturing Insights. Those numbers bode well for in-car connectivity, especially the additional statistic that half of the baby boomer population (between the ages of 45 and 65) consider it “vital” to access the phone in the vehicle for business and applications.

Finally, India’s struggling automotive industry took a turn for the worse last week as the managing director of the country’s largest automaker, Tata Motors, jumped to his death from a hotel window in Thailand. Tasked with reviving Tata’s sales, Karl Slym headed up the company’s Indian operations, as well as several foreign markets. He was 51. Slym’s suicide caps off two tumultuous years in which the Indian auto market shrank across the board, by 6.7% in 2013 alone.

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 Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany, Insurance Telematics Europe 2014 on May 6-7 in London, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, and Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan.

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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