Every time I host The Peggy Smedley Show I get just a little smarter. That’s because the guests I feature on my show are not only outspoken individuals, but they are very well versed on the subject matter at hand. Take for instance the connected-car market. Just 10 short years ago, who would have thought we would be talking about infotainment perhaps as much as safety when it came to the cars we drive?
Well, it’s true. Today’s consumers are just as concerned about being entertained when they drive perhaps as much as their safety when they travel the highways. In fact, Jeff Bennett, automotive reporter for The Wall Street Journal, raised some interesting points about how the automotive industry has changed, but Jeff and I both agreed that those smarter than the both of us had predicted this all years earlier. For instance, telematics used to be a word most people never even knew, let alone would associate with the automotive community. Today, it has exploded to the point that most people can’t even imagine buying a car without it.
Here’s Bennett’s analogy that’s worth repeating: Car companies are starting to become computer companies. These slow to move behemoths are now speaking at consumer electronic shows and they are having to figure out ways to send software updates to the cars they produce. He says, this harkens back to 2000 when Scott McNealy, former CEO and cofounder of Sun Microsystems, foresaw, “’The car becoming an Internet server on wheels.”’ I have to admit I had never heard that line before, but McNealy nailed it. That statement could have been spoken today and how true it would be.
Bennett was also correct when he emphasized the point that the technology being placed in a car is the beginning of a layering process. What we have now are the basics, but more aggressive, advanced technology will advance on top of it. Think of it this way, much of the connected technology we see in the modern era has begun to make a difference. Connected vehicles now have rear-view cameras, lane-departure warning systems, blind-spot detectors, and the list goes on. In the future whether a driverless car lays ahead for consumers or not, we will soon see an era where cars are more helpful to the driver. They’ll let drivers know their car is low on gas, or automatically alert emergency services of an accident. Now that’s being connected for all the right reasons.
Even more than that, and if Bennett is right, the next wave of connected-car applications will make certain decisions for the driver. Rather than the driver having to search for certain information, or take his or her eyes off the road, that information will be readily available. It’s conversations with other journalists and experts in the field that make my job so much fun. And just think, this is merely the beginning of the connected car.