Verizon

GigaOM: Automakers' bring-your-own-connection strategy may be more beneficial to consumers

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 11:40am

In-car stereoThe current in-car Internet radio landscape is dominated by dashboard systems that let users control services like Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn...provided there's a smartphone connected.

Lately, Verizon has reportedly pushed aggressively for a different future, one where cars connect directly to the web via 4G LTE. GigaOM reports Verizon Wireless' parent company recently purchased a machine-to-machine telematics company, while Verizon itself has formed a 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars.

BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Kia have joined the forum, but absent are automakers from Detroit. GigaOM writes their absence "might be attributable to the fact that U.S. automakers’ visions for the connected car aren’t entirely aligned with Verizon’s."

That is, they would prefer the current bring-your-own-connection set-up.

"The logic is sound," comments GigaOM (here). "Consumer vehicles have long replacement cycles. Meanwhile consumers trade in their smartphones for more-sophisticated models every 18 months. Any radio, processor or platform technology an automaker embeds in a car could become obsolete within a few years."

But might requiring a separate device end up being a roadblock to in-car web radio adoption? Perhaps not. Nielsen recently found that more than half of mobile users in the U.S. now own a smartphone (RAIN coverage here). Meanwhile, Forrester Research has predicted U.S. consumers will own 257 million smartphones by 2016 (more here). 

As Auto Magazine commented last year (here), "Millions of drivers already pay for powerful mobile devices and data plans, and most new cars, even those as inexpensive as the Kia Forte, are set up to connect with them via Bluetooth and USB inputs."

But it will be up to automakers to make the integration between their dashboards and the increasingly diverse world of smartphones as seamless and painless as possible.

More news from CES: Special Slacker app for Android tablets, new Pure Net radios, and the 'fridge that plays Pandora

Friday, January 13, 2012 - 12:25pm

Verizon Wireless and Slacker are showing off the new content-heavy Slacker Radio app made especially for the Android tablet and optimized to take advantage of Verizon's 4G LTE wireless network. Slacker says it designed the app with "a content-rich interface" to make the most of the speedy connection. The app features newly-designed station tile display with horizontal and vertical scrolling, station previews, and improved browsing to better enable music discovery. The new app came out of Verizon's Innovation Program, set up to advance its 4G LTE technology. Verizon works with various companies to develop devices and applications that use of Verizon Wireless' networks.

Pure Audio is exhibiting two new Internet radio devices. The first, the Sensia 200D Connect, can time-shift Internet radio programming and record audio content to a USB memory stick. Users can set the radio in advance to record up to three Internet-radio programs, or simply record what they're currently hearing with a single button-push. UK-based Pure is also showing the new Contour 200i, a speaker that can stream music via Apple's wireless AirPlay streaming technology, or through its dock on an iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

Finally, as industry journalist Eliot Van Buskirk notes, "It Wouldn’t Be CES Without an Internet Refrigerator; It Runs Pandora." He writes, "I’m half-convinced that these things only exist to give tech reporters a reliable oddity to write about each year as an example of the sort of Jetsons-style nonsense we can expect from the future." Samsung's Internet-enabled "icebox" supports Android apps like Pandora, Epicurious, Twitter, Google Calendar, AP News, Weatherbug, and Picasa. "The Pandora app allows you to stream your Pandora stations via Wi-Fi and even play them through speakers that are embedded in the refrigerator — because what you really need is crappy little speakers inside of every single one of your appliances." Read Van Buskirk's write-up here.

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