Automakers are on a mission to deliver apps for their vehicles, and developers are a big part of that. When looked at as a collection of technologies, it’s easy to describe a recent auto as a smartphone on wheels, or a tablet with a car wrapped around it. But looking deeper, it’s more than that.
I’ve been working with General Motors for the past year on their app development program, and I can tell you that this is going to be a market worth addressing. Distinctly unique and much larger than people anticipate, GM alone sells more than 9 million vehicles a year.
Currently, in the smartphone marketplace, discovery is a challenge. Awareness by customers is low and it’s very difficult for new apps to break through. The average US driver spends 450 hours a year in their vehicle. As apps are developed for vehicles, early numbers are going to be limited, so developers who create meaningful apps for the automotive experience will be noticed.
The automotive market also requires developers to think differently. It’s a unique opportunity because the vehicle environment in itself is quite unique. The range of app possibilities that people will want available, and having apps specifically designed for vehicle use, allows the driver to customize their car and provide unique entertainment for passengers.
Some automakers are also equipping their vehicles with better technology and fast connection speeds. For instance, GM partnered with AT&T to provide 4G LTE connectivity to GM vehicles beginning in 2014, enabling faster mobile data speeds, lower latency than 3G technologies and the ability to support simultaneous voice and data connections.
As you can see, big things are happening in the automotive world and developers are going to be at front of this emerging market. At the dawn of any new marketplace, the greatest rewards go to those that start early and release first. See you in the AppShop.
Jeremy Tanner, Instigator at Chaotic Moon, is based in Austin, TX and works with GM on app development for the connected car and the future of transportation.