Convergence is King

Convergence is king and that is no secret.  Driven by lower cost hardware, greater wireless bandwidth and coverage,  and increased consumer demand to stay connected, the world of consumer electronics is being led by the convergence of technologies.  Phones with live content, TVs with widgets, and of course, Google with everything.

At first this trend was trickling down to the automotive sector, but I’d say (and I don’t think I’m the only one) 2010 is already the year the floodgates opened.  Ford has continued to improve upon the Sync system and has gone as far as launching MyFord Touch as the next generation of high end connected navigation systems.  Kia has launched the Uvo system, OnStar has launched a mobile app and there are multiple automotive solutions for in-car wireless connectivity.

Convergence in consumer electronics has meant integrating the things people interact with regularly to a centralized and readily accessible device (primarily the smartphone).  This includes the basics (like phone and email), the web 2.0 (social networking and advanced maps) and the extravagant (like live TV) and the thread that connects all of these are open platforms and APIs.  By allowing users to access extensive data and build upon the advanced systems of an existing platform companies and consumers alike are reaping the benefits of the consumer developed application.  Consumers are getting more apps that are more useful to them while companies are creating new revenue streams and increasing customer interaction.

Apple is the App Store leader in consumer electronics but in the automotive industry Ford is at the forefront of this movement with the Sync system and the announcement of the Ford Sync API (feature article upcoming, check back soon).

On David Montgomery talks about how mobile convergence is leading the charge and how the models of the mobile cellular industry will spill over into the automotive market.  He covers the thoughts of Venrock Capital’s Dev Khare about portfolio companies Inrix and Aha Mobile and how managing dynamic data will be key in developing new systems.

On Leon Gettler also discusses convergence, but more broadly (highlighting topics from the smart power grid to cancer treatments) and touches upon some of the challenges facing the automotive companies and suppliers.

Convergence is a topic that will be discussed for a long time to come.  Proponents couldn’t be more excited that these technologies are available and making their way into the vehicle.  Detractors are worried about safety and rightfully so.  Whether you are for or against this tendency towards constant connectivity or not, it is an inevitable evolution of the technology and, as with almost every technology that’s ever been developed, we’ll have to figure out how to use it effectively and safely.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m driving and it’s hard to type.

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