Leading players in the telematics space announce new partnerships and solutions at Mobile World Congress 2013 in Spain
In this week’s Brief: Ford, Luxoft, Spotify, GENIVI Alliance, General Motors, AT&T, Audi, Gemalto, TomTom, Telmap, INRIX, Navfree, SnapCar, Huawei, UIEvolution, Waze, xAd, Airbiquity, and China Unicom of Shanghai
All eyes turned to Barcelona this week for Mobile World Congress (MWC), an annual event that serves as a launch pad for the latest mobile solutions, from tablets to phones to in-car offerings.
Ford used the venue this year to kick off several initiatives meant to improve Ford connected solutions and to encourage third-party developers to innovate in the automotive space.
First, the carmaker announced a partnership with Luxoft to develop an open-source car connectivity technology called SmartPhoneLink. The new open standard will combine the features of Ford’s AppLink software with Luxoft’s open-source iviLink, as well as connectivity solutions from other organizations willing to contribute their code.
Second, Ford made AppLink compatible with Spotify, the leading on-demand music streaming service providing access to a catalog of more than 20 million songs globally, so that drivers can enjoy simple hands-free, voice-activated entertainment while driving.
Third, the company opened its software for AppLink to the GENIVI Alliance, making it the first American automaker to contribute proprietary source code from one of its products to an open-source project. It also encouraged developers of mobile apps to enroll in the Ford Developer Program, which allows them to directly interface with the Ford SYNC AppLink system.
“Ford wants to see app developers succeed in their work with the auto industry,” said Doug VanDagens, Ford’s global director of Connected Services, at the event. “Contributing the AppLink software to GENIVI demonstrates our commitment to be developer-focused, which supports our drive for consumer-focused innovation."
In other news from the MWC, General Motors selected AT&T to provide high-speed wireless service for its 2015 car models, dropping its long-term provider Verizon Wireless.
GM is hoping to boost car sales and OnStar subscriptions by expanding its offering to include advanced applications like video streaming for passengers and by wirelessly sending customers alerts about possible engine problems or sending data or even video from a car to the owner's mobile device to show what's going on next to the vehicle in case of any problems.
Audi selected Gemalto, a leader in digital security, to provide 4G connectivity for Audi’s new embedded LTE infotainment system.
Enhanced “Audi connect” services available in the Audi A3 vehicles will offer high-speed, low latency connectivity, and a suite of advanced features including mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, Internet radio, Web services and an improved navigation system. Gemalto’s Cinterion range of automotive-grade M2M technology will provide the 4G.
TomTom and Telmap agreed for TomTom to supply maps and road data to Telmap’s location-based services. Telmap aims to enhance its products and services by utilizing TomTom content, including mobile navigation apps, POIs, Junction Views, 3D City Maps and Voice Maps.
The net result: Users of Telmap's apps will benefit from better routing and improved visuals.
INRIX announced that its traffic services will now fuel a pair of new mobile solutions. The first is Navfree, a real-time traffic information app that helps drivers get from point A to point B as expeditiously as possible, thus saving time and fuel and emotional energy spent grumbling at brake lights.
The second is SnapCar, a smartphone car reservation service that allows users to reserve high-end vehicles on the fly from their phones. INRIX traffic info will help reduce waiting and travel times for SnapCar clients.
Huawei stepped into the automotive connectivity arena with a suite of new telematics solutions. The company showcased its vehicle-compatible 3G and LTE communication modules, its 3G mobile hotspot, and its 3G onboard diagnostic box.
The company says its products for vehicles provide stable wireless solutions in diverse environments regardless of weather conditions, terrain, or reliability of power supply, providing new development opportunities for the automotive industry, and unsurpassed convenience for car owners.
UIEvolution launched the cloud-based Evolution Platform for Enterprise, which offers an efficient and economical solution for delivering applications where they are needed most, whenever, wherever.
The idea is to lower development, integration and maintenance costs, consolidate external resources, and allow users to easily update app functionality and content without forcing them to download a new app. The company launched a new website around the platform: www.uievolution.com .
Outside of MWC, Waze selected xAd as its exclusive third party provider of search and display mobile ads in the U.S. Waze is a social driving app and the top three map and navigation app in the iTunes store.
The integration will infuse xAd’s mobile ad targeting technologies into Waze’s location-guided advertising platform to enable Waze to serve the most relevant ads to their users at the right time.
Finally, Airbiquity partnered up with China Unicom of Shanghai to provide telematics services for the Chinese automotive market, leveraging Airbiquity’s Choreo connected vehicle service delivery platform and China Unicom’s telecom infrastructure and service provider capabilities.
The goal of the partnership is to provide comprehensive and advanced connected vehicle services for Chinese automotive line-fit and aftermarket programs.
“With business in 31 provinces and regions, as well as broadband and ICT infrastructure throughout the country, China Unicom is a leader in connectivity solutions,” says Kamyar Moinzadeh, president and CEO of Airbiquity. “Bringing that industry-leading level of service into the car, across China, is an intelligent next step in a rapidly expanding market.”
For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry Insight: Telematics and Apps 
For all the latest information and trends in fleet management, visit Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2013  on March 19-20 in Amsterdam.
Coming up in 2013: Insurance Telematics Europe 2013  on May 7-8 in London and Telematics India and South Asia 2013  on April 17-18 in India.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report , Human Machine Interface Technologies  and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics .