Sprint unveils in-car communications system for automakers
By Nichola Groom | November 30, 2012 9:49 AM EST
Sprint Nextel Corp unveiled on Thursday an in-vehicle communications and entertainment system it hopes automakers will adopt as they seek to attract younger, more connected consumers.
Sprint Velocity allows drivers to connect mobile phones to their vehicles through Bluetooth, providing access to a range of applications, including voice-activated texting and email, navigation, news and sports updates and music.
Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. mobile carrier, is betting that Sprint Velocity will be superior to the products developed by the automakers themselves.
"They know how to make great cars. They assemble these vehicles that we all fall in love with," said Wayne Ward, Sprint's vice president of emerging solutions, at the LA Auto Show. "But when it comes to this stuff, they are not in the communications business."
Sprint Velocity powers Chrysler Group LLC's Uconnect system already offered on two of its vehicles, the new Ram 1500 pickup truck and SRT Viper. The companies have not disclosed pricing for the system, but Uconnect packages on the truck range from $465 to $970, depending on the screen size.
Some 45 percent of car buyers said navigation systems that help drivers avoid traffic are very important to their purchase decisions, while 35 percent said the same of a car's ability to respond to voice commands, according to a survey by IBM to be released soon.
About 30 percent said entertainment systems were very important, particularly buyers between the ages 18 and 29. Still, efforts by Ford, General Motors Co and other automakers have been widely panned.
Glitches in the MyFord Touch system sent Ford tumbling in Consumer Reports's annual survey of reliability. The magazine has also called GM's new CUE system for its Cadillac lineup, "convoluted and frustrating.
"This stuff is pretty hard," Sprint's Ward said. Automakers "traditionally have had to deal with every single applications vendor and tried to put these things together from a systems integration perspective themselves. And not doing it with a background and a legacy of understanding mobility."
Automakers can adopt Sprint Velocity as a turn-key system or customize it to suit their needs, Ward said. The auto market offers a big opportunity for carriers like Sprint and rivals Verizon and AT&T to reach new users.
Verizon earlier this year said it would buy Hughes Telematics Inc for $612 million in cash to beef up its enterprise business with machine-to-machine communications services in automotive and other industries.
"Where are we as carriers going to get new growth?" said Ward. "It's from this stuff. It's from vehicles."
(Reporting By Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Most Popular Slideshows
- Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: King Williem-Alexander, Queen Maxima Hold Solemn Reception Ceremony for Victims
- Jennifer Lawrence & Nicholas Hoult Allegedly Split: Mad Max Actor Cheats with Kristen Stewart & Riley Keough - Reports
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
Join the Conversation
- Tourre on stand says email in SEC case 'not accurate'
- Syrian authorities blocking access to needy in Homs - Red Cross
- Faith in European Union at low ebb, EU poll says
- Former UBS banker gets 18 months, $1 million fine, for muni bid-rigging scheme
- U.S. judge halts challenges to Detroit's bankruptcy bid
- Apple iPhone 6 on Two Confirmed Release Dates, New Parts Leaked Suggesting Bigger iPhone to Come
- Google Nexus 6, 8 with Android L on Release Date Promises Killer Mobile Device Experience
- iPhone 6 Release Date Relevance to iOS Newbies: Specs Meaning, Price Considerations
- HTC One M8 Android 4.4.3 KitKat Update Roll Out, Introducing the HTC One Remix
- Killer Whales Gobble Japanese Whaling Crew
- The Pirate Bay Releases ‘The Mobile Bay’: Mobile Torrent Download Made Easier but Remains Illegal
- Shocking Video of Pedigree Dog Culling in Bali Emerges [Video]