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POINTABOUT CASE STUDY:

The Automotive Industry: MOVING WITH MOBILE

PointAbout Inc. COO Daniel made a Safari clone app that


Odio chats with auto indus- allowed companies to report
try expert Ty Beltramo about all browser activity for a
how the auto industry can person, thereby increasing
get up to gear with mobile. accountability at organiza-
tions.
CAPTURING THE UNIVERSE
Then he moved on to the
Ty Beltramo and his partner automotive industry, first
started out making native making an application for
iPhone apps featuring astro- the Chevy Cruze that enabled
nomical projections that sales staff to capture infor-
could track down where a mation in the field, search
user was located in the world inventory, do basic configu-
– except the North or South ration and inventory search-
Pole - and then calculate es mixing model and car
where the sun or moon was features, and then return a
in relation to the user. It also list of all inventory, listed by
featured details on moon percent match, to the sales
phases. and marketing department
that processed leads.
“That was a lot of heavy
math, a lot of trigonometry, a He didn’t stop there. He
lot of geometry to figure that made the iPhone Onstar
stuff out,” Ty said. Success Experience app, which was
required keeping memory really two apps in one.
small and making heavy
calculations fast. “We had to One part of the app allowed
calculate pieces of data every a user to engage with and
10 minutes over a 28-day connect to a Chevy Volt,
period,” he said. providing command and
control, charging options,
And the universe was just door lock/unlock, horn
where he started. honking, light flashing, and
location capabilities.
Ty started making high-
frame-rate old school arcade The second part of the app
games, as well as children’s engaged a user to a Chevy
educational games. He also Volt simulator so people

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THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY: MOVING WITH MOBILE 2

could experience the app and “People are becoming more road conditions, population
all the action of the first part and more connected, and all densities, and population
of the app without owning that connectivity is starting migration.”
the vehicle. to revolve around the mobile
device as a nucleus – some- Additionally, the car gives off
WHERE THE MOBILE INDUSTRY thing they are putting in their information about the heat
IS HEADED... AND QUICKLY pocket.” it generates, the pollution
particulates it gives off – “the
Ty says as the number of car knows all these things” –
“The number of people who people with smartphones and as people become more
own smartphones - that increases over time, network eco-conscious, they will be
have browsing capability, capabilities will also improve. interested in capturing this
web capability and applica- And with that, consumers’ information, Ty said.
tion download capability – is expectations will rise. Con-
going from 90 million world- sumers will demand more in “You will see a bunch of
wide today to 190 million terms of how they are con- communities developing,”
in three years,” Ty said. In nected, who they are con- Ty said. “People will relate to
addition, industry leaders nected to and how they can each other in ways we’re not
are coming out with entirely use data, he said. thinking about today, such
new class of mobile devices, as everyone who drives on a
such as the iPad. “It’s not going to be about certain stretch of highway at
texting,” Ty said. “It’s going a certain time of day - that
“People live in a connected to be about communities is a community, and those
ecosystem,” said Ty, “and that are going to be formed people want to share infor-
that connected ecosystem ad hoc out of data that we mation about that trip.”
used to be tied to their home haven’t even thought of yet.”
computer or their work com- Additionally, navigation
puter, and now it’s follow- MOBILE AND THE “ought to become free,”
ing people around in their AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Ty said. “There is a whole
phone.” market segment - like Tom
Toms and Garmins - that
As this transition occurs, “The automotive space is
is going to disappear or be
traditionally separate tech- unique,” Ty said, “because
fundamentally changed,”
nologies are collapsing into cars are meant to be in
Ty said. He said the iPad’s
mobile devices – camera, motion, and location-based
turn-by-turn feature, for
news reader, music/movie/ services are becoming more
use while docked in a car, is
TV players, email, texting, and more important.”
already changing that.
Twitter. “Just the range of
applications alone is stag- “The car generates a tremen-
“What people need to be
gering,” Ty said, citing the dous amount of data that is
thinking about are what
190,000 apps currently in important to the person in
kinds of things are going to
the App Store (the number the car as well as to a whole
disappear or be assimilated
has risen to 225,000 since series of people who aren’t
into this technology - like
publication of this article). in the car – including traffic,
turn-by-turn navigation and

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THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY: MOVING WITH MOBILE 3

media streaming,” Ty said, centers around the mobile


“and how devices can col- device, not the car.” Car-
laborate with other devices.” makers need to accept that
their customers are bringing
CARS ARE PERIPHERALS their media, data contract
and applications into the car.
As the mobile device becomes
“If the auto manufacturers
the center of reality, other
can engineer new vehicle
objects in consumers’ lives
hardware properly so it can
will have to adapt accord-
adapt to the ever changing
ingly.
and ever evolving consumer
electronics industry, […then]
The biggest mistake busi-
the sky is the limit,” Ty said.
nesses make is thinking
that the mobile device is
For auto manufacturers, the
peripheral, when in actuality,
rapid evolution of the mobile
it’s the total opposite. The
world is difficult because
mobile device is the hub, not
consumer electronics such
the spoke. “You’re going to
as mobile devices can be
see the car be a huge periph-
developed at a faster rate
eral for mobile devices; it
than cars. “Cars may have a
is inevitable. It doesn’t take
fundamental disadvantage
much of a prophet to see it –
because it takes a long time
it’s happening now.”
to go from engineering to
production, so they cannot
The auto industry isn’t
compete with the rate of
immune to the mobile
change in the mobile space,
revolution and will need to
which is changing every six
start thinking of the car as
months,” Ty said.
a peripheral instead of the
mobile device, if the indus-
To deal with the long pro-
try wants to stay relevant,
duction cycles, car manufac-
Ty said. “The car drives and
turers will need to develop a
is designed to provide the
“delivery mechanism for what
function of transportation in
is happening on the mobile
a way that people enjoy being
device,” Ty said. The inte-
transported - and anything
gration of the mobile device
beyond that is peripheral to
to the car will require a flex-
it,” Ty explains, “but when a
ible interface that can accept
person gets in a car, the car is
changing mobile devices.
peripheral to the person and
The car will then feed
their mobile device, and that
information on the engine,
person’s idea of connectivity
transmission, brakes, etc.

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THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY: MOVING WITH MOBILE 4

to the mobile device via the be able to make calls, read auto industry, give them
interface. and send texts, search and marching orders, and let
play music all without ever them create the culture,” Ty
Carmakers need to focus on touching their mobile device. said. “It’s not an automotive
providing capability instead project; it’s a project that has
of applications themselves. The new electric cars, start- an automotive element to it.
“Right now people are creat- ing with Ford’s Focus Electric And its not a mobile project;
ing single-purpose boxes in 2011 models, will provide it’s a project that requires
the factory,” Ty said. “They drivers with key information mobile integration,” he said.
need to get away from that.” allowing them to plug in
their cars during non-peak “Don’t be afraid to innovate,
It will require a change of hours for more efficient and to create something new and
thought; “the automotive more affordable recharging. independent that is free to
companies in a sense have Ford and Microsoft are even experiment and fail, to try
to give up control,” Ty said. working with local utility crazy things that might seem
companies to create an entire insane,” Ty said. “Everyone
MOBILE STRATEGY FOR CAR energy ecosystem. needs to be thinking about it,
MANUFACTURERS:TY’S ADVICE but how they play in the space
2. “Start identifying and build- depends on the company –
ing key capabilities – software its character, its culture, and
1. “Get a good partner.” “There distribution, building inte- its will,” Ty said. “I can’t think
is a breadth of disciplines gration specs.” of a [single] industry that
that have to be mastered – wouldn’t benefit from this.”
from social networking and Ty said these pieces would
application and communi- not fall under the umbrella 3. “Develop prototyping
ties to software provision of the automotive organiza- capability. Test on a fleet,
distribution models, plus the tion, but should be done via a then integrate feedback and
business side of monetizing joint venture that allows the ideas.”
and marketing,” Ty said. organization to be physically
and culturally isolated from The auto industry typi-
Ty cited Ford’s partnership the manufacturing side. cally cycles through a 36- to
with Microsoft. Ford’s stra- 54-month product develop-
tegic partnership with Micro- Current developments in ment cycle. “If you wait two
soft has allowed it to become speech recognition, internal years, you’re going to have a
an industry technology information projection onto problem,” Ty said. “Ford will
integration leader with SYNC the mirror, dash and wind- be able to ride that wave as
and Hohm, both powered by shield, hand-gesture recog- acceleration in technology
Microsoft. Between SYNC, nition, in-car cameras that continues to ramp up.” Com-
and Hohm, a Ford driver track drivers’ eye movement, panies who start early will be
will be able to control their and other technologies can able to generate more veloc-
mobile device via voice acti- make this area a designer’s ity for themselves, while if
vation to get real time car playground. they start behind, they will
health data, traffic data, and be lower on the momentum
directions. They will also “Get them isolated from the curve. Prototyping allows a

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THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY: MOVING WITH MOBILE 5

company to test new technol-


ogy with agility not afforded
in the typical industry cycle.

Much like consumers


demand side air bags and
anti-lock brakes today, pre-
viously seen as luxury add-
ons, consumers will start to
demand enhanced in-car
technological features, Ty
said. It will be crippling for
any automotive manufactur-
er to disregard the current
mobile movement and not
innovate.

As a last piece of advice, Ty


said, “Know your company. If
you don’t have the will, then
outsource it. If you can gen-
erate the faith and belief that
it is core to your business,
then make it core. Knowing
your customer is second only
to knowing your own prod-
ucts.”

“Everyone needs to be think-


ing about it, but how they
play in the space depends on
the company – its character,
its culture, its will,” Ty said.
“I can’t think of an industry
that wouldn’t benefit from
this.”

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