As the article pointed out OnStar is a 2G system, and is priced accordingly. Its not an infotainment system. I just renewed my annual subscription for <$15/month. Yes, millions can pay $15/month - even within the current economic slump. I have had zero minutes on my "cell plan" for over 18 months - don't use it. Just a glorified wireless burglar alarm system with an insurance discount, that can unlock my car if I leave the keys inside.
If Verizon can price a 4G 'data plan' like that, incredible, and it will sell like hotcakes. But I don't think so.
We do not need a phone in the car any more than we need a built in bar in the car. I hope that the car companies realize that eventually they will be tagged as the enablers for putting in distracting things and causing accidents. And once that decision is issued there will be hundreds more lawsuits charging endangerment or some such.
So while it seems like a good idea, a high profit one at that, in reality it is setting up for a huge loss later on. Please consider that.
It's interesting that this article completely glosses over the economics of a car driver having a second 4G 'smartphone' subscription service <this is where the rubber-hits-the-road --pun intended>. Most folks already dish out ~ $80 - 100/ month for the 'smartphone' in their pocket. So the article is suggesting mass numbers of car-buyers are going to sign up for a second $80-100/ month subscription plan? And then deal with network overages on two subscriptions?
The profit driven motive here isn't necessarily a virtue. Sizzle sells steak, and bells, whistles, touchscreens and apps sell cars and phones.
The problem isn't the technology...it's the ergonomic positioning and tactile component of the technology....and worse, it's the place that it puts the drivers' brains.
While it's true that you can adjust your mirrors, tune your radio, look at your Garmin, (and dare I mention shave, apply lipstick, brush your hair, or light a cigarette?) ... the problem is that if something happens requiring fast driver response, reaction time is reduced.
Studies have shown that complex discussions with passengers can distract a driver seriously--and the same is true of conversations by cell phone. The handheld component almost doesn't matter, so long as you're not looking down to dial. Your brain is still on auto-cruise while engaging in the activity, and you're AN IMPAIRED DRIVER.
How many of us have driven past an exit on a limited access roadway while listening to music, or talking on the phone? Or found ourselves in the left lane when we should be slowing for the exit? Or had some idiot execute a last minute "left lane exit" across three lanes of 70mph highway?
Even application of heads-up display might not mitigate the distraction problem.
It's no wonder the NTSB is weighing in negatively on some of these applications.
All the car companies would like to tie us into the lucrative smart phone "service" market. But how many car companies have the resources to create their own "service"? One, GM, with OnStar.
My car has blue tooth and USB. Just like on-star, it can call 911 in case of an accident. It could easily get smart phone connectivity with either of those two interfaces if they just updated the on-board SW. That probably won't happen, since then I wouldn't be locked into a server of the car companies choosing (and they have a relationship with a satalite provider for that now, which I'm not paying for).
The last thing a car company should be doing is tying a snapshot of technology into a car with a potential 20 year lifespan. My wife's 18 year old car still has an analog "built in" phone. You know what it's useful for? Nada.
What the car companies should be doing is coming up with a tablet cradle dock standard on the middle dash (power + USB/bluetooth with a standard data format, kind of like OBD). Want 4G? Get a 4G tablet. Touch screen breaks? Get a new $200 tablet instead of paying $3000 for a replacement "built in" from the dealer. Technology marches on? (I hear that it does, sometimes;) Buy a new tablet. Better screen? No problem. Want to create your own engine performance dials? Write an Android app. Want to continue something after your car ride is over? Take it with you (I do this now with my Android cell phone and my music).
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