Ever since Ford’s chairman Bill Ford Jr. took centre stage to deliver a keynote presentation at the 2012 Mobile World Congress, it has been clear that cars are of ever-increasing importance as part of the mobile industry. In this era when Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication and the Internet of Things (IoT) are increasingly penetrating all sorts of products in various ways, vehicles represent a segment where M2M/IoT technology is comparably well-established. Telematics has over the past decades developed into a proven concept which can be leveraged to provide a range of innovative services that benefit both automotive manufacturers and their customers by enabling efficiency boosting, safety enhancing as well as infotainment-related functionality.
MWC 2015 also made it clear that exhibitors have realised the appeal of featuring cars as part of their booth layouts. When browsing through the different exhibition halls and its sometimes overwhelming number of exhibiting companies, well-polished and elegant vehicles are sure to be eye-catching and spur interest among visitors. While different types of cars have been part of the exhibition areas for a number of years, it should be safe to say that the strategy was ever-more commonplace at MWC 2015. When getting an update on Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud from the company representative, a shiny Volvo XC90 was the perfect backdrop to the conversation and a large number of passers-by stopped to have a look and learn more. In the GSMA Innovation City, AT&T moreover had an Audi S7 and a Cadillac CTS4 on display, while Vodafone and its 2014 acquisition target Cobra Automotive Technologies had a demo featuring a Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. Other operators such as China Mobile and Deutsche Telekom also had vehicles in place at MWC, including a Cadillac ATS in the Chinese carrier’s booth while the German operator featured a BMW 225i with ConnectedDrive. Qualcomm attracted visitors with a Maserati Quattroporte, while Visa featured a BMW Luxury Line convertible in its booth. PCS Wireless similarly had a Mini Cooper D Countryman branded with its Posh Mobile brand on display. LG had an Audi RS 5, Accenture a Fiat 500X and Samsung a Seat Leon, while Ford displayed its own Fiesta and new Focus Electric as well as a light commercial vehicle. The actual vehicle related mobile services demonstrated by the different exhibitors varied considerably, ranging from car telematics and usage-based insurance in the case of Vodafone/Cobra to connected car commerce (e.g. for QSRs) in the case of Visa.
Connected vehicles were not only a hot topic at the show floor but also as part of the conference and seminar program. One example is the GSMA Connected Living Seminar program which included a session entitled IoT for Automotive and Transport – Challenges and Opportunities. This session featured a diverse group of speakers from Etisalat, Volvo Cars, Telenor Connexion and ATM Barcelona. The industry representatives discussed a range of different connected vehicle applications including fleet management for commercial vehicles, passenger car infotainment, usage-based insurance and public transport solutions which can foster smart mobility through multimodal transports.