Why telematics isn’t more popular

Hyundai/Kia prototype (by Fatcontroller via Flickr)As I sat at my gate last week, awaiting my flight home from Las Vegas CES 2009, I overheard other CES-ers recounting their experiences at the consumer tech summit.  Some commented on attendance while others mentioned the cool new stuff from industry stalwarts like LG and microsoft.  It made me long for the day that changes in the telematics space could create the same kind of buzz as the TV’s do.

Certainly this year was not that year.

Sure, Hyundai is touting their digital TV that leverages the digital signal from local broadcasts into your car or their ability to make the car accessible through your home network (something I’ve been talking about for ages now).  The Microsoft -Ford-DeWalt truck is nice, with its obvious solution set for contractors and businesses.  But other than that pleasant surprise, almost all of the telematics solutions were variations on the same theme; more are adding LBS and finding cute new ways to say they have something to offer. But there are few original products hitting the market.

A few years ago, the conversation focused on what to do with the problems facing the “last mile.”  Internet users had poor connectivity and that negatively impacted the user experience.  Consumers trudged along with slow download speeds, dropped connections, etc.  Once that was solved, content and an enhanced user experience laid the groundwork for broader adoption and good content to move across the various networks.

If infotainment consumers today have to rely on a cellular signal or a less than robust wi-fi network, as their means of accessing content, then infotainment will also trudge along.  Korea has it figured the challenge out and they are enjoying the possibilities provided by their roust wireless networks.  Of course the density of their population plays a part but they have a very robust infrastructure to deliver higher quality content to phones and cars.

Maybe next year the announcements will be that the industry is working together with many solution providers to make the devices and expectations a reality.  Infotainment will increasingly become a part of our lives as providers remember its about the content, the user experience, and most importantly, about consumer behavior.