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Open platforms: The foundation for a successful telematics business case?

Posted: 28 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:open platforms? M2M? telematics?

In the telematics and M2M space, open platforms have been on the table for discussion for years. They have always promised shorter development cycles, software re-use, a broad developer base and a way to avoid being dependent on one single supplier. However now there is a new spice added to the mixthe long awaited possibility to make money by selling services.

Apple Inc. set the norm by the fantastic success of the Apple App Store for the iPhone, iPod and now the iPad. This has not given Apple's competitors any rest, and we see "app stores" coming from every major device manufacturer today. You could, of course, argue that what Apple has created is a long way from an open platform, as Apple owns all the IPRs themselves and is the only provider of the hardware. But where we cannot argue is the fact they have managed to create an ecosystem that gives third party developers the possibility to create, and perhaps most importantly, make money from developing and selling applications.

Per Lindberg

Lindberg: If you also want to contribute to create a new ecosystem where developers are motivated to write new, innovative applications, I think we need a different approach.

Until now, most open platform initiatives seem to be driven from a technical viewpoint. One early and successful example is, of course, the OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative framework), which today can be found in a wide range of telematics and M2M applications, such as automotive, eHealth and smart homes.�OSGi solves many of the things we want from an open platform, but it does not create an open marketplace by itself.

Another more recent example is the Genivi Alliance, which is quite firmly stuck in the automotive area. Genivi attempts to create a common base platform for infotainment systems and has a number of strong supporters like BMW, GM, Intel, Magneti Marelli and many more. If the momentum stretches far enough to create a common marketplace and ecosystem, we will experience an interesting development.

This is the key point as I see it today. If you want an open platform for the internal benefits, such as shorter development cycles and lower costs, then go ahead and use what is available on the market. But if you also want to contribute to create a new ecosystem where developers are motivated to write new, innovative applications, I think we need a different approach. We will not reach the cirtical mass if every car OEM has its own open platform and app store. To move forward, it is now obvious that we need to develop a common standard. An application developed for car brand X should also work in car brand Y. Otherwise, we run the risk of leaving the market to the Apples and Googles of the world. Why should I, as a consumer, pay for another application in my car, when I already have it on my iPhone or Android phone? Nokia's Terminal Mode hints at what is possible with this type of solution. Or perhaps even more interestingly, will Google's "open platform" Android be installed in the next car you buy, giving you access to the Android Market?

No one knows the future, but according to the recent development of the open platforms, I do know that we are in for a couple of exciting years to come. Some will fail, some will succeed, but you can be sure that the car you buy 10 years from now will either have an on-board platform that lets you download the apps you want, or have an interface to your smartphone that lets you do the same thing.

- Per Lindberg
??Business ManagerCAutomotive
??Telenor Connexion

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