Saturday, April 06, 2013

Apps for Cadillacs. Developers, here's a chance to test your motor skills: in-car app store opportunities.


KEY TRENDS: auto domain, developers, ecosystems.
EVENT HORIZON: two years.

Developers, are you looking to create the latest killer app (metaphorically speaking of course)? Your next big opportunity could be sitting in your driveway.

Talk about mobile computing. Cars these days are essentially a bunch of moving parts wrapped around a computer. Automakers are stuffing CPUs, memory, storage, touchscreens, and connectivity into the heart of the modern car. And now you can download tools including SDKs and iPad-based emulators to build auto-centric in-car applications .

And as part of the expanding auto ecosystem, car manufacturers are opening app stores to provide a destination for developers to sell and for car owners to buy innovative programs.

The APIs will give developers hooks into on-device sensors providing data such as tire pressure, engine temperature, speed, and weather. This will allow developers to think beyond the smartphone box, finding ways to optimize the auto experience for the driver, perhaps by devising ways to minimize gas consumption or tire wear.

This market can pickup relatively quickly: there are currently more than one billion cars in use around the world with an average life span of around 10 years. So as more mid- and high-end new cars enter the global fleet, the penetration rate of compatible cars will grow. And the development tools leverage existing talents. GM's development environment, for example, is based on HTML and JavaScript. Essentially anyone who can develop webapps can develop auto apps. So current programming skills are quite convertible.

Actual application pricing and business models will vary.

Engine of growth? Mobile apps: the market for in-car apps could develop fast.

Computing power:

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