As a tier one supplier focused on telematics and infotainment, Sprint Velocity is tasked with recruiting mobile app developers and integrating apps into cars.
“Automakers have gone from semi-closed gardens to recruiting the best and brightest to write automotive-appropriate apps,” says Tim Johnson, Sprint Velocity global business development manager. “It’s the natural evolution of what’s going on in this market space.”
But it’s very early in the game, in Johnson’s view. “The space is going from the equivalent of a young child to a ‘tween, or maybe a teen, but it’s a long way from adulthood.” That analogy equates to major opportunities for app developers, especially those that are well-managed and well-funded. Partnering with an app developer or any other supplier is a major commitment for an automaker; getting there is understandably more difficult than placing an app on a mobile website.
Johnson suggests that app developers interested in automotive potential should consider three goals. The first is to create a mobile device app that adds value to the driving or riding experience. The second is to bring that app into the car in ways that leverage the car’s sound system, display screen, or other features.
“The driver can put the mobile device into the glove compartment or the trunk and let the very well thought-through integration of car electronics take over the app and present it at speed – or not – using appropriate audio or display technology,” Johnson says. “That’s a huge opportunity, and we are well-involved in doing that.”
The third opportunity is to develop an app that doesn’t rely on a mobile device at all, but to consider the car as the equivalent of a mobile device. “There are enormous opportunities here, as well,” Johnson suggests. “In all, there are three very sweet targets for an app developer. None of those targets existed until quite recently, but now the gates have been thrown wide open.”