Nowadays cars can be connected with your smartphone ; not only to make calls but also to control your car at distance. The Mercedes Me application enables the owner to monitor basic and more advanced functionalities of the vehicle through his smartphone.
The presence of a SIM card transmitting the information to the smartphone is the enabler of this enhanced connectivity ; but it may also enable Mercedes to become a data provider. Your car has no secrets for Mercedes and all that information may well become a new source of revenues for them. Here’s how.
Mobile Me application: a short presentation
A fellow reader was kind enough to provide us with a few screenshots of the Mobile Me app. Once it’s connected with your car, the sensors send pieces of information to the app to display the status of various car components. Besides displaying the position of the car at any moment, the app also enables to lock the car, check the tires pressure, the status of the brakes, petrol level, …
This is of course a very useful application to detect and prevent any problems. The application even tells you the date of your next maintenance.
One step ahead : maintenance
In another article we were explaining how manufacturers were trying to remove the customer from the decision process. The same may very well apply here. Imagine a problem is detected on your car. If you authorized it, one could imagine that it would trigger a procedure at the nearest maintenance garage to come and service your car. This may even be part of new preventive package sold on top of the normal maintenance.
Where is all this data going to ?
Rest assured that the data displayed on your smartphone is just a fraction of what Mercedes collects. Your driving behavior (speed, acceleration) can be stored; the same applies for the outside temperature, the rain (through the rain sensor of your windshield), the particles emitted. Chances are high that all this data can be monetized. How ? Very simple. Here are just a few examples.
A few weeks ago we explained you that the insurance sector was trying to gather data on driving behavior by placing smart / black boxes into vehicles with the promise of faire pricing. You can wonder why insurers would keep financing the installation of such boxes while the data can be acquired by the car manufacturer itself. For that reason the telematics units market is just of temporary nature. In 10 years all vehicles will be equipped to transmit data and smart / black boxes will be unnecessary.
Let’s move on to the weather information. Imagine you have thousands of cars around with temperature and rain sensors. Why would you keep investing in weather stations ? The data you’ll collect will be more precise, in real-time and will potentially cover a much bigger part of the country. The cars are moving; the weather stations aren’t.
Once again technological advances make it possible to gather increasing amounts of data on customers’ behaviors. This may bring indeed added value for customers; but on the other side it may increase the bargaining power of firms which have data vs. those which don’t. Eventually we may predict that this unbalance may be detrimental for customers’ rights. Locking the customers will inevitably result in a loss of purchasing power.