[telecom] Merging Cellphones and Dashboards

Merging Cellphones and Dashboards

By ROY FURCHGOTT June 8, 2012

SEEKING to please those customers clamoring for more features in their cars, General Motors will soon make a novel offer: give them less.

No, G.M.'s strategy is not to shortchange buyers, but simply to let them avoid buying what they already own. Today, calling home is rarely done on a phone built into the dashboard, and recorded music is less often stored on CDs jammed into the glove box; increasingly, the smartphone in the driver's pocket serves both needs.

So G.M.'s newest approach is a fundamental shift in philosophy from the practice of embedding such technology in the bowels of the car. Instead, it will offer an inexpensive link that lets drivers control their phone - and more important, its apps - using the dashboard touch screen.

Although phones have routinely connected to the dash for calls, this system is far more versatile. Buyers of two Chevrolet models will be able to get music and directions through subscription or phone service plans they already have.

Essentially, G.M. is proposing to replace the cellphone's windshield cradle with software.

There are many benefits to this alternative approach, starting with its lower price. When the Chevrolet Spark goes on sale next month, the upper-level 1LT and 2LT models, which start under $15,000, will come with the infotainment system MyLink and a 7-inch touch screen as standard equipment. (The larger Chevy Sonic will offer MyLink late this summer.)

A cellphone-style infotainment system can bring other advantages: the interface is typically more familiar to users, especially young ones, and its maps are fresher than those of onboard DVDs.

But there can be shortcomings. An app like Google Maps downloads data to a phone while it is in use, and most phone plans limit the amount of data you can use. At the least, it means people would need more expensive data plans.


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Reply to
Monty Solomon
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A town in Texas recently decided to outlaw all phone use in cars, except for phones built into the car. Of course, the news reporters initially reported it as outlawing phones in cars, suggesting that it is illegal to put your cell phone in the trunk to get it from home to work without using it on the way. (IMHO, the law should only exempt phone use while driving when the *DRIVER* is built into the car). And I should be able to keep a phone in my pocket should the car come to an unexpected stop for reasons like accident, mechanical breakdown, or medical emergency, which don't require the phone to be used while the car is in motion.

Under this law, something like OnStar would be allowed. GM's new setup probably wouldn't. It's amazing how many new ways there are to distract drivers from driving and how much effort is being put into it. New problem I expect soon: on-windshield advertising for businesses you are about to drive by, obscuring the traffic you are driving in.

Reply to
Gordon Burditt

I wasn't aware that cars like that were commercially available yet.

R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

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