January 9, 2012 report
OnStar opens gate for third-party developers
(PhysOrg.com) -- OnStar staged a Sunday night conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to announce that the telematics provider will open its application program interface (API) to third-party developers. OnStar also used the CES venue to announce that it has struck a deal with Verizon that will make use of Verizons 4G LTE service to carry a variety of content. The beam-up to bring digital cars of the future to 2012 is a competitive move by GM-owned OnStar to enhance its portfolio of services.
Pragmatic locked-out uses will extend into lock-me-in uses in infotainment. The move is aimed at giving customers more reasons to be willing to stay with OnStar.
Company president Linda Marshall said, Customer demand is driving a new marketplace for a variety of automotive applications. With this step we believe we can broaden our portfolio, grow our business and enable our customers to achieve additional functionality from their vehicle using their computer, smartphone, tablet or other device.
Video: CES 2012 OnStar API
As a technology-centric service, OnStar said it had to move faster than the longer automobile development cycles.
Selected developers can plan on getting on board with OnStar in the first half of this year via its Advanced Telematics Operating System (ATOMS) server, which connects to over six million customers.
Popularly cited statistics show that, over the past 15 years, OnStar Advisors have answered 346 million button pushes, responded to over 160,000 vehicle crashes, unlocked more than 5 million doors, provided 2.6 million with roadside assistance and routed customers to their destination more than 70 million times.
Now OnStar wants to travel into additional, customized territory. Like other companies, OnStar has recognized that opening up to third-party developers can be a fast and profitable way to bring successful products to market.
The possibilities include restaurant reviews, apps for cars with large fleets, social networking, gaming, and maintenance-related text alerts.
Early users at the ATOMS gate will be GM-backed RelayRides, a peer to peer service that was launched in 2010. Last year, San Francisco-based RelayRides announced its special partnership with GM. Relay Rides is a company that has users renting out their cars to others. The idea is that OnStar subscribers who use RelayRides can unlock the reserved car through OnStar with a smartphone. The app will launch this year.
Video: OnStar RelayRides
On the Verizon side, the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network will be used for OnStar service. A demo at CES showed a Verizon rep Skyping from the back seat of a 4G-enabled Volt. Using Verizons high-speed 4G LTE network, the vision is vehicle occupants accessing streaming content from the web, holding Skype video conversations and playing games.
When asked about costs, a senior OnStar executive at the Vegas show said several pricing options may be possible.
According to OnStar, developers interested in the API should contact OnStar at developers(at)onstar.com.
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