Sramana Mitra: Interesting. I wonder how successful that business is.
Lori Sylvia: I think they are pretty successful. They found a very niche market, and they do well. They are the number one luxury brand.
Another example of a service is provided by Panasonic. They are a very forward-thinking company. They have a line of ruggedized Android tablets that everyone is very familiar with. Their customers are enterprise customers – companies that are in the services industry, construction industry, or logistics industry. What Panasonic does is provide software management as a service to their enterprise customers. If they have a logistics company, for example, that company has its own applications that manage routes for drivers, monitor the weight of trucks, manage fuel consumption, etc. There are certain applications that are running on those tablets. Using our management platform Panasonic can allow their enterprise customers to manage their applications themselves – independently from Panasonic, which is responsible for keeping the firmware up to date. This is an example of an OEM that is not just trying to provide the best tablet, but to provide a service-oriented relationship for their enterprise customers.
SM: Those are a very interesting set of use cases. The most interesting one in my opinion is what you are doing in emerging markets. By using virtualization, you are able to dramatically drop the cost of feature phones that can go to a broader market. It seems like there are some interesting service opportunities on top of those that are going to vastly increase adoption. Do you have any concluding thoughts?
LS: Over the next few years, we are going to see more and more sophisticated applications coming into cars. We want to be an important part of that and already are with a number of manufacturer customers that we have globally, who are already using our software management capability. The lifetime of a car can be 10 years, and it is very hard for manufacturers to anticipate what consumers will want three or four years from now. Going forward, cars will be able to stay on a refresh cycle, much more closely aligned to typical consumer electronics. I think this is something that is very important.
SM: Would that require the car to be brought into the dealership for that kind of tuning, or will that happen automatically through a wireless connection?
LS: It is happening today. There are several OEMs that are thought leaders and early adopters of this kind of capability. You can already get an update to your IVI [in-vehicle infotainment] system that tomorrow would include three new applications that you didn’t have the day before. Or suddenly you have access to an application ecosystem, and you can choose your own applications. It does require you to have some kind of wireless connectivity, but increasingly cars are coming built in with this type of wireless module. You could also have Wi-Fi connectivity, and you can imagine that the car is running but parked in your driveway or in front of your apartment, you can wait a few minutes, and the software update will happen.
SM: That is going to be easily solved if the car comes with a Wi-Fi chip. As soon as it comes into the driveway, it can plug in to the wireless of the house or company. That would make life a lot simpler.
LS: I agree. This kind of technology didn’t exist in the automotive industry, but they turned to companies like RedBend, which has done this for mobile devices, and now you see several cars that have this capability and more coming online. Within five years this is going to be a standard feature of every passenger car.
SM: It was very nice talking to you.
LS: Thank you. It was great speaking with you as well.