The New Auto Pilot: 8 Slides That Prove Mobile & Mobility Are Interconnected / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How smart phones and smart cars are changing the face of mobility, via Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report.

When you get in your car to go somewhere, what map do you use to get you there? The one on your phone or the navigation system in your car?

In some cases, yes, it largely depends on whether or not you actually have a car that’s even equipped with a navigation system. But as of a few years ago this feature has largely become ubiquitous in automobiles, even in economy cars.

That being said, the two types of computers most humans interface with most (especially using voice search) are their phone (AKA pocket computer) and the computer system inside their car.

And while not everyone can afford to upgrade their car as often as new mobile phones are released into the market, the consumer expectations of search based on interactions with a smart phone and car are shaping the face of mobility.

What follows are 8 slides from the transportation section of Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report that highlight the trends you should know about if you’re in the tech and/or automotive industry. 

1.  Phones Are Cameras and Cars Are Computers

Today, smart phones are smarter than most cars. Try finding that new restaurant in Google maps on your phone and also using your car’s navigation system to locate it. Can’t find it? That’s because the map software inside most automotive vehicles is as current as the year of your vehicle.

If you want to update the map, you typically need to purchase a DVD or memory card. Otherwise your car map remains based off a generalized landscape of existing streets and permanent locations like gas stations.

2. Car Ownership Is Expensive but Millennials Expect All the Gadgets of a Phone

Apple releases an updated phone to the market practically every year and the software updates occur wirelessly. This means your phone map (app or otherwise) is more likely to be up-to-date than the map associated with your car’s computer. But here’s the crazy part: this reality has not yet caught up to our expectations, car ownership costs are high yet “46 percent of Millennials expect vehicle technology to do everything a smartphone can.”

3. the Average Global Mobile User Has 33 Apps

Millennials aside, your smart phone is always with you. The average mobile user has roughly 33 apps; 12 that they use on a daily basis. Considering how much of the population commutes, one of those apps is likely Waze, a community based traffic app.

4. Voice Search Will Involve Phones and Cars

Some apps (like Google) have a built-in microphone feature to encourage voice search. But we’ve only recently begun scratch the surface as it relates to voice search.  With your hands at 10-and-2, this is a natural progression for car technology to adopt and improve upon.

Think, “Siri, find a Starbucks near me.” Which means, the car needs to be able to communicate to a satellite to understand where it is physically located in addition to applying this information with its internal map that (hopefully) also has the GPS location of Starbuck’s within some kind of an acceptable (5 mile?) radius to the driver.

One can begin to see some of the hurdles facing car technology and why we’re not quite there yet.

Moreover, we still have a lot of ground to cover with natural language processing as it relates to mobile devices. Once, however, voice recognition reaches a higher percentage of accuracy rate, that’s when we’ll reach the tipping point.

5. Car Computing Evolution: Mechanical to Computers  

As we look at transportation, this area of our lives is taking shape as computers and voice-activated devices become more and more integrated into our everyday lives. Namely, inside cars as many major automakers are breaking new ground in autonomous driving. The very foundation of mobility is being transformed inside the vehicle and from without.

This slide captures just how far we’ve come and how much room for improvement still lies ahead.

6. Car Automation Is Accelerating but Still in Its Infancy

Without a doubt, we’ve come a long way since 1980 but in 2016, car technology is still just beginning to rev its engine.  There are still questions around the time frame and where and how we continue to progress from here towards autonomous vehicles is largely going to be shaped by a number of factors.   

At this rate, cars are going to be able to park themselves before the navigation system has the capability to keep up with Siri locating everything for us. But I suppose maps don’t matter so much when you’re not actually driving.

7. Re-Imagining the Drivers Seat as the Lap of Luxury

It’s entirely possible that every seat inside autonomous vehicles will be a passenger seat. What a concept for taking back your commute time having the opportunity to be productive on a personal or professional level.  That—in itself—is luxury! 

This is almost like the space race. We’re seeing competition and market innovation from automotive leaders and Silicon Valley tech giants alike. Certainly, luxury brand automobile manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, is poised to take the lead innovating upon the concept of “luxury in motion.” Google is also testing out self driving cars.

Who will get to consumers first?  The answer may take shape as we round the corner to the second “golden age” of automotive innovation.

8. the Second Wave of Automotive Golden Age – We’re in It

I know what our dinner table conversation starter is going to be: the questions on this final slide. Automotive industry food for thought.


Closing Thoughts

It’s pretty profound to think about where we are now and where we’re going. The face of mobility will undoubtedly continue to undergo major changes in terms of innovation over the next few years. Keep your eyes open.

The landscape of search led by mobile as the primary consumer search device and the increasing popularity of voice search are active participants in shaping how the car computers of the future will respond to users.

Strap in because it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters.


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