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Driving the Connected Car East with China Unicom

Some of the fastest growing and most important automotive markets are the emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China – often referred to as the BRIC countries.

A lot of attention is currently gien to China, which surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest automotive market back in 2009. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), over 19.4 million vehicles were sold in China in 2012. These numbers will grow to over 34 million in 2019, according to Strategy Analytics.

Additionally, nearly half of those vehicles sold in China will have either embedded modems or tethered device telematics capability by 2019, according to Strategy Analytics. Forecasts such as these highlight the tremendous growth opportunities of the connected car in China. It is not surprising that China and Connected Car Solutions are a key priority for automotive OEMs worldwide.

Maybe a bit more surprising for the automotive community is that wireless carriers worldwide are paying very close attention to the automotive telematics market. Over the last few years, they have ramped up their emerging devices, M2M or Internet of Things (IoT) business units.

The Changing Role of Wireless Carriers

Wireless carriers used to have a more traditional role in telematics by primarily providing its network or pipe as part of a telematics solution. They would focus primarily on transport, often even leaving SIM activation and deactivation to other services providers.

However, the global trend for carriers is to move towards more of a platform-as-a-service model by getting all kinds of devices connected - cars happen to be one of the most exciting ones. As seen recently with Airbiquity’s Sprint, Velocity and China Unicom announcements, as well as Vodafone previously, wireless carriers even go a step further by replacing the traditional value chain and offering end-to-end telematics solutions directly to automotive OEMs, fundamentally changing the value chain and business models going forward.

Airbiquity’s Choreo Service Delivery Platform plays an important role with our carrier partners by offering end-to-end solutions for automotive OEMs and allowing them to adopt a managed services business model. Many automotive OEMs are working with wireless carriers as Tier 1s to leverage brand, billing, content & apps relationships and CRM capabilities and explore new business models, but lack the critical middleware solution and technology innovation, as well as vertical expertise, within the automotive industry.

Airbiquity’ Choreo platform is a global, highly-scalable, private cloud for connected vehicle service delivery that offers virtually unlimited reach and processing capacity. The Choreo cloud platform can be configured to meet several vertical application needs within the automotive industry, such as embedded consumer telematics services (safety & security), electric vehicles, smartphone & cloud apps integration, consumer and commercial fleet solutions, and even other M2M vertical applications.

Moving East to China

China is a very unique market, characterized by unique consumer requirements such as consumer needs, price sensitivity and content consumption. Furthermore, it is a highly regulated environment for telematics services.

By partnering with China Unicom, a leading carrier in the automotive telematics space in China, Airbiquity will help existing customers enter the booming Chinese telematics market, as well as attract other automotive OEMs with a pre-packaged cloud platform.

The program is powered by Airbiquity’s Choreo platform and sold via China Unicom in a bundle with China Unicom’s WCDMA and upcoming LTE network, as well as local content and service partners.

China Unicom’s local expertise, bundled with Airbiquity’s cloud platform, offers automotive OEMs a best-in class localized end-to-end solution utilizing local content and app partners while leveraging Airbiquity’s global technology innovation and vertical expertise.

Future telematics generations will rely more and more on cloud-based delivery for content, information and services, whether they are traditional or more consumer-focused (traffic, weather, Internet Radio or anything else one can imagine). Essentially, mobile ubiquity is set to turn the car into a massive infotainment hub, which in turn will open new avenues of business opportunities for any number of content, applications and services industries. We are excited about leading that revolution in China—and beyond.