For Subscribers

Robo-Car Roadblocks

Telematics continues to face some potholes.

By Mike Hogan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What happened to all those snazzy wireless features we weresupposed to get in our automobiles? Remote diagnostics andemergency and navigation help are still on the map, says businessresearch firm Jupiter Media Metrix. But the broader telematicsvision has been shaken up by fairly deep potholes-a stock marketcrash, a recession and the specter of terrorism. Other barriersinclude "a lack of standards for subsystem interconnection,messaging protocols, hardware interfaces and signaling," addsJupiter analyst Jay Horwitz.

Detroit and its wireless partners are still trying to figure outhow they'll recover the $1,075 they've paid to outfit eachof the 2.5 million telematics-equipped cars already on the road.Sub-scribers should double this year, and almost 80 percent ofthose interviewed by Jupiter want at least one telematics service.Half would chip in $400 upfront for the right service bundle. Butthat still won't cover telematics costs-much less profit. Also,consumers show little interest in duplicating the e-mail andvoice-mail features of their phones and PDAs. Even though half ofall cell minutes originate in automobiles, office productivity andlocation services are way down the wish list.

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