March 3, 2016

Following on the heels of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, a revitalized automotive industry has dominated yet another major tech conference: Mobile World Congress 2016. Amongst talk of 5G network rollouts and a growing offering of VR demos, it was the connected car that outshined the usual suspects, with many smartphones and gadgets being delegated to tech status quo. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the GSMA made the road to the connected to the connected and autonomous car one of their key pillars at the show, stating that there will be 44 million automated vehicles by 2030. Mojio was at the forefront of this activity at Mobile World Congress, highlighting the growing role of the tech startup within the established mobile and automotive industries.

Innovation for Today’s Drivers

The appeal of a self-driving future is certainly hard to resist, especially when you’re sitting inside Mercedes Benz’s F 015 Luxury in Motion autonomous car. But the most pressing opportunity is to connect the vehicles already on the road today. During his keynote, Samsung’s senior vice president of enterprise business, Hyesung Ha, highlighted that the number of cars on the road will reach 1.4 billion globally by 2020. Many experts estimate that 30 percent of those cars will be connected by then – either through complex embedded systems in the newest models or via efficient aftermarket solutions like Mojio provides today for most cars built since 1996.

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A look inside the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research car and its immersive user experience.

For Mojio, this focus on the connected car from both the mobile industry and the over 100,000 attendees at Mobile World Congress is nothing but positive. When it comes to innovation, however, the new kids on the block – startups like Mojio – are beginning to steal the stage from the big brands. In fact, the GSMA selected Mojio as one of just five startups for its Innovations of Things event on Thursday, February 25th. I had the opportunity to explain to the packed room how Mojio is able to connect nearly any car via the OBD-II (on board diagnostics) port, unlocking previously hidden automotive data to help drivers save money and keep an eye on what matters most. Through our open platform we’re able to support a growing number of use cases like vehicle security, maintenance and repairs, safe driving behaviour and usage-based insurance. This innovation is the direct result of our Silicon Valley approach that addresses a near-term market of around 350 million cars on the road today. In case you still think this is a futuristic concept, consumers are saying otherwise. 37% of car buyers are willing to switch brands for better connectivity (up from 20% in 2014) and 32% are willing to pay a subscription for connected services today (up from 21% in 2014).

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Mojio CEO Kenny Hawk on stage at Mobile World Congress during the Innovation of Things event

So why aren’t the automakers servicing the needs of today’s drivers? Well, despite their best efforts to offer exciting infotainment and connectivity solutions in the newest (and typically more expensive) models, they simply cannot address the hundreds of millions of drivers who aren’t in the market for a new car now and won’t be for another five to ten years. Decades of cutthroat competition, 5-7 year development cycles and legal departments that seem to have been built to stifle innovation are just a few of the reasons. We believe that everyone can and should have a connected car today.

“The number of cars on the road will reach 1.4 billion globally by 2020.”

What’s more, OEMs can’t offer the seamless experience of personalizing a connected driving experience to their customers needs and wants. The only way to do that is through a truly open ecosystem, one that is independent of the auto brand and can be easily adapted to constantly evolving hardware and connectivity options. This open approach enables the owner of the car to become the owner of his or her data. Novel? Yes, but we believe this is simply the logical evolution of car ownership. As software continues to eat the world, startups like Mojio are poised to take a big bite out of the connected car market.

Partnerships Are Driving the Connected Car

From our perspective, two key trends have come out of Mobile World Congress. First, mobile carriers have really woken up to the potential of connected cars. Beyond the obvious bottom-line benefits to being the connectivity provider for millions of cars, carriers have an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with their customers, one that has grown from the smartphone to the connected home and will now penetrate the car. Increasingly, they’re turning to partners to help them make this happen more efficiently.

Just ahead of Mobile World Congress, nine carriers including Deutsche Telekom, BT, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, Millicom, MTS, Orange, Rogers, TeliaSonera and TIM announced an alliance to allow partner businesses and startups to more efficiently and quickly bring innovative products and services to customers around the world – ultimately to create better value for these carriers’ billion+ customers. Mojio was highlighted as one of these key partners alongside other innovative companies like Airbnb and Spotify.

To this end, during Mobile World Congress, Marc Sommer, SVP Business Development at Deutsche Telekom (one of Mojio’s investors) outlined this alliance and announced that its subsidiary T-Mobile Czech would be rolling out its first connected car solution (powered by Mojio) this year across the country.

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From L-R: Cezary Formejster, Senior Manager Product Marketing & Partnering Europe, Deutsche Telekom; Kenny Hawk, CEO Mojio; Marc Sommer, SVP Business Development & Venturing, Deutsche Telekom

“This smart solution will make drivers’ lives easier, safer and more comfortable,” says Tomáš Ryšavý, Vice President B2C and Product Marketing at T-Mobile Czech, adding: “The activity in the area of smart cars is part of our IoT strategy that we started fulfilling last year. Our launch partner, Mojio, is a winner of many contests and has held more connected car hackathons than any other player in the market.”

Sommer outlined on stage at Mobile World Congress that this was just the first test case of utilizing Mojio’s connected car platform and that Deutsche Telekom and its alliance partners anticipated offering this solution to their billion plus customers. You can watch the complete announcement from Marc Sommer below.

The second key trend that became apparent to us at Mobile World Congress was the move from existing mobile handset manufacturers to jump into the hardware portion of the connected car industry. The announcement around Samsung’s new OBD-II dongle secured a lot of attention, but other players were also active during the show including Huawei.

Notably for Mojio, ZTE and its subsidiary ZTEWelink signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Mojio to further its penetration within the connected car market. With this agreement, ZTE becomes the first Tier 1 handset manufacturer to benefit from the “Made for Mojio” certification program, enabling a turnkey connected car solution for mobile carriers globally. By connecting a Made for Mojio certified ZTE device to their car, drivers will unlock automotive data and access an ever-growing suite of connected car apps. Speaking about the deal, Wang Zhijun, VP of ZTEWelink said: “We are delighted to cooperate with Mojio and we will work together to provide global operators and partners with E2E solutions and help them rapidly launch connected car services.”

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ZTE and Mojio sign agreement to launch turnkey connected car solution for mobile carriers

With the entire mobile industry paying special attention to the connected car at Mobile World Congress, it’s become clear that all cars will soon be connected (existing cars via aftermarket OBD-II dongles and Mojio’s cloud platform, and new cars via a slew of embedded solutions) – whether that’s from the automotive OEMs or via innovative software startups. Deutsche Telekom and ZTE are turning to partners like Mojio to provide the platform for global, scalable connected car offerings, signalling an exciting time for not only the automotive and mobile industries, but ultimately for end users who’ll soon be able to enjoy a new era of car ownership and driving experiences.