In April, OnStar hosted a web chat with Nick Pudar — Vice President of Planning and Business Development. Questions ranged from the future of OnStar, the possibilities for voice-based communications, what’s in store for subsequent MyLink app releases, privacy, and — of course — MyLink app compatibility with 2010 model-year vehicles.
Here are the highlights:
Question: What does OnStar have in store for the future in terms of connectivity?
Nick: A lot more tools for destination management, because navigation and location services are becoming more pervasive in our daily lives.
Question: I know you can now use on star to read your facebook info and i’m wondering what other things such as this will be in onstar’s future?
Nick: This Facebook Audio Updates beta test has been a good learning journey for us. We are now exploring other voice-based social media communications and other mechanisms. This would include a killer texting solution. Stay tuned for more!
Question: What all can you do with the MyLink app? What are the possibilities? And why is it not available to everyone?
Nick: The MyLink app provides vehicle functionality control (door unlock/lock, remote start, flash lights/honk horn), and also vehicle information such as fuel level, tire pressure, range. If you’re fortunate to be driving a Chevy Volt it also includes battery status and charging control. We’re playing with lots more fun extensions, and are looking forward to future releases. On the availability question, it’s a practical issue of vehicle architecture, software and OnStar hardware. Earlier model year vehicles weren’t built for mobile app functionality.
Question: Hey Nick! Is there a timetable on 2010 chevy vehicles i.e. the Camaro being available to work with the onstar iPhone app?
Nick: Rodney, to elaborate a little more on this topic, the 2010 Camaro is one of the vehicles with hardware and technical limitations that prevented us from enabling a meaningful level of functionality. It would’ve been severely limited. However, many customers have said they would like to see an app with only the very basic functionality. We are currently looking into developing a modified version of the app with the basic functions.
Question: Are you concerned at all about privacy?
Nick: Katie, we take privacy extremely seriously, and have since the start of the company in 1996. Everything we do has privacy among our top considerations. We have extremely strict policies and guidelines for how subscriber information is used. All the details are on OnStar.com.
Question: Nick, OnStar has been solid in North America for years. Service in China launched in the last two years. What region or country is next?
Nick: Subscriber levels in China have grown rapidly over the last 18 months. We just passed the quarter million mark there, and those customers love using Turn-by-Turn to get around China’s sprawling cities. We’re aggressively exploring other regions and countries, but don’t have anything to announce right now.
Question: What is the future of OnStar? Do you see it becoming bigger than just an in-vehcile device? Seems like there are a lot of oppotunities with the technology.
Nick: Sammy, OnStar has built a powerful brand for piece of mind services. There are clearly many adjacent business opportunities to participate in. We are exploring those.
Question: OnStar and vehicle safety. Even without 4G bandwidth, how about adding a forward facing camera and removable SD card slot for recording while driving. Then negotiate discounts with insurance carriers for having video of a particular event. Maybe playback built into mirror for on-scene analysis by police officer. Not necessarily to be captured/streamed to OnStar reps (unless by request or accident alert). maybe as an upgrade option. Thoughts?
Nick: NJ Joe, we’ve looked at this one for quite a few years. The cost of the camera and recording capabilities is prohibitive to put it across the portfolio given how many customers would want to use it. At some point in the future forward-facing cameras may be a part of vehicle functionality (at which point we’d leverage it). In the meantime, there may be some upgrade opportunities in the future.
Question: Are there any plans to roll out any more support for 2011 vehicles for the mylink application?
Nick Pudar: Yes. We are currently working on it for the 2011 Chevy Malibu and HHR.
Question: Why did on star start selling their product to non GM owners since it’s been a GM brand for so many years?
Nick: We wish everyone would buy a new GM vehicle, but we know that’s not realistic! We also believe that our service is meaningful to people and their families. The OnStar FMV product is a great way to make our services available to everyone.
Find the entire chat right here.