|October 11, 2000|
MobileAria For Hands-Free Internet Access In Cars
|MobileAria, Inc., a company that will develop a new, handsfree mobile Internet service platform for the automobile, was launched today with investments from industry leaders Delphi Automotive Systems, Palm, Inc. and Mayfield Fund. MobileAria plans to provide an open platform to enable "in-vehicle" access and management of personal information, mobile Internet services and entertainment through a hands-free, "eyes-on-the-road," voice-activated interface.|
MobileAria intends to be the first company to develop an open service platform that integrates handheld computers, mobile phones, personalized information, Internet content and voice recognition. MobileAria, based in Silicon Valley, expects to launch the initial in-vehicle platform and service during the second quarter of 2001. The new company will benefit from the powerful distribution channels of its strategic investors, Delphi Automotive and Palm.
"North Americans spend 26 billion hours in their automobiles each year. MobileAria will allow that time to be spent more productively by providing hands-free, mobile Internet access to personalized content and applications in a non-distracting manner," said Tom O'Gara, co-founder of MobileAria.
MobileAria is creating an open service platform for delivering wireless Internet content and applications uniquely integrated for the in-vehicle environment. The service will be delivered through a hands-free, voice-activated interface that will enable users to manage their time and information simply and in a non-distracting manner.
The initial MobileAria service offering will focus on increasing the user's productivity by providing voice-activated management of the user's personal information and voice-activated wireless Internet access to applications like email (including voice tag email response), desktop synchronization, news, weather, stock quotes, flight information, directions/routing and traffic information. The initial service will be offered over integrated hardware, consisting of Delphi's Communiport(r) Mobile Productivity Center (MPC), a mobile phone and a Palm(tm) handheld.
As network capacity and hardware capabilities continue to evolve, MobileAria intends to provide enhanced multimedia content, information and entertainment, including streaming audio and video, mobile commerce, stock trading, rich messaging and additional location-based services. In the future, MobileAria plans to interface with leading cellular telephony technologies and additional handheld device brands while offering network services based on major standards to optimize coverage, quality and cost.
According to Goldman Sachs (source: Eautomotive report, March 2000), people in North America spend a combined 500 million passenger-hours in their vehicles each week, or 26 billion hours annually, and up to 80 percent of cellular phone calls are originated from within an automobile. Meanwhile, according to Delphi Automotive research, 36 percent of handheld computer owners surveyed reported that they use their handheld computers while driving.
"There is a strong desire to be connected anytime and anywhere, and time management is becoming a key issue for consumers and business people," said Janice Roberts, general partner at Mayfield Fund, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. "There's been a proliferation of mobile devices, for both voice and data connectivity, and we believe there is a significant business opportunity in providing the next step of 'invehicle' communications and in enabling responsible access to information."
UBS Warburg expects the voice and data automotive service market to grow to $33 billion by 2010 (source: Worldwide Telematics, Aug. 21, 2000, by Peter Boardman). MobileAria's strategy is to capture a significant portion of this market by leveraging portable, user-friendly, fast-to-market, and open platform solutions for any vehicle.
According to Delphi Automotive's research, 73 percent of handheld computer owners expressed interest in having voice-activated access to the handheld computers in their next vehicle.
MobileAria will be automotive OEM independent, making it a compelling offering for all automakers. At launch, the service will be broadly available as an after-market product for the millions of vehicles currently on the road and will eventually be available as an option in new cars.
The primary source of revenue for MobileAria will be through customer subscriptions. As the market for mobile commerce continues to grow, MobileAria may also generate revenue from subscriber transactions and technology licensing.