CES has long been a showcase for automotive gadgetry and a chance for tech companies to pitch their gear to carmakers. This year, the consumer electronics show was embracing an increasingly valuable byproduct of all this activity: data.
Modern cars roll out of factories packed with cellular connections, powerful processors and growing suite of sensors, including cameras, radar and microphones. That’s turning them into the next information gold mine, rivaling the data-creating capabilities of smartphones.
Amazon.com Inc., Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and BlackBerry Ltd. were at the Las Vegas conference to pitch data-crunching services and partnerships to an auto industry searching for new revenue streams and business models.
“This market is no longer strictly focused on selling hard parts,” said Brian Rhodes, an automotive technology analyst at IHS Markit.
Automakers are trying to control the data generated by their vehicles and avoid being marginalized by technology giants. It’s a challenge because car companies lack deep software talent and are already battling the incursion of smartphones and related technology. Apple Inc.’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto software, installed on vehicle dashboard screens, funnel data to and from smartphones and largely bypass carmakers’ systems.
The industry “passed a while ago a very important line in the sand,” said Henrik Fisker, CEO of electric vehicle manufacturer Fisker Inc.
After years of setbacks and delays, Fisker debuted its Ocean electric SUV at CES. The company wants to generate the majority of its profit from software and services over the long term, with an app controlling ordering, lease payments, upgrades and more.
Intel has paired with Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen to use driver-assistance technology called Mobileye. At CES, Intel showed off a map of Las Vegas created with information from BMW cars that drove around the city for only 24 hours. Intel says such fresh information is more valuable than traditional navigation systems, which use special survey vehicles that collect and send in images and data for updates that can take months.
Intel predicts the market for such data will be worth as much as $3.5 billion a year by 2030. McKinsey & Co. sees a much larger opportunity. A few years ago, the consulting firm said up to $750 billion of value would created from car-related data by 2030.