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Bonus Quick Note: GM OnStar API

January 23, 2012

An article in ExtremeTech.com, “GM OnStar API: Angry Birds for your center console, but is it worth $300/year?,” tells us that GM and OnStar are introducing an Application Programming Interface (API) for OnStar. The result of this, they hope, will be the creation of a dynamic after market for applications that can run on the OnStar application.

The article offers this take on situation:

When GM’s OnStar rolled out its open API Sunday at the first press conferernce of CES 2012, it was hoping a wave of developers will make the OnStar service even more popular as hundreds and then hundreds of thousands of apps boost OnStar’s popularity, much as third-party apps made the Apple iPhone successful. At the same time, OnStar may be hedging its bets in search of everyday reasons customers should spend $200-$300 per year. OnStar’s past has been pushing once-in-a-lifetime uses, typically responding to a serious accident on a deserted road, along with remote door unlocking. [italics are mine, and show quotations from the article]

The article also helps us understand the motivations for this move:

GM launched OnStar in 1995. Currently it’s a GM-only service. Because of the cost of the embedded telematics package it was initially on higher-end GM cars. Now with cheaper telematics, it’s across the entire line with the exception of some fleet cars. GM’s biggest challenge has been getting owners to renew after the free introductory period (up to a year free). Analysts say renewals ran around 60% when primarily high-end cars had OnStars, less now. GM doesn’t release renewal information. Eric Litt, chief information officer of OnStar, nailed it when he said, “We want to give people 1,001 reasons to keep their OnStar subscription active. We feel that opening up our proprietary API to developers will ensure that OnStar continues to keep customers connected in ways they never thought possible.”

The article is interesting, and worth a look. But please don’t play “Angry Birds” while you are driving.

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From → Mobile, Technology

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