NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The latest mega-fad in the automotive business is the so-called connected car. Basically, in a variety of ways, the car is to become one big smartphone, always connected to some service in the network, and remotely monitored. Even self-driving, eventually.
The trend toward the connected car is terribly bad, superfluous and even a danger to our liberties and national security. But I have a solution that could make car companies happy and satisfy different consumers' preferences.
What is this misguided combination of connected car services that are being foisted upon the automotive buyer at a rapidly increasing pace?
- Infotainment services. The purpose of these seems to be to copy everything that you're already doing on your smartphone -- but with a multi-year lag.
- Assisted driving. The purpose of this category is to approach the self-driving car nirvana step by step over the next decade or two. The car will help you steer, accelerate and brake so that you don't crash into anything or anybody.
- Remote monitoring. This means monitoring your car, so that if you have Alzheimer's or can't remember where your car is, you can find it in the parking lot. It also means you can have your car stopped and recovered if it has been stolen.
At a minimum, these new functionalities are being pushed by auto companies who want to sell the consumer new and expensive options. Egged on by semiconductor companies who would like to sell more chips, sensor companies who want a radar, camera and laser poking out of every kind of device under the sun, and envious of the power of the big Internet cloud and social companies such as Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB), the car companies view the connected car as a new way to sell you a more expensive vehicle.
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Let me debunk the connected car bubble step by step.
We are now being told that every car needs a cellular data modem (4G/LTE) and a built-in computer that can host exactly the same kind of apps and functionalities that my smartphone already has. This is completely redundant even at the outset.
I already have all of these things in my smartphone. Perhaps I want to connect my smartphone to the car's speaker system. That's about it. Why would I want to pay twice for computer hardware, apps and connectivity? I know why AT&T (T) wants me to pay for an additional data plan, but my interests and AT&T's interests are, um, not exactly aligned here.