Sprint To Automakers: Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Wretched In-Dash Gizmos

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
sprint to automakers give us your tired your poor your wretched in dash gizmos

Sprint Nextel presents a new “Velocity” in-vehicle communications and entertainment architecture at the LA auto show. You can’t buy it from Sprint, but Sprint hopes your automaker will buy it from them. This did not keep Sprint from taking jabs at its presumptive customers:

“They know how to make great cars. They assemble these vehicles that we all fall in love with. But when it comes to this stuff, they are not in the communications business.”

So spoke Wayne Ward, Sprint’s vice president of emerging solutions, to Reuters.

Velocity meets automakers with severe migraine. Misunderstood technology did cost precious J.D.Power points. Consumer Reports panned the MyFord Touch system and called GM’s new CUE system “convoluted and frustrating.”

“This stuff is pretty hard,” said Ward who hopes that automakers learn to leave the stuff to the experts.

Velocity is an application framework for infotainment and telematic systems. It includes Infotainment and streaming music, remote locking and unlocking, vehicle start, 911 assist, even creating a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot.

Sprint’s first customer is Chrysler which uses Velocity as the basis for its UConnect system in the Ram pickup truck and Dodge Viper.

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8 of 11 comments
  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Nov 30, 2012

    Automakers suck at software, it's no secret. This goes double for the aftermarket (Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine...etc). Google and Apple have user interfaces pretty well figured out. Motorola's auto dock for their razr line does a nice job of skinning android to make the thing easy to use for music, navigation, and telephone while behind the wheel. Automakers need to leave this one to the software/usability experts.

    • Colinshark Colinshark on Dec 01, 2012

      Agree. Everyone thinks they can design a good interface, but that's not the case. It is difficult, and requires real skill, knowledge, and experience. The best interfaces come from companies with the best designers (like Apple and Google), or from companies with their hands tied by an extremely limited interface, like on non-smart phones or old mechanical center consoles on cars. Give them a big screen with touch input, they they will fuck up all sorts of ways. I'm a software engineer, and I prefer physical buttons and sliders for a number of reasons.

  • Tikki50 Tikki50 on Nov 30, 2012

    there is no way in hell I would want a sprint app running my car. I hate that friggin company. It figures they would say "this stuff is hard" funny that's what your company does, yet it's difficult for you. That explains a lot! I'll trust GM and others to make an app and have it more secure than sprint ever thought they needed it. Any brand that starts picking up sub brands to handle in car technology is only shooting themselves in the foot. Do it yourself and do it right.

    • See 1 previous
    • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Dec 01, 2012

      but they don't seem to be able to do it right! I have to say that at this point, the best one of these systems is the one on my friend's brand new 2013 Ram. It's apparently the Sprint one and works pretty well. The most annoying one (IMO) is the Ford one. The update helped, but it's still to slow and gets stuck sometimes. My 2010 Challenger just has the old "U-connect" and it works ok, but every once in a while, when I'm telling it to dial something like, "4195551212", it misses numbers or just tries to dial different ones. Then, when you say "clear" or "no" when it asks you if it's correct, it gets all confused and you have to exit U-connect and start over again. One time, I thought I had a stroke or something, it just refused to correctly dial the number I was saying over and over again. I gave it a few minutes and it was fine. It's the only real problem I've ever had with the U-connect system. I don't think these systems, any of them, are a really good idea.

  • Icemilkcoffee Icemilkcoffee on Nov 30, 2012

    "But when it comes to this stuff, they are not in the communications business" Neither is Sprint-Nextel. These two losers have by far the slowest network around. Try to use the internet on their cell network here in the Bay Area- your lunch hour will be over before you can load a page.

  • Geekcarlover Geekcarlover on Nov 30, 2012

    I'm surprised someone didn't do this already. I wonder if any car company went to a communications company and said "We need a system that does X,Y, and Z" before developing it themselves.

    • Tedward Tedward on Dec 01, 2012

      Manufacturers have a far different perception of acceptable margins than software companies do. Software companies are also used to being the marque name on any given product, so I'm sure they'd expect to be THE major marketing point on a vehicle, which I think a car-maker would be idiotic to play too far along with. 5 years down the line, exclusivity contract over, they show up everywhere and all that ad buy ends up benefiting the competitors. Or, conversely, the software company screws up in any other aspect of their business (slave labor, blue screen of death, etc...) and the car maker is tarred by association.