We have already seen how an Internet of Things and constant connectivity raise a whole host of unanticipated issues regarding privacy and safety. Google Glass has already inspired the creation of
the new geek social type: the “Glasshole” who talks to his device and records others surreptitiously. Google even recognizes the term and offers a list of Dos and Don’ts.
Walking while texting and mobile browsing is now so chronic that Apple is trying to patent a technology that uses the rear facing camera to give walkers a view of the world while engaging in heads-down walking. A number of third-party apps have tried this as well. And of course the automakers have been especially anxious about letting connectivity into the cockpit. As much as the connected car and in-cabin infotainment offer the industry great new chances for revenue and differentiation, still carmakers are aware of liability issues and car safety.
But we have already seen some of the ways in which the car itself will be targeted. In addition to proprietary
solutions from the carmakers, both Apple and Google have in-car OSes, and networks like Aha by Harman are already looking for ways into the cabin. Early tests of geo-targeted ads have done things like
send discount offers to dashboards as they enter zones served by certain QSRs.
The first metrics of in-car use are starting to scale. But this is a case where we have multiple moving targets. The technology is penetrating deep into the base as users themselves start going through an accommodation phase where they figure out just how they want to use this connectivity.
The Tesla is one of the first cars to have connectivity as the default and to have a browser embedded into the 17-inch screen in the center of the dashboard. Browser and traffic analytics company Quantcast reports that after a year in market Tesla users are now starting to cast off statistically significant amounts of browser use worth reporting. We don’t know of course whether drivers or their passengers are browsing, and whether this is being done from a parked or moving state. And it goes without saying that the Tesla driver represents a non-typical demographic.
But Quantcast does report that 54% of Tesla browser activity is aimed at news content, and a quarter of that traffic was to local news sites. Quantcast says that the share of browsing going to news in a Tesla is much larger than is typical online. They also found, unsurprisingly, that 13% of all browser page views were to financial sites. Again, these are Tesla drivers.
Among the other leading content types are Services (15%), Entertainment (14%), Lifestyle (12%).
Curiously, the leading single site for Tesla drivers is Drudge Report. That site alone attracts 10% of Tesla drivers. Doe that mean that Tesla is a right-wing-skewing car for Obamaphobes? Or just that Drudge has a bigger headline than just about anyone else online? Or that sharper-eyed drivers can use it as a portal to other news sites?
Or is it a car that appeals to members of California’s conservative elite? It so happens that 66% of page views delivered to Teslas originate from Southern California. Far behind but ahead of any Northern or Midwest city is Texas (8%) and Georgia (9%). Wow, maybe the Tesla is a red-state car?
Less curious is the day parting of in-car use: highest at commuting hours, with a bump at lunch. Content preferences shift from news and finance in the morning more towards entertainment in the afternoon.
Also important is that these tech-savvy Tesla owners are using a dashboard browser at all, considering they all certainly have smartphones. Certainly the base is small. Only about 25,000 Teslas reportedly are on the road, and this Quantcast run detected a total of 463,000 page views coming from the cars in a month. But it does suggest that drivers will make use of their in-car connectivity for a range of infotainment activities, and they may parse certain functions to the dashboard vs. the smartphone.
All of which begs the question: Will we see second screening occur in the car now? With two displays in close proximity, one wonders if the next layer of functionality involves the easy “throwing” of content from one to the other. After all, the directions you just found on your cell phone are best tossed to the embedded directions system in your dashboard, right? That coupon served to you by the Quiznos you are driving near is best redeemed in-store from your smartphone, no?