GM Updates OnStar Brand for the Era of Mobile, Social Media

9/15/10Follow @wroush

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locking and unlocking doors and activating the horn and the engine. A prototype app for the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle goes further, allowing owners to check battery charge status, tire pressure, and other data.

In a conversation with Nixon after last night’s announcements, I asked whether GM felt it had to build more interactive features into OnStar in order to keep up with the expectations created by today’s smartphones. He had a long and interesting response, which I’ll quote at length:

“We have, as General Motors, responded to what we see going on in the mobile space. The general mobile space is just exploding. We are sitting here thinking about 2014. We’ve got to predict what 2014, 2015 are going to look like. But if we look back three or four years, the iPhone was just coming out, Facebook was still a campus experience, Hulu was probably on a drawing board somewhere…If we had tried to develop a social media app back in 2008, it probably would have been MySpace, because that’s what everybody was doing. We don’t know what the future holds, so we have to think about what ‘hooks’ to put into the vehicles, and design those hooks in a way that they’re flexible, so that when the next Facebook comes along, we don’t have to rip it apart to make it a reality.

“On the other hand, when we put something into the vehicle, it has to be robust and reliable. Safety and security are our hallmarks. When somebody needs help, that call has got to go through, and that is not something we are going to walk away from. We are in an interesting place because we need to create a robust, reliable platform that can deliver safety and peace of mind but can expand to be flexible and open, so that we can adapt to the change that is coming.

“…Our problem as GM has been, we spend a lot of time engineering things and not a lot of time, frankly, on the PR and marketing campaigns. That’s part of what this is about—promoting responsible connectivity. OnStar is safety and security and it’s always going to be there, but we can promote responsible connectivity and expand OnStar into other domains. Not radically different domains, but we have a brand, let’s build on it and let’s tell people the story.”

Compare this story to:

OnStar Launches Facebook Integration with “Responsible Connectivity” (Mashable)

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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