AT&T working with connected car partners on exclusive content, games

AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) plans to release exclusive content, including videos and games, that can be streamed onto smartphones and tablets inside connected cars later this year, according to an AT&T executive.

"It's no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle," Chris Penrose, AT&T's senior vice president of emerging devices, told Reuters.

AT&T has been discussing with its car maker partners and with content companies about the possibility of delivering "special" shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This content would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Reuters reported. Penrose said AT&T also aims to offer larger data buckets to those users.

AT&T has connected car deals with Audi, BMW, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Nissan, Subaru, Tesla and Volvo. AT&T activated 800,000 connected cars on its network in the fourth quarter of 2014 and another 684,000 in the first quarter of 2015. The carrier expects to have at least 50 percent market share of new connected cars in 2015.

Interestingly, Penrose said AT&T is exploring various business models with automakers that include revenue sharing for data consumption, content and advertising with automakers, content companies and retail partners.

Penrose intimated in comments to FierceWireless in July 2014 that the carrier envisioned car makers sponsoring the data for in-car LTE connectivity as part of AT&T's Sponsored Data program. Sponsored data plans give customers free access or zero-rated data for certain services that the providing companies subsidize.

According to the Reuters report, AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and purchase data. "A lot of (content and offers) can be targeted to the make and models of the vehicles," Penrose said. "(AT&T's auto partners) have got a lot demographic information knowing who's buying what type of vehicle, which type of content that is going to be most relevant."

GM has begun testing new subscription-based content on its OnStar service, Reuters notes. The company offers some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, which is aimed at families and children, as well as TumblebooksTV, a children's digital books app.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

Slideshow: AT&T's Drive Studio lets the carrier test the connected cars of the future

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AT&T will focus on use cases to market connected cars, smart homes and digital lifestyle'
AT&T still 'very bullish' on Sponsored Data despite just 10 customers so far
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