LAS VEGAS--OnStar announced a new retail effort that dramatically broadens the company's addressable market. Instead of offering its service through a calling system built into General Motors vehicles, OnStar announced a rear-view mirror that provides many of the same services and can be installed into cars from other automotive manufacturers.
OnStar's new mirror, unveiled here at the Consumer Electronics Show and part of the company's OnStar Anywhere initiative, will be sold for $299 starting in the spring through Best Buy, and features 2G voice calling services running over Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) CDMA network. A range of service plans will be available, starting at $18.95 a month or $199 a year. The OnStar mirror offers services including automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, stolen vehicle location assistance, one-button access to emergency and roadside services and hands-free calling, including Bluetooth connectivity.
"This is a transformational move for our business," said Chris Preuss, OnStar's president.
Interestingly, OnStar's partnership with Verizon appears set to continue into the world of 4G. OnStar announced a number of prototype applications and services running over Verizon's new LTE network. Among the prototype services: home monitoring and control, electronic user's guide and video chat.
"While we haven't decided yet which of these demonstration features OnStar will offer or when, these prototype applications show just some of what's possible," Preuss said.
Separately, OnStar also announced it will test an application for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android smartphones that will rely on Bluetooth to allow drivers to send and receive text messages and Facebook updates using their voices. The company said a full launch is planned for later in the first half of this year through the Android Market, and pricing has yet to be determined. Preuss said OnStar likely will expand to additional smartphone platforms, including the iPhone, at some point in the future, but that the company is focusing first on Android.
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