Strategy Analytics: 22% of U.S. consumers would add connected car to shared data plan

Just 22 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to pay to add a connected car to their shared data plan, down from 28 percent in 2014, according to a survey conducted by research firm Strategy Analytics.

The report, while just one data point, highlights that carriers and car makers have a tough road ahead of them in convincing consumers to pay for connected car services. AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), for example, lets consumers add a connected car for $10 per month to its Mobile Share plans.

Meanwhile, the survey showed that 21 percent of U.S. consumers would be willing to pay extra when first buying a car to turn it into a Wi-Fi hotspot, down from 24 percent.

Those figures coincided with a spike in U.S. consumer support for getting in-vehicle connectivity for free in exchange for seeing advertising or sharing their data with third parties, according to Strategy Analytics analyst and report author Derek Viita. Around one-third of U.S. consumers surveyed supported those two options, with a "small percentage" willing to give their data to third parties in exchange for free in-vehicle connectivity, Viita said.

Overall, the survey found strong consumer interest in the ability to access the Internet and connected services while in the car. While interest is especially high for services that provide traffic updates, weather updates, open parking spaces and navigation instructions, interest in social media functionality remains low, the survey found.

The report surveyed consumers in the U.S., Western Europe and China regarding their interest in and preferred payment models for in-vehicle connectivity and connected services

Viita noted that interest in paying extra at purchase to make the car a Wi-Fi hotspot remains high, especially among 18-to-24-year-olds. Consumer interest in the mobile-share model has fallen in the U.S. and Europe.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Viita said U.S. consumers are "looking for something that works just good enough" to let them access in-vehicle connectivity. He said that if consumers could use existing mobile hotspot functionality on their smartphone for functions like traffic updates and finding parking, "that's what they're going to do."

Viita said automakers and carriers could look at some of the free models as ways to get access to customer data and granular in-car behavior, known as Human Media Interaction (HMI) data.  

Consumers are interested in these services and they want these services in the car, Viita said, but "the prospect of getting people to pay for it is still sort of iffy."

"OEMs and wireless providers must reconcile the very strong consumer interest in connected services with a payment model that consumers will agree to," Strategy Analytics analyst Chris Schreiner added in a statement. "While interest is healthy for many connectivity models involving one-time or regular payments, a large portion of consumers still favor free connectivity, and that portion appears to be slowly growing. This can only lead to an uphill battle for consumer acceptance of any payment model."

For more:
- see this release

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