CES: GM Wants To Turn Your Car Into 'A Smartphone Or A Tablet On Wheels'

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GM wants to turn your car into a tablet computer on wheels.

Katie Linendoll, ‘technology expert,’ kicks off the event (no snark intended with those quote-marks, this is how GM introduces Lindendoll). By 2015 global smartphone presentation will hit 51% and 78% in North America, according to Strategy Analytics. So, why not turn cars into really big smartphones, with dashboards that can tap into iPhone style apps?

Again, no snark: this really is GM’s master plan. Seriously.

Cadillac Global Marketing Director Jim Vurpillat takes the stage for a chat with Linendoll to offer some quotes. “Customers want things that are elegant, intuitive, and simple to use,” Virpillat says. Translation: they want an iPhone they can drive! “We focused on the interface directly because we felt that’s where the biggest game changer can be made… we think this interface sets up to be really the most intuitive and easy to use… simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Translation: we’re Steve Jobs fanboys, too!

So what is CUE? It’s based on Linux, the same open-source software running many servers. Cars last three to four to five years, Cue’s open, Linux-based architecture will let GM keep the CUE experience up to date. The software will make its debut in the Cadillac ATS, which was unveiled at the LA Auto show a few hours ago. Aimed at the BMW 3-series, CUE lets Cadillac chase upscale, tech-savvy customers who think their cars should work just like their iPHones

Next up: OnStar President Linda Marshall takes the stage to talk with Lindendoll. Marshall gives an overview of the service. At Onstar’s Core: OnStar uses mobile phone networks to help to drivers if they’re lost, if they crash, or if they have a medical emergency. Last year, a GM OnStar service advisor helped deliver a baby over the phone to a driver trapped in the mountains of Montana.

Great, so they’ve got the safety thing nailed. So what’s next for OnStar? An OnStar cloud platform called ‘ATOMS.’ Nick Pudar, vice president of planning and business development for OnStar takes the stage to offer some details. 250,000 customers already using one application, known as RemoteLink, that gives them access to OnStar-based capabilities — like the ability to unlock their car door — with their smartphone.

Pudar wants to open that platform up. During the first half of 2012, OnStar will make its application-programming interfaces available to developers. Third-party developers will get access to ATOM-based services, such as vehicle location, diagnostics, and remote capabilities and controls.

The first app: car-sharing startup RelayRides, which lets RelayRides users unlock a car they’re renting from a RelayRide user with their smartphone.

The goal: GM wants to turn your car into a “smartphone or a tablet on wheels,” Pudar says.

For more coverage of the 2012 Consumer Electronics show, see forbes.com/CES

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