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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Saab iQon connectivity system introduction and comments

There is another video from the Geneva Motor Show 2011 done by the almigthy SaabsUnited about the new Saab introduction of the iQon system in a form of an interview with Christopher McKinnon from Saab automobiles.

Although this is "only" a laptop presentation but sitting in the new Saab 9-3 Independence Edition, the informations are new and valuable. It is a walkthrough of the indroductory video from my previous post (2nd video) and a more deeper explanation of the concept, of what the developers of the system intend to do and what we can expect.

I'd like to sum up the highlights and comment a bit :

  • Saab is aiming at a system (Google Android based) which updates itself continuously, the operating system as well as the applications

please allow users a voluntary update, some of them are conservative or satisfied with the current versions and as we've seen many times in the past, not all software updates are increasing quality

the use of Android is a bit disputable and risky because of the fragmentation of the whole system but what else ? Apple would require immense money, RIM and W7 are behind, Symbian is bad and dying. So it appears the only logical choice. 

a nice map of global mobile OS marketshare for February 2011 can be found here

  • it will be high resolution full color 8" capacitor touchscreen and the intention is to replace as many buttons as possible from the dashboard

as many readers point out, there are some buttons and other parts of the dashboard, which are often used without looking at them. We all know, where our button for radio or A/C is. Please don't kill 'em all. On the other hand I am using Saab Infotainment System with touchscreen - this one - and it is ok. But Saab please keep the balance between screen and buttons.

btw. a nice description what a capacitor touchscreen is can be found here

  • there will be an iQon store with applications ready for download

ffree or payed apps ? I assume both, but hopely Saab doesn't want to switch to a software house for car Android apps :)

  • update of the maps in the GPS navigation system, as Saab has currently issues in Eastern Europe and certain places in Asia.

YES !!! I am one of the affected drivers in Eastern Europe (we call it Central Europe :) ). This will definitely not be for free, but hopely it will not costs as much as the DVD. And of course maps need to be updated everywhere.

  • Saab intends to sell the system with a one-time internet subscription fee, so the customer does not has to have another Internet account or whatever.

This looks to be simillar to Kindle 3G and that would be great. Open question remains about the roaming charges as this system can be very data intensive. And there must be a fast connectivity anyway as for example update of maps can be tenths or hundreds of megabytes of data

  • there will be a customer information channel about offers, discounts and other things

Fine but please not too much of this. Everybody is overflowed with informations. 

  • there will be a streaming music functionality. Saab is currently working with Spotify and Pandora to enable this

Dear Saab, Spotify works in 7 european countries and Pandora is U.S. only. We love you, we are patient and understand that these are the big markets for you (btw. where is China and Russia ?) but for all us in the rest of the planet, would it be possible to not forget us ? That means allowing to install alternative applications like mp3 players with streaming functionality, browsers etc.

  • iQon will include remote diagnostics of the vehicle and very carefully indicated that it may be possible to upgrade also other software parts of the car, for example ECU
ECU software upgrade through the Net ? OK. To be honest, this is hard to believe at the moment. But as a vision (or joke) it's fine :) 

It's a great concept and at the start now. I can imagine, there are zillions of issues to solve and with very powerful companies to speak. The future Saab is showing here is astounding. Looking forward to what is coming :) Cross fingers !

The video :

Many thanks to SaabsUnited for the work done. This is very useful.

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