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Fleet telematics increasingly based on smartphone platforms

A third of commercial fleet telematics units will be based on consumer smartphone platforms by 2018


December 4, 2013
by Fleet Management staff

LONDON, UK—New technologies are making it possible for smaller fleets to use smartphones and cloud-based apps to enable telematics monitoring for their operations.

Most fleet operators are already using smartphones as service access devices to monitor their fleets remotely. Now commercial telematics service providers are increasingly adapting their core applications including track and trace/route planning, driver behavior and fuel management solutions to run on consumer-grade smartphone and tablet devices.

“With GPS and accelerometer functionality, plus the power and flexibility of a sophisticated computer, smartphones and tablets are already important platforms for telematics applications,” said Gareth Owen, principal analyst at ABI Research. “As sensors continue to develop, and new technologies such as voice and gesture recognition improve further, smartphone and tablet-based applications will become even more compelling for fleet telematics.”

Commercial telematics providers such as Telogis and XRS Corporation are becoming device-agnostic and are making their solutions available on consumer-grade smartphone and tablet devices as well as the typical ruggedized, customized mobile and tablet PC devices. Another trend is ruggedized mobile devices increasingly being based on smartphone operating systems such as Android, rather than Windows. For example, Zonar Technologies’s new 2020 remote terminal is based on a modified Android platform which gives fleet operators the flexibility to use applications from third-party providers as well as from Zonar. There are also an increasing number of specialist providers, such as GreenRoad, focused specifically on developing lower-cost Android and iOS-based telematics solutions for consumer-grade smartphone and tablet devices.

“Although there will always be a need for fixed terminals which cannot be switched off in certain specialized verticals, such as oil and gas or mining due to safety reasons, we see the trend towards using consumer-grade devices accelerating strongly in the future, particularly as truck OEMs are forced to open up their vehicles to third-party applications,” adds Owen.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Commercial Vehicle Telematics and Mobile OS, Browsers and Applications Research Services.