Ford has unveiled details of two new mobility projects aimed at addressing the daily frustration of finding parking in a crowded city.
Together with mobile app valet service Cheyaoshi and smart parking developer Ding Ding, Ford is experimenting with real solutions to take the stress out of getting around.
“For millions of commuters in Asia Pacific, finding parking comes at the cost of wasted time and fuel,” said John Larsen, director, Ford Smart Mobility, Ford Asia Pacific. All this adds to longer commutes, worsening congestion and higher stress. Our mobile valet experiment with Cheyaoshi and our smart parking experiment with Ding Ding are a couple ways we are trying to find innovative solutions to help commuters.”
The need for better parking solutions is illustrated by a recent survey conducted on behalf of Ford across Asia Pacific. More than one in five survey respondents said their commute is the worst part of their day, on top of 34 percent who simply find it inconvenient – and for a third of respondents, it is getting worse. For more than 18 percent of respondents across the region, finding parking is the primary reason for a worsening commute. This makes it a prime target for Ford, which is investing in smart mobility experiments across the region as it works to once again change the way that people move.
The problem is particularly acute in China, where nearly one-quarter of survey respondents blamed parking difficulties for a worsening commute. But China’s eagerness to adopt new technologies – more than 48 percent see advanced technologies like autonomous features and real-time traffic information as potential congestion cures – also makes it an ideal market for the parking experiments.
“The work we’ve been doing with Cheyaoshi and Ding Ding helps relieve some of the pain of parking today and also helps us determine the approaches that are most effective for commuters,” said Julius Marchwicki, director, Connected Vehicles and Services, Ford Asia Pacific. “These kinds of experiments deepen our understanding of what commuters want and need, and enable us to serve them more effectively as a mobility company.”
At Ford’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Shanghai’s bustling Lujiazui financial district, four out of ten employees said in an internal survey that they spend an extra 10 to 20 minutes every day finding parking near the office. Together with Cheyaoshi, Ford found cheaper, available parking about a kilometer from the Ford office, and launched a valet program to make parking more convenient.
Participants used the app to have a valet meet them at the Ford office in the morning; the valet then parked the car, where it waited safely until the user summoned it using the app. At the end of the day, employees could then either have the car delivered to the office, or anywhere within a 2.5-kilometer radius.
Another partnership – the Ford and Ding Ding Parking Space Lock experiment – approaches the problem of urban parking through the sharing economy. Vehicle owners can use SYNC, Ford’s leading voice controlled infotainment system, to activate and deactivate a physical parking space lock on one of tens of thousands of parking spaces on Ding Ding’s platform, granting users exclusive use of conveniently located parking spaces. Once a driver has locked a parking space, they can also use the app to rent it out to other drivers for a share of parking fees, or authorize family and friends to use it for free. All functions are activated through SYNC giving users convenient hands-free control of Ding Ding’s functions. In addition, drivers of Ford vehicles can reserve exclusive VIP spaces on Ding Ding’s platform using SYNC, including in busy areas.
Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data
A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs
The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom.
The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.
“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.
ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period.
The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively. On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149.
Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).
“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.
The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).
Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.
The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).
For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.
Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in
A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK
Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.
Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.
Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.
Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.
“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”
The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.
Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.
Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”
Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.