Mobile Networking A Potential Windfall for the Custom Retailer
By Brett Solomon
The mobile electronics landscape has brought us such innovations as navigation, mobile video, satellite radio and vehicle tracking. But one area seemingly lacking in the vehicular environment is mobile networking. After all, if we can install a network in our house, why not install one in the car? Why not have all of the electronics in a vehicle communicate with one another, to make life easier for the end-user, and send the "cool" factor skyrocketing?
Telematics has been the industry buzzword for the past few years; it describes the ability to send information to (and from) the vehicle. However, mobile networking is often confused with telematics. Mobile networking is the ability of information and entertainment systems within a vehicle to communicate with one another. Certainly, telematics can be a integral part of the mobile network, but you need more than a communication link to the outside world to establish that network.
The horsepower needed to operate a network within the small confines of a vehicle necessitates some type of computer. It may or may not be a traditional computer, but you'll need some type of on-board processor to orchestrate the network. One benefit to the consumer is lower product costs, because less equipment needs to be purchased by him/her. For example, why purchase a separate video-switcher when the computer can handle the task? However, the labor costs for installing a mobile network can escalate quickly, as only highly trained installers will be able to pull off a full-blown mobile networking installation.
THE NETWORK MASTERS
Mobile networking is one of the most demanding installation procedures that can be performed on a vehicle. Chalk this up to a lack of products that are able to integrate disparate product categories, like navigation, cellular, video and audio. Still, this category can be a great selling point to differentiate your store from a competitor's. To have different products work well together — without the end user crashing into a tree because of driver distraction, without taking up precious golf club storage in the trunk and without interfering with the vehicle's own electrical systems — can be a daunting task. Installers have to be creative, and a battle plan must be developed before your outlet can try and attempt an installation that links all of the facets of the mobile electronics landscape into one vehicle.