Mobile, cloud will transform commercial fleet telematics, predicts ABI

Mobile and cloud-based technology will enable commercial fleet telematics to run on consumer smartphone platforms in the coming years, reducing the need for enterprises to buy expensive telematics hardware for their new trucks, predicts ABI Research.

Smartphones are already widely used by fleet operators to monitor fleets remotely. This is prompting commercial vehicle vendors, such as Telogis and XRS, to adapt their core applications, such as track and trace/route planning, behavior and fuel management, for consumer smartphone and tablet devices. In fact, ABI predicts that one in three commercial fleet telematics units shipped in 2018 will be based on consumer smartphone platforms.

"With GPS and accelerometer functionality, plus the power and flexibility of a sophisticated computer, smartphones and tablets are already important platforms for telematics applications. 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," comments Gareth Owen, ABI principal analyst.

In addition, ruggedized mobile devices for use in heavy industries are increasingly running on smartphones operating systems, such as Android, rather than PC operating systems, such as Windows.

One is example is Zonar's new 2020 remote terminal, which is based on a modified Android platform, giving fleet operators the ability to use apps from third party providers. There are also specialist providers that focus on developing lower-cost Android- and iOS-based telematics products for consumer mobile 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," observes Owen.

ABI also expects the cloud-based commercial fleet telematics market to take off over the next five years, with unit shipments reaching 16.8 million units by the end of 2018, up from 1.1 million units last year. For cloud-based fleet telematics applications, the data processing is performed in the cloud rather than by software and hardware in each vehicle.

For more:
- see ABI's release

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