GM announced two new services for OnStar this week, one that involves a partnership with MapQuest, and one for people who can't program a DVR. With the MapQuest partnership, called OnStar eNav, users will be able to find destinations on the MapQuest Web site, then push a button to have the destination sent to their cars. This service should come in handy for people planning vacations or needing complex routes, and signals OnStar's foray into the Web-enabled world. To use eNav, you will need a vehicle equipped with OnStar turn-by-turn navigation. The second service, OnStar Destination Download, requires you to have a vehicle with an LCD screen-based navigation system. Using this service, you can call an OnStar operator while you are on the road and request a destination. A button will appear on your navigation screen letting you download the destination, and you are good to go. There is definitely a convenience factor here, but we've never had much trouble programming in a destination using the navigation system's interface.
For our $64 million question, when will OnStar seriously get into the data business? Talking to operators is all fine and good, but given that OnStar provides wireless data connections into millions of cars, why aren't we seeing local search services through an on-screen interface? Why isn't OnStar providing traffic, weather, and gas price data? XM and Sirius are already busy eating that lunch.