Cadillac has announced the availability of an in-car wireless internet option on its CTS sport sedan beginning in April in the US. The new option will be called Cadillac WiFi (sic) by Autonet which will be dealer-installed.
The new Cadillac WiFi by Autonet Mobile can be transported to different cars.
The Autonet device connects to the internet over the 3G mobile phone network — or 2.5G if absolutely necessary — and acts as a Wi-Fi router to any wireless devices, such as smartphones and notebooks, in the car. Autonet Mobile says early market experience indicates that this option will appeal to families first, as opposed to the mobile business professional you probably think would be its main initial market. The device will have a retail price of US$499, and the service will cost either US$29 or US$59 per month — the former including 1GB of data, the latter 5GB.
We've seen this Autonet device before, although the latest model is smaller, dockable and sports an internal Wi-Fi antenna. A company called Waav offers a similar rig, but what's interesting about the Cadillac-Autonet deal is that a top-tier carmaker is putting its imprimatur on general-purpose in-car internet connectivity.
Of course, the big competitive threat is that we all just decide to get in the car with our iPhones or netbooks with integrated 3G wireless connections, and skip mobile routers altogether. Companies in the emerging in-car internet space will soon need to bring more to the party than just Wi-Fi and some 3G network massaging; they'll need to bundle and optimise services for in-car use, as well as develop car-specific interfaces, and deliver both in a way that speaks to two major use cases: driver and passenger.
That said, it's heartening to see an internet option make its way to the showrooms of global auto brands. Shame then that Holden's planned relaunch of Cadillac has been put on ice and that Australia has yet to see BMW's in-car internet service.