Verizon is testing a car sharing app service called Verizon Auto Share that will let users search for the nearest available car in the program and then let them reserve it and use their phones to unlock and start the car. The program will be available at the end of 2014.
It’s very similar to car2go, a service owned by Daimler that does the same thing. But as cool as it would be to ditch your car and then rely on the serendipity of having a vehicle nearby work at the touch of your phone, why is [company]Verizon[/company] getting into this market? My bet is that the carrier recognizes that control of the overall experience will matter when it comes to connected devices and that it can charge a premium because it will have access to the cloud, the network (on the car’s side) and the app.
In some cases it will have control of the handset as well. This allows Verizon to guarantee levels of service and reliability that others may not be able to do and also allows Verizon to take a cut of the revenue by providing the service as opposed to merely the networking side of it.
That’s somewhat of a gamble because competing services — be they for consumers or for corporate clients like rental car companies or big companies operating large fleets — might question Verizon’s commitment to providing them the best networking capabilities. However, Verizon doesn’t want to become a dumb pipe when it comes to the internet of things, and it has assembled many of the assets it needs to avoid that. As we connect more devices to the internet, there is an advantage in going beyond the “best effort” mentality of the internet and trying to create better guarantees.
Of course, in the past (and even today), the carriers have done everything they can to create barriers to innovation, from charging companies to get into their app stores (remember how they tried to make app stores happen) and acting as gatekeepers for access to their networks and end customers. Given the speed at which we’re adding connected devices and services, it’s unclear if carriers have learned their lesson or if they are just hoping that a rising tide can lift all boats for a while.
With Verizon’s new car sharing app, we’ll get a chance to see.