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Volkswagen picks miRoamer

Done deal: German car-making giant will use Melbourne company Connexion Media's miRoamer internet radio application in some of its future models.

Melbourne software developer adds German giant Volkswagen to its GM contract

5 Nov 2014

VOLKSWAGEN has approved the use of Melbourne-based technology company Connexion Media’s miRoamer internet radio application with the German brand's Mirrorlink infotainment system.

Every Volkswagen model fitted with Mirrorlink will be able to use miRoamer when the driver connects a smartphone to the car via a cable.

The deal means miRoamer will now be available in vehicles produced by two of the world’s three largest automotive manufacturers, Volkswagen and General Motors.

Mirrorlink is already available in a number of VW models, including the Polo, new-generation Passat sedan and Estate, Beetle and Beetle Cabriolet with more models expected to feature the connectivity tech in 2015.

Connexion Media chief executive George Parthimos told GoAuto the VW deal is an example of the 'Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)' approach to the connected vehicle.

“This is a BYOD play, where car-makers are going to have apps that are certified by the car-makers that link to their vehicles,” he said after announcing the VW deal.

“The second method is the embedded approach, where the SIM card is built into the car. Auto-makers are going down both paths, but BYOD is by far the more prevalent one today.”

miRoamer is one of only two internet radio platforms that GM will use and while the deal with the US car-making giant uses the embedded approach, Mr Parthimos said GM was also exploring the BYOD approach.

“The trend is that entry level and mid-level vehicles are typically BYOD and it’s the high-end vehicles that are embedded because they obviously have a higher price point, higher margins and the car-makers put more technology into them.

“But, over time, we will see that gradually filter down the model range as we see with other technologies.”

Mr Parthimos said Connexion Media made money through miRoamer by placing “pre-roll” audio advertisements into the radio stream.

“With pre-roll, before the app starts it will pop in an advertisement.

“If you jump into your car and push BBC Radio1, before it plays that station it will say ‘Brought to you by (say) McDonalds Dandenong, come and get a coffee’.”

As it is a location-based system it will play an advertisement for a business in a particular area based on the location of the car.

Mr Parthimos said another advertising revenue stream will be available through a function in miRoamer that monitors the car’s own vital functions.

“For example, we’ll know whether the next service is due for the car or what the oil pressure or tyre pressures are like, so we’ll be able to provide that information to advertisers to be able to target more effectively the drivers themselves.”

This could appeal particularly to dealerships wanting to retain the service business with a new car buyer. To preserve privacy, drivers will be able to opt out of this monitoring function.

“We see that as the value proposition. So the customer will be getting a radio and music service, no fee, no charge, and we’ll provide a distribution point for content partners and content providers who are obviously looking for audience.

“We monetise miRoamer’s presence in the vehicle by providing pre-roll audio advertising and data analytics.”

The VW Mirrorlink infotainment system provides a simple cable connection between the driver’s smartphone and the infotainment system. Using the phone’s SIM card, the miRoamer internet radio platform can stream any online radio station from anywhere in the world.

When connected to Mirrorlink, the miRoamer app can be controlled through the car’s navigation screen and dashboard buttons.

The VW deal completes a long relationship between miRoamer and the massive German group.

Audi was set to launch miRoamer in its vehicles in 2008, but the Global Financial Crisis intervened and the project was put on ice.

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