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Holden’s $50-a-month habit

Linked in: Holden Barina CDX's MyLink connection system will spread to other models, including the upcoming VF Commodore

User-pays mobile data system for VF Commodore could result in nasty bill for unwary

29 Nov 2012

HOLDEN’S next-generation Commodore is tipped to come with an internet connection costing users at least $50 a month.

The car-maker this week unveiled its MyLink system that turns a car’s seven-inch touchscreen into an internet-ready device that piggybacks off a smartphone’s data connection.

While it initially makes its debut in more expensive versions of the facelifted Barina small sedan and hatchback, Holden said it would eventually roll out into all upper-specification models in the showroom, including the redesigned VF Commodore large family car due mid-way through next year.

However, with the system burning through about 1.5GB of data in a worst-case scenario when a user listens to about 10 hours of internet radio a week, Holden will recommend users subscribe to a 2GB per month roaming data plan – which at the moment costs users about $50 a month depending on the provider.

Holden product planner for the MyLink program Jess Landsberger said the car-maker was already in talks with mobile phone companies to see if they can offer cheaper data plans to help car owners reduce the cost of being connected.

“We’re meeting with all the big telcos in Australia to see if they can reduce the costs of their data plans,” Ms Landsberger said.

“We’re seeing if we can do a deal just for MyLink owners. We’d be surprised if anyone has a [mobile data] cost blow-out because of MyLink.”

 center imageMyLink incorporates a suite of mobile phone-style applications that owners can choose from.

It is little more than a mirror of what appears on the smartphone, but users can manipulate the phone using the MyLink screen and a Bluetooth/USB connection.

At the moment, the apps are restricted to a selection of five music, podcast and navigation functions and MyLink will only work with an iPhone, but Ms Landsberger says more phones and apps will soon be added to the system.

However, owners will need to visit a factory-backed dealership to add more apps to the car’s system as they are approved by Holden.

The only app that car owners will soon need to pay for is BringGo, a smartphone-based navigation system that Holden hopes will cost MyLink owners a one-off cost of less than $100 when it is added.

However, if users tap into BringGo’s Google-based search function, it could cost, Ms Landsberger says.

Holden is also working with app providers to port the streaming data function to other makes of phones, with an announcement expected soon on music-playing service Pandora’s support for Android devices.

She said Holden has already encouraged podcast service Stitcher to add more Australian content to its primarily US-based database of content, meaning users should be able to find localised content when the service launches.

While the music and podcast apps, which include Pandora and Stitcher, are free to users, Ms Landsberger said the music and podcast systems will carry spoken-word advertising.

She said apps will be closely monitored before their release to ensure they do not push content to the in-car screen, which could then distract the driver’s eyes from the road ahead.

Surprisingly, the MyLink system comes with a standard analogue radio rather than a digital unit favoured by other car makers including Toyota.

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