Sprint Nextel Corp. is hoping to attract younger, more connected consumers with its recently unveiled in-vehicle communications and entertainment system for automakers. Sprint Velocity enables drivers to get connected to their vehicles through Bluetooth in their mobile phones. This permits access to a variety of applications such as voice-activated texting and email, navigation, news and sports updates and music. Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 mobile carrier in the U.S., boasts that Sprint Velocity will be better than the products that automakers developed on their own. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Wayne Ward, Sprint's vice president of emerging solutions, said that automakers “make great cars” but then they’re not in the communications business.
The Uconnect system that Chrysler Group LLC uses on the new Ram 1500 pickup truck and SRT Viper is powered by Sprint Velocity. The pricing for the system hasn’t been announced yet but Uconnect packages on the truck have a price range of $465 - $970, depending on the screen size. In a survey that IBM has yet to release, about 45% of car buyers said that navigation systems that aid drivers to evade traffic are crucial to their purchase decisions, while 35% consider important the car's ability to respond to voice commands.
Meanwhile, 30% said that entertainment systems were very important, specifically for buyers who are aged 18 and 29. So far, similar products from Ford, General Motors and other automakers have been heavily criticized. After glitches were found in the MyFord Touch system, Ford’s ranking in Consumer Reports's annual survey of reliability suffered. GM's new CUE system for its Cadillac lineup was described by the magazine to be “convoluted and frustrating."