LAS VEGAS — Seattle’s startup community was well-represented on stage today at the AT&T Developer Summit by Bryan Trussel, the CEO of Glympse, the location-sharing technology startup based in the South Lake Union neighborhood.
After taking part in the announcement of the rebranded AT&T Drive initiative, Trussel spoke with GeekWire about Glympse’s push into the automotive world — providing an insider’s take on the challenges and opportunities of making apps for the emerging breed of connected cars. Continue reading for edited excerpts from our conversation.
Q: What’s the status of Glympse in cars?
Trussel: We’ve got Mercedes, BMW, Ford, we announced GM last night, we announced Jaguar Land Rover this morning, and we’ll announce another partner tomorrow. So we’ve got a pretty good sweep, and then a few more on the slate. Our goal is to be the de facto, ubiquitous location-sharing technology. We’re close now.
Trussel: This is the problem. It’s different with every manufacturer. What’s exciting about last night, with GM, is that they’re the first to have an always-on, connected car. You can have the phone but you don’t need it. With all the other ones, the phone is your transport layer. It sounds subtle, but there’s a big difference between whipping a phone out of your pocket, opening an app, and doing things to get it to go out, vs. having it right there on the dash just like changing a radio station. There’s an order of magnitude usage difference between those two implementations. This connected car is a big deal for us.
We’ve had to customize every single partnership that we’ve done so far, because they all have a different architecture and a different protocol and a different UI. What we’re starting to see is this ‘platformization’ — common APIs, common frameworks. It’s been relatively difficult with each partner, and I think what you’ll start to see is a little more in terms of standard interfaces.
Q: Who becomes the platform provider? We’re here at the AT&T event. Is it the wireless companies?
Trussel: AT&T is solidifying their stuff into a common platform and connection. General Motors is doing that. Ford is doing that. It’s not quite clear how all those guys are going to play together. But now for the first time, you can assume connectivity. For the first time, you can do a billing arrangement now, so you can charge dynamically as an app developer in the connected car. These pieces have come together, piece by piece. You’ll cobble together a little bit from the car manufacturer, a little bit from the carrier, and then have a car solution.
Q: What advice would you give to a startup that’s just getting into this and wanting to get their app into cars?
Trussel: Don’t do it unless you have an app that really shows off in the car, then it’s not worth it. But for us, we always knew that this is a great scenario. So if you’re in that situation, and you have the bandwidth to do custom relationships, a custom implementation, I think it’s great to get in there early.