There is no doubt information on where the car is and what it's being used for would help companies sell products and services to an autonomous car's occupants. There are also multiple opportunities to deliver advertising to everyone in the vehicle. Warburton, however, struggles to understand what unique information automakers have to offer via the car that isn't already available on a person's mobile phone. Google and Apple know where you are, where you are going, who you are in touch with, what the weather and road conditions are like and what you just looked at or bought.
Warburton also points out that a mobile phone provides all this data every day, while a person spends only about 5 percent of each day in the car.
Therefore, there is no "looming battle" between Google and automakers for control of the relationship with the consumer, and the risk of "letting Google in" is unfounded, Warburton believes. "This is silly. It's not just that Google has won the battle. There was never a battle in the first place," Warburton notes in his report.
An interesting question is: Why do automakers have such high hopes they will be able to sell such a small amount of data for such a big price? Warburton blames the consultants marching into automakers' boardrooms to warn executives their companies' futures are at risk because of the forthcoming disruption. They tell the executives the data in their cars could provide them with a "$1 trillion opportunity," Warburton said.
Several automakers believe this is true while others are more realistic. For instance, earlier this year Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said: "Talk to consultants and they tell you the most valuable thing you have is data. We then go to Google and ask them what they'll pay for it — and they say we've already got it. You've got to be very careful before building economic models around this."
Warburton and I could not agree more.