Waze can be a discreet application for some, which passes without pain or glory especially if you do not usually drive, but the reality is quite different. The service is used globally by tens of millions of people, and little by little they are integrated into the life of each driver.
Their most recent step has been to join the Smart Device Link Consortium , which allows them to integrate their interface into the screens of the same cars for greater security. Taking advantage of the Mobile World Congress celebration, we had the opportunity to talk to your in-car Application Product Manager, Jens Baron.
Initiated by Ford via free code and allied with six other brands, the Smart Device Link Consortium sets out a common platform to bring the mobile interfaces of the applications that join to the screens of the cars. In the case of Waze, as it is an application that gives information in real time without stopping, we have the advantage of being able to look at it more comfortably and with a bigger screen that distracts us less.
Ford already has five million cars with that platform in operation and hopes to expand that figure to 28 million users by 2020 . And here we are talking about Ford: every brand has its own expectations of adoption. But look at what they have to say in Waze on the subject.
2.6 million unique monthly users only in Mexico City
Xataka Mobile: Tell us a little about what it means to join this SDL Consortium. Do you have some usage figures regarding Waze?
Jens Baron: The idea is that all the information that real-time users of Waze can display directly on the screen that integrate the cars in their consoles.
Waze has today the largest community of drivers in the world with 75 million active monthly users. The Latin American market, along with the rest of America, is very important for us, cities like the capital of Mexico are huge and give us a lot of opportunity to grow. Only in Mexico City do we have 2.6 million unique users per month, Bogotá has almost one million monthly unique users ... they are huge places where we are doing well to optimize traffic.
Xataka Mobile: Anything new about Waze Carpool ?
Jens Baron: At the moment it is a service that we have launched in Israel and we intend to launch in Silicon Valley this year, from San Francisco going through all the cities of go down by the bay. All Waze users can use it, just encourage them to accept passengers using the application for it.
Xataka Mobile: Uber, Lyft, BlaBlaCar ... Who do you consider competition?
Jens Baron: For Waze Carpool we do not consider Uber or Lyft too much as competition, because drivers working at Waze Carpool are not professional drivers. We only act as intermediaries for two or more people to save a car, rather like BlaBlaCar.
Xataka Mobile: Returning to the SDL consortium, are you going to start with some specific car models?
Jens Baron: We do not have any specific model to advertise right now, but over time all the models that are renewing will integrate Waze. The idea is to integrate all possible cars.
Xataka Mobile: Does the Waze application run from the car itself or is it linked to the mobile phone?
Jens Baron: It depends on the smartphone, but you can check everything from the screen so you do not have to pick it up while driving.
Xataka Mobile: What does Waze gain in return, apart from users? Will you use the data of the cars for something?
Jens Baron: The main objective of this consortium is mainly to improve the driving experience for users. As for the data, thanks to this consortium we will simply have more. Not in terms of more user data, but traffic data that we have collected since our beginnings in real time but many more sites.
Xataka Mobile: How do you see the evolution of Waze as autonomous driving progresses?
Jens Baron: We see for example autonomous cars that can be shared among several people in a much more efficient way. Instead of six cars going to school to pick up several children, those same kids can use the same car that comes and goes. Anyway this we see it in the long term, driving as a service is something that will take time to arrive. Waze Carpool, however, can be our first step there.
Xataka Mobile: How do you see the rumors of Apple or Google cars? Do you see a world in which the technological ones compete with the "traditional" manufacturers of mobiles?