Trends on Tuesday: The Next Revolution Is Here—Cars Are the New Mobile Devices

Last week, Recode published an article focused on a recent report from industry consultant Chetan Sharma that found the largest number of new mobile activations in the first quarter of 2016 came from a ‘different’ kind of mobile tool—cars.

Self-driving car concept

There are still a lot of phone and tablet mobile activations happening—31% and 23% of all activations, respectively—but for the first time, cars edged out the smaller mobile devices with 32% of new cellular activations.

That growth is going to expand exponentially: we’re reaching mobile phone saturation, tablet growth has remained flat in recent years, and we’ve only just begun the connected car revolution.

With a software update automatically downloaded to their cars since late 2014, Tesla created the first fleet of self-driving vehicles (not fully autonomous, yet) live and on the road. Since then they’ve logged more than 780 million miles of data, adding another million miles every 10 hours.

Testing the Tesla autopilot (self driving mode), October 17, 2015.

Tesla isn’t the only company advancing the connected car revolution. Lyft and GM have a partnership and will soon start rolling out a rental service that will eventually offer autonomous vehicles. Ford has a whole division working on autonomous vehicles, too. Uber has been rumored to have already put in the first order for 100,000 autonomous Mercedes.

Last week it was also reported that Google (also known as its parent company, Alphabet) is going to sell off a bunch of robotics companies it had been collecting in the past couple years (including Boston Dynamics) to Toyota, who has already hired away some of the robotic human talent from Google. (Yes, Boston Dynamics is the one that makes that weird “Big Dog” robot.)

In the past year, self-driving and autonomous cars have become a reality on our roads and soon will become much more commonplace as many of the top manufacturer and ride-sharing services are all racing towards a future of connected cars.

In preparing for this new mobile revolution, we should consider and start planning for the browser and app experiences people will expect from government services in those vehicles, as well as the mobile moments that people will have with their newfound extra time during their self-driven car commutes. This future will be here before we know it.