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GM Exec Sees Ease Of Use As Key For New Mobile Devices
Friday March 12, 2:43 pm ET
By Bob Sechler, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES


AUSTIN, Texas (Dow Jones)--General Motors Corp. (NYSE:GM - News)'s three-button OnStar service offers a lesson for developers of new mobile applications and devices, GM Chief Technology Officer Tony Scott said Friday.

"It's very easy to use," Scott said, speaking during the Austin Mobility Roundtable technology conference in Austin, Texas. "That has to be a key."

OnStar, which links drivers to live information and assistance, also is tightly marketed around the concepts of safety and security.

Scott credited those elements - functional simplicity and a focused business strategy - with helping to achieve what he termed OnStar's "great success."

OnStar, operated as a wholly owned GM unit, has about 2.5 million subscribers, Scott said, and it has been adding about 4,500 a day.

Still, driver acceptance of the eight-year-old OnStar system began slowly, and it has gained steam only recently.

Scott attributed the trend primarily to a lack of familiarity with the system, both among drivers and GM car dealers. GM has worked to educate both, he said, and subscriber renewals have increased.

Vehicles equipped with OnStar generally come with a year of free service after which customers must pay for it. Costs vary depending on service levels.

Seperately, Intel Corp. (NasdaqNM:INTC - News) executive Stacy J. Smith said wireless systems increasingly will be the technologies of choice for hooking up new customers to the Internet.

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