BEIRUT: Connected car company Vinli, is currently doing market trials in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, as part of the growing regional trend in smart, Internet-connected cars.
"Vinli has been in market trials now with one of two carriers in Lebanon and we are excited to say they have been very successful," The Texan company told Annahar in an emailed statement.
"We will be making a public announcement soon. We are also in advanced discussions with multiple car dealerships, and we are teaming up with Anghami (the music provider) to deliver a seamless in-car music experience to Vinli users."
The company would not reveal further deals regarding who the test carriers were or the likely dealerships to feature this new technology.
Starting at $199.99, you can transform your car into a 4G LTE rolling hotspot, with Vinli's retrofitting device which plugs in the car's onboard diagnostic board (OBD) port, providing online access to the car.
The Dallas-based company is offering what it said is "the most advanced cloud-connected-car system in the Middle East in partnership with VIVA Bahrain." The marketing push in collaboration with Viva is part the growing competition over market share in the big-time business to connect the world's one billion vehicles.
According to Vinli, its expansion into the Middle East is driven by growing car usage, vehicle sales and the rising GDP across the region. This is further spurred by the increasing rise in customer demand for car connectivity as a result of mobile usage.
"We're thrilled to bring Vinli to the Middle East as we roll out our international expansion for 2016," said Vinli's COO Derek Chapin at the huge annual Mobile World Congress taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain. "Bahrain is the first of many more countries to come for Vinli. We're focused this year on meeting the incredible demand for connected vehicle services around the world. VIVA Bahrain is exactly the kind of innovative partner we seek as we continue our global expansion."
Andrew Hanna, VIVA Bahrain, Chief Commercial Officer added: "(The) Internet of Things is progressing towards impacting everything .....it will transform the economy, society and the way that we live. With this increasing digitalization, we will be focusing on Cloud computing services across our retail offerings."
"This cloud-based connected car solution offered through our collaboration with Vinli, is the first of many innovative services being introduced. It will deliver a connected-life offering to our customers on our fast 4G network which can extend beyond the home or the office and into the car."
In a release from Vinli, the company said that breaking into new regions -- including the Middle East -- represents a large growth opportunity for the entire connected-car industry, "including car makers, telecom providers, and software companies."
The company said that its connected-car platform provides a mobile WiFi hotspot and a comprehensive App Store that enables consumers to customize their driving experience with information and features they want.
"We believe Vinli will change how people interact with their cars on a day-to-day basis by making cars smarter, safer and more enjoyable," said Mark Haidar, CEO of Vinli.
The company said its open developer smart-car platform continues to expand with more than 2,000 partners and developers globally that are integrating with Vinli's cloud platform and app marketplace.
There are a variety of competitors to the Vinli, including Verizon's Hum, Samsung's Connect Auto, and AT&T's ZTE Mobley and Verizon's Wireless Delphi Connect, which are all similar to the Vinli dongle, including that these devices link the cars OBD port.
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