Articles, Car-Electronics, Connectivity & Telematics, Smart Mobility

Do Cars Need Their Own Operating System?

Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are slowly taking over the in-car experience. They have continued to proliferate as consumers seek connectivity features that sync up and mirror the functionality of their phones. But is this good for the industry? Should automakers be worried about an Apple or Google takeover? “I think from the car company perspective it’s much better if they don’t relinquish [the operating system],” said Annie Lien, independent consultant advisor in autonomous cars. “It’s much better if they can keep control and do their own proprietary operating system. Then they can charge less than when they have to partner with someone like Apple or Google since they would be working on some proprietary aspect of that.”

It’s not just about the money, however. Automakers also want to maintain control of their branding. “That’s so important and that’s what distinguishes from one company to another,” said Lien. “It would be much more beneficial for them to keep as much control and have more proprietary IP. Then they can dictate their own branding.” The consumer perspective is vastly different. “I think it would be better for users if the car companies relinquish this control and would be willing to allow Apple or Google to do all the work,” Lien added. “Or at least 90%. I think if they were to do this, [Apple/Google] would do a really good job.”

Lien believes that if Apple or Google were to lead the in-car experience, automakers could benefit from a simplified supply chain, less give and take among decision makers, and a better overall solution for consumers. “The fewer decision makers you have to deal with in a partnership, the more likely you are to have a simpler design,” she said. “For example, if you have a partnership where the car company wants a lot of control and Apple wants a lot of control, you will have a lot more back and forth. There’s going to be more disagreements.”

Grayson Brulte, co-founder and president of Brulte & Company, a consulting firm that specializes in designing innovation and technology strategies, concurred with the assessment that CarPlay and Android Auto are better for consumers. But he is also looking to the future, pointing out that when vehicles are autonomous, the in-car experience will be significantly different. “When you remove the steering wheel and pedals and the human has no way to take over that vehicle, the opportunities become endless,” said Brulte, who also serves as the co-chair of the Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force in Beverly Hills, California. “You will have an app store for vehicles for in-car entertainment, and developers will be able to create wonderful experiences. There’s going to be applications that will come into the vehicle that will change that car experience, something we never would have thought about.”
This might not be limited to dashboard visuals. Earlier this year it was revealed that Apple had filed a patent for an augmented reality windshield. This could provide a host of benefits to drivers – and in the long run, passengers of autonomous vehicles.

Of course, if automakers wish to use this technology, they will have to continue partnering with outsiders. This will ensure that CarPlay and Android Auto integration will continue for many years to come.

About the author:

Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.