Google, Apple and our Cars
Car companies want to keep (or really hog) their customers all to themselves. Additionally, they want to monitor the dashboard experience, and have typically frowned upon aftermarket devices and aftermarket software jumping into the pool. Although Audi was one of the first car companies to join the Open Automotive Alliance at last year’s CES, German car manufacturers and politicians seem to be concerned that large technology companies like Google pose a potential threat the German auto industry.
Although Apple’s CarPlay has hit the streets (albeit in a limited way), there has been a lag in seeing Android Auto on the dashboards of BMW and Mercedes. Car manufacturers are eager to lead the development of the connected car. If they do not, they may have the same fate as mobile phone manufacturers, and become minor partners of Google. According to a story in Bloomberg, Audi’s own connectivity and CES superstar, Rupert Stadler, noted, “The data that we collect is our data and not Google’s data.” This also mirrors comments from Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn and Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche: “When it gets close to our operating system, it’s hands off.”
So savvy members of the 12-volt aftermarket may just find opportunities. After all, we are the original preachers and practitioners of dashboard democracy. When an OEM states we cannot get into their systems, we figure out a way to ‘hack’ onboard their BUS network (in a good way), although it may take a few years of reverse engineering before we work out the bugs. So, when a customer walks into one of our shops with an Android phone and they want a seamless experience in a new TTS, we will do our best to provide it – in a way that ultimately protects their data from the prying eyes of the automobile manufacturer. But perhaps not Google, who is looking at how the end user is using their software through their smartphone software…