Google and Apple have focused on the development of connected car platforms for no less than four years. However, automakers are currently rather passive in adopting their platforms, using the platforms of both at the same time or that of either Apple or Google only in a small number of their cars.
According to industry sources, this is because the tug of war between the smartphone platform companies and the automakers is continuing amid the emergence of the Amazon Alexa, Tesla’s counterattack, opposition to the spending of money, the era of 5G that is around the corner, etc.
The connected car platform market was opened in September 2005, when Apple incorporated the iPod into the stereo systems of cars. Although 15 automakers showed their interest in the project at that time, it showed little progress until Apple unveiled the Carplay in 2014. That year, Google also unveiled its Android Auto for in-vehicle infotainment system control based on Android phones. At present, a number of carmakers are using the connected car platforms of Apple and Google. Last year, the two companies added new features to and improved the platforms in order to increase their presence in the market. For instance, the Google Assistant for smartphone-based direct control and voice recognition was added to the Android Auto last year.
However, both Google and Apple bumped into the wall as the Amazon Alexa, a sensation in the global smart speaker market, entered the connected car platform market. Last year, Ford adopted the Amazon Alexa so that their cars can be started and heated based on voice recognition and Starbucks coffees can be ordered in their cars. BMW and Mini are planning to follow suit this year, too. Unlike the platforms of Google and Apple, the Amazon Alexa allows terminals of competitors to be integrated without center console coding and, as such, it can be very attractive to automakers wishing to lead the development of a connected car system. At present, the number of partners using the Alexa is much smaller than the number of companies working with Apple or Google. However, the gap is likely to be narrowed in the near future as a number of carmakers are positive about the Alexa.
Automakers’ preference for the center console design of Tesla is another obstacle for Apple and Google. The center consoles of Tesla vehicles have a screen size of 12 inches to 17 inches and Tesla customers can control almost all vehicle and driving information on the screen.
Yet another obstacle is that the adoption of their platforms leads to the incurrence of authorization and testing costs. Both Apple and Google require hardware and software certification and tests for Carplay and Android Auto and this process results in significant costs.
In addition, automakers are reluctant to let mobile platform developers lead connected car services. Google and Apple are trying to provide various services via their connected car platforms and expand their service ecosystems to the automobile industry. Carmakers, in the meantime, are wishing to make money by controlling the services themselves.
Furthermore, a variety of services and techniques are expected to be integrated once the use of 5G networks begins in earnest. According to some industry experts, the connected car platforms of Apple and Google might not be capable of accepting it well and Android Auto and Carplay might not be enough to realize inter-device networks and the Internet of Everything (IoE) based on various Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.