5 Reasons OEMs Shouldn’t Adopt Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
With all the recent buzz in the press about Apple CarPlay and Android Auto it is easy to think that every automotive OEM should adopt these technologies as soon as possible. This might make sense from the consumer’s point of view, but there are several reasons why this might not be the best idea for OEMs that wish to remain relevant and in control of their vehicle experiences.
1. Google and Apple Don’t Have Your Best Interests At Heart
Google and Apple are companies with shareholders, and neither is in the business of building products for charity. Both companies are focused on winning the mobile market today, and winning the broader consumer software market tomorrow. In the car this means that Google and Apple want their brand to be front and center in the head unit. And in five to ten years when self-driving cars become available to consumers, “drivers” will care more about the on-the-road experience and less about actual driving. Seeing this coming, Google and Apple are positioning themselves to completely take over the in-car experience in the near future.
2. Google’s and Apple’s Idea of User Experience Is Radically Different Than OEM’s
OEMs have decades of experience building products for drivers and know how to make a driving experience tailored to customers’ expectations of driving today. This includes hardware and software interaction that keeps drivers safe and focused. Google and Apple, on the other hand, know how to make user experiences tailored to high-interaction mobile and desktop devices. In many cases these worlds don’t play well together and trying to combine them can lead to poor results. Instead of relying on outsiders to provide an entirely owned user experience, OEMs should instead build their own in-house software expertise.
3. It’s About the Data, Stupid
Google is in the business of aggregating and monetizing data. This means data on your customers will be owned by Google, and they may or may not be inclined to share. In recent years Apple has been making moves in the same direction with the same expected results. As software continues to become more important and vehicle hardware becomes commoditized, owning and understanding your customers’ data will be essential. Additionally, customers are becoming increasingly concerned about how their data is collected and used by companies. This gives OEMs the opportunity to build trust with customers as responsible stewards of their data instead of as dumb pipes to 3rd parties.
4. Apple and Google Don’t Care About Driver Distraction
Based on current hardware and software offerings, neither Apple nor Google particularly cares about driver distraction or safety. Their name won’t be splashed in the news when a driver who is distracted by a head unit gets into an accident – your name will be. Software companies are excellent at producing software that is highly interactive with full attention and touch or mouse input, but have little experience with interaction that is low-attention and hands free. And beyond lacking experience, they also seem to lack the desire to innovate in this space as well. OEMs are better served by dedicated automotive partners and in-house expertise to deliver safe head unit interaction.
5. Google and Apple Will Be Your Competitors Soon
With Google’s self-driving car initiative and Apple’s rumored plans to seriously extend its automotive capabilities, both companies are positioning themselves to enter the automotive market in a big way. Combined with the success of Tesla’s cars which focus equally on hardware and software innovation, this creates a situation where OEMs that hand Google and Apple the keys to the head unit are really handing them the keys to the kingdom. While it may be easier in the short term to let Android Auto and Apple CarPlay take over the head unit, in the long run a reliance on these platforms can only hurt OEMs at a time when they should be focusing on building their in-car experience brand.