MADISON, Wis. — Techies from Detroit and Silicon Valley to Wall Street and Munich are abuzz with talk about the connected car. Technology companies, seeing big stakes (and dollar signs), are betting big on the growth potential of connected cars.
The French bank Exane BNP Paribas forecasts that the connected car market will grow to $50 billion over the next decade. This "a five-year race where there is money to be made, or lost," an Exane BNP analyst wrote in a note to clients.
It's easy to jockey into position for the next big thing. It's harder to identify the extent to which each horse is affecting the race -- in this case, the auto industry.
Last month, we heard about Android Auto at Google I/O, and Automotive Grade Linux took the wraps off its open-source software. Multiple wireless technologies are now getting shoved inside cars.
Beyond connectivity options, the biggest challenges -- and unintended consequences -- brought on by the connected car are the plethora of choices for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) software platforms and the number of apps the connected car is expected to run.
(Source: US Department of Transportation)
Long gone are the good old days when automakers were totally in control of an IVI system running in-house software on proprietary hardware. Whether Detroit likes it or not, the connected car has already turned into a playground for Silicon Valley firms to build their own ecosystem.
Despite all the talk about Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay, industry analysts make it clear that neither Google nor Apple will move into the connected car's dashboard anytime soon.
Roger Lanctot, associate director of automotive multimedia and communications service at Strategy Analytics, recently wrote in his blog that the automotive industry cannot afford to ignore Google and Apple. Those two companies have demonstrated that they can do exactly what others -- Abalta, Airbiquity, Luxoft, Harman, OpenCar, UIE, Nuance, Bosch, and RealVNC -- have already done: integrate smartphones in cars.
Egil Juliussen, director of infotainment and ADAS research at IHS Automotive, told us variations of Linux are finally moving into the historically closed automotive world. Beyond QNX and Microsoft, both of which have dominated the IVI platform, industrywide initiatives such as GENIVI (open-source common automotive infotainment reference platforms) and Automotive Grade Linux (based on Tizen OS) are beginning to show promise.
The focus of such industry alliances is to deliver pre-competitive elements of the IVI stack.
In the following pages, we dissect the connected car, lay out technology building blocks, and answer fundamental questions about the connected car's multilayered tangle of software (who offers what and who leads in which areas) into which the automotive industry has been thrown.
Six key questions:
- Why connect a car?
- How is a car connected?
- Who rules the dashboard today?
- Who will lead the infotainment software platform in the future?
- What's all the fuss about CarPlay and Android Auto?
- What IVI platform strategies, if any, are car OEMs using?