Carmakers should be wary of deploying Apple’s CarPlay

Apple will be the sole decision maker and gatekeeper regarding what will be available through its CarPlay infotainment system and the outcome may not always be in the best interests of OEMs, a study warns.

Carmakers handing over the decision of app and content availability for the vehicles they manufacture to Apple are giving up access to valuable data that could help firms learn more about their customers, connected car systems firm Airbiquity warned.

Further, carmakers will lose the ability to differentiate across brands – as all Apple CarPlay user interfaces will be the same regardless of the manufacturer.

Apple made its entry into the connected car market clear last year when it announced its CarPlay infotainment system. During last year’s Geneva Motor Show many major carmakers said they would adopt the system, spawning discussion over competition across the automotive industry.

Airbiquity, which conducted the study into Apple’s CarPlay, claims that although Apple said it intends to incorporate rival apps into the system (like Spotify, Stitcher and Beats), the tech firm’s “historical resistance to open platforms” should be a warning sign that the firm may be slow to make good on this.

Airbiquity offers its own connected car platform, called Choreo.

Car firm Toyota has been keen to distance itself from Apple, telling the New York Times yesterday that it “currently has no plans” to offer the system in the US, despite the fact it is listed as a “committed partner” on Apple’s website, and accidentally published an announcement that CarPlay would enter UK cars this year on its website - a faux pas that occured last year.

Other “committed partners” listed on Apple’s site include Audi, Citroen, BMW Group, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, Land Rover and Volvo.

The study into CarPlay stated: “Airbiquity believes a perpetual truth about the automotive industry is the relentless drive for competitive differentiation. In our eyes competitive differentiation is essential to the short and long-term vitality of any OEM brand, and is influenced by user exposure to every aspect of the vehicle, inside and out.

“We also believe the ability for connected car technology to contribute positively to competitive differentiation is significant, and shall weigh heavily on OEM decisions regarding wide-scale CarPlay deployment.”

The connected car services firm cited technical requirements, including the need to support decoding methods in head units, which could cost a “minimum of $20 per head unit to accommodate H.264 decoding alone”, which overall could contribute to a “$40 million in incremental expense”.

Additionally, implementing Apple may put off Android users, the firm said.

Lacking safety features

It also criticised Apple’s solution for not mitigating driver distraction or installing some sort of alert to summon assistance in the event of a crash.

It stated: “Apple’s sole proprietorship and total control of CarPlay - and its uniform UI - will hamper OEM ability to comply with the slew of mandatory driver distraction mitigation rules, as well as new. As far as speech recognition technology Apple has communicated that Siri will play a key role in enabling driver distraction mitigation. However Siri has yet to demonstrate an ability to perform as well as finely tuned on-board voice recognition technology engineered into today’s vehicles that continues to innovate at a rapid pace.

“Based on experience with Siri, Apple will have to work quickly to meet the demanding requirements for reliably managing and executing in-vehicle voice commands in the continuously variable and unpredictably noisy cabin of a vehicle in motion.”

Tech rival Google will reveal more details about its Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) this year.

One carmaker, Renault, has publicly put its fists up to Google and Apple over car market ownership. Its chief digital officer revealed how it was fine-tuning its digital strategy to compete with the tech giants during Dreamforce last year.

Image: ©Apple

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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