There is a trend in the automobile industry. Automakers are embracing connected cars (including semi-autonomous and fully autonomous technology), but they are shunning Google’s Open Automotive Alliance. They are refusing to buy the idea of Android-powered cars.
Here is a rundown of how the big boys are playing their cards:
- Ford chose BlackBerry’s QNX for its planned self-driving cars
- In 2015, Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen acquired Nokia’s HERE Maps
- Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, is reported to be developing its own in-house solution called Mobility Service Platform (MSPF). It is based on Automotive Grade Linux, a platform developed by automakers and suppliers around the world.
- Nissan and Renault are developing their own in-house platform, also Linux-based
Do you spot the trend? The major car manufacturers see that driver-less cars are the future and have gotten in the programme, but they are shunning Google. The big boys do not want their cars powered by Android OS. Let’s be sincere: Apple isn’t likely to license out its software platform to anyone anyway. Not unless things become desperate for them. So, it is really Google that the manufacturers are shunning.
Why Not Android-powered Cars?
In a nutshell, the big car manufacturers are not willing to give up control. Whoever owns the platform dictates the game to a large extent. Ceding control of connected car platform to Google has the potential danger of turning the automakers into just hardware makers. In a world increasingly run by software, that would be a mistake on their part.
And so, the big boys are dipping into their war chests to invest in software. This is the scenario in the smartphone world replaying itself but with the car makers being proactive. They are ahead of Google in this software dash. Or at the worst, they are at par with Google.
As far back as 2013, Mercedes-Benz had a self-driving car on the road covering the distance between Lagos and Ibadan. That car was powered by HERE Maps.
In the bigger picture, it is true that the car makers are already selling cars in droves. And now, they have (or are building) the software to power those cars into the connected future. There are those who say that Google has the software but no cars yet. Well, not exactly. They do.
Who Are Those Making Android-powered Cars?
There are a few manufacturers who have pitched their tents with Android. Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai are in that club. Hyundai, in particular, have been very aggressive in their push for connected cars.
Actually, some of those players who are now buying or developing their own platforms were signed up to Google’s Open Automotive Alliance.
Winners And Losers?
There are no losers here, as far as I can see. It looks like a healthy playing field with lots of options available. Regardless of what platforms the different car makers run their connected cars on, all those cars will talk to one another and be integral parts of the grand grid we cal the Internet of Things.