There was a time when someone mentioned cars and most people thought of the Big Three — GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Then Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Nissan came into the mix. Then BMW, Audi, and so on … now you even add Tesla to the list.
But there are two other companies breaking into the automotive space who are having a major impact on how automakers think about their products — Apple and Google.
If you have a newer vehicle you probably already have Apple or Google in your dashboard either in the form of Apple Car Play or Android Auto. It's no secret that Google is leading the way in self-driving cars, and if the rumors are true Apple is pulling in automative engineering talent from all over to create an automobile of its own. So in an age where a search engine giant and a consumer software/hardware company are playing around in the automotive space, automakers are facing an interesting question: Should they be functioning more like software companies?
“Apple and Google are fundamentally in the in-vehicle infotainment space and to that end I think they're well positioned in that space,”Anthony Reyes, director of strategy and partnerships for PSA Peugeot Citroen, told a panel audience at IoT World 2016. “This is a force that's coming. We all have handhelds that we probably hold all day long that are iOS- and Android-based. We've been immersed in that environment every single day … [Automakers] have got to figure out how do we adjust to that and focus on the consumer and what they really want.”
Others on the panel, “How to Behave Like Apple and Google,” agreed it will be customer demand that drives any major shifts that automakers make. “It's up to the auto industry to have a quick understanding of what the future needs are and how to adopt to them. And this is something we can learn from Apple and Google.” Uwe Higgen, head of the group technology office, USA for BMW, said.
Higgen said mobility isn't just about vehicles anymore and consumers' experience have evolved beyond simply purchasing a car, bike, or whatever their preferred mode of transportation is. The success of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft has transformed mobility into a service. Of course there has always been public transportation, but never on-demand in the scale we're seeing today.
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