Horace Dediu has seen Apple’s automotive future. It’s called CarPlay.

“The failure of initial efforts… have caused resets and reboots and pivots which means no entry is visible in the near future.”

From Dediu’s “Significant Contribution Again” posted last Thursday on Asymco:

So is CarPlay significant and can it provide control? On the control side the answer is a tentative yes. CarPlay creates an iOS bubble in the car and it sustains the iPhone ecosystem with no incursions by alternatives likely. [Android Auto which seems to have a similar degree of adoption does the same for Android but there is no “pull” of switchers from one to the other.] Anecdotally, CarPlay support has become a hygiene issue with carmakers. Having it offers few advantages but not having it may repel users…

Apple has effectively injected software in a lot of cars and done so relatively quickly. By licensing it has amplified its reach much in the way Microsoft did with Windows and the Intel PC in the 90s. The speed is remarkable because everything in the car industry happens very slowly.

apple car play dediu

More than 1000 licensed car models in 4 years. This is quite a feat.

But the software touches only a fragment of the car. Infotainment is important, perhaps more than anything else the user perceives about the car experience. But it has not changed what the car is. It has not made driving safer nor more productive or more efficient.

Messaging and calling and mapping/navigation notwithstanding, significance needs to be measured in more important terms. The iPhone is significant precisely because an iPhone is not a Phone. The Apple Watch is significant because it’s not a Watch. AirPods are significant because they are not just acoustics.

CarPlay would be significant if it made the car something it isn’t and not keep the car being what it is. We know it should be something else and that is what we are all waiting for.

My take: Mr. Micromobility is being a bit provocative here. But only a bit.


  1. It was a foot in the door. Now it’s required. I disagree with “ Having it offers few advantages but not having it may repel users…” because most car manufacturers really screw up car audio/NAV interfaces. Cadillac Cue was a nightmare. Mercedes radios were once impenetrable. Having rented 1,000s of cars I could finally enjoy the ride to some client’s training facility when they all let Apple in their dashboards.

    February 23, 2021
    • Adam Foster said:
      Since CarPlay started to become available in rental cars I have always opted for and enjoyed CarPlay. Unfortunaterly, all my personal / Farm vehicles range from 1954 to 2012, my newest.

      February 23, 2021
  2. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Comparatively speaking, using Apple products and software is akin to slipping into your favorite slippers.

    Somehow more comfortable.

    Somehow more confident.

    Somehow more content.

    Apple’s CarPlay carries this same paradigm into the automotive bubble. What this automotive “pair of slippers” will develop into is currently anyone’s guess, but in it’s absence, one gets the feeling Apple certainly does belong there to where you’d miss it if it wasn’t.

    An inevitable fit going forward.

    February 23, 2021
  3. Rodney Avilla said:
    if car play is Apple’s car end-of-game plan, then I think they have been spending way too much money on research for autonomous driving cars. It would be like an archeologist looking for a skeleton and coming up with a mandible. Many times when I travel I don’t even listen to the radio. I think Dediu had thrown in the towel way too soon.

    February 23, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      I’m really concerned about the need to tackle safety critical software differently than infotainment/vetronics systems. Part of this is the absence of clear guidance from the government on what will be required and part of that is the need for developers to look at how to verify software to much higher levels of assurance.

      February 23, 2021
  4. Timothy Smith said:
    After a year of negotiations, I finally received my wife’s permission to replace my Chevy Volt with a Tesla. I test drove the S, 3 and the Y. I decided going all electric (as opposed to the first 50 miles) is not worth giving up CarPlay. So I am waiting until Tesla gets CarPlay, or until the charging infrastructure makes a long drive less onerous with a Bolt or Mustang.

    February 24, 2021
    • I’m floored Tesla does not support CarPlay. Vindictiveness? Security? Musk fears an impending Macar? Wants cash from Apple for doing so? Unlikely to be Apple’s decision.

      February 24, 2021
  5. Being able to use apps like Waze handsfree in my Honda definitely makes my bee products delivery route safer. The first time I was told about bales of hay in the road ahead while doing 120k I was impressed. I slowed and passed 2 cars that hit the hay!

    February 24, 2021

Leave a Reply