Auto makers oughta feel threatened by CarPlay

From  Basem Wasef's "Apple's Aggressive New Version of CarPlay Is Scaring the Car Industry. Here's Why." posted Wednesday in the Robb Report:

The auto industry’s most controversial new car feature isn’t a self-driving system or a form of electrification. The hot topic these days is CarPlay — yes, the familiar interface that insidiously wormed its way into the hearts and minds of drivers everywhere since its introduction at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

The plug-and-play platform has become so ubiquitous that it’s now equipped on 98 percent of new cars sold in the US. More compellingly, 79 percent of American car buyers consider it a must-have when shopping for their next ride, according to Apple’s Emily Schubert. That critical metric has endowed Apple with loads of leverage when it comes to negotiating with automakers, and the next generation of CarPlay announced in June is so potentially groundbreaking it’s threatened to upend the relationship between car companies and the Cupertino-based consumer electronics juggernaut.

Already teased at a recent Apple developer conference is a feature that enables CarPlay to navigate to a gas station and pay for the fill-up. The idea isn’t new; according to Car & Driver, GM attempted the trick as early as 2017, but later abandoned it. But the sense in the industry is that Apple’s longstanding ability to take a significant challenge and create an elegant and intuitive solution means that this time round it’s more likely to gain rapid, widespread acceptance.

Which explains why carmakers are feeling more threatened than ever by the idea of handing over their user experience to a savvy outsider. As Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives explained to Marketplace.org, “Auto is a massive industry for Apple because it’s just a further expansion of its ecosystem. Its goal is to be more and more entrenched in consumers’ life.” Monetizing gas station tip-offs is the tip of the iceberg; CarPlay’s integration of apps for everything from parking spot finders to EV charger locators suggests the monetized possibilities are endless...

Some manufacturers say they’re working with Apple on the next-gen system, but CNBC suggests many might be hesitant to take this next giant leap forward. Perhaps the most telling observation comes from AutoForecast Solutions analyst Conrad Layson, who says “It’s a really difficult time in the industry, where the car companies think they’re still building cars. They’re not. They’re building software on wheels, and they don’t know it, and they’re trading it away.”

My take: We saw this coming. And if we see it, the automakers must see it too.

22 Comments

  1. Randy McCleary said:
    What the car companies did not learn from aftermarket car stereos, they will learn from add-on screen-jacking tech. Either play nice or end-users will find a way to leverage tech to overwrite native displays. -RJ

    4
    August 4, 2022
    • Alan Birnbaum said:
      Think of a deer in the headlights …..

      0
      August 4, 2022
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      Randy M. —

      I haven’t rented many vehicles, but cringed when I have, dealing with sub-park to lousy UI and its cheap Las Vegas-neon style flash visual gymnastics.

      It is no small wonder here that the public aches for the simple and lovely  version of UI design and implementation.

      Why most car companies don’t just hand this interface baton over and take the burden off their shoulders is beyond me.

      The recognition that people simply want their life’s workhorse device to be gently dovetailed into their life’s transportation device should instantly be SO apparent to anyone. No genius thoughts required.

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      August 4, 2022
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    I remember clearly in 2018 when talking with my car salesman that our decades long relationship was imperil if his manufacturer auto brand did not adopt Apple Car Play. It was a jaw-dropping remark for him to hear me say. He literally was aghast. He laughed nervously while looking at me and said, “Jerry D, you can’t be serious.” I smiled back and said, “I’m serious.”

    I was fed up with legacy car manufacturers (I drive multiple rentals) who could not and would not provide user-friendly software for drivers in their cars. I knew that Apple would do so and I wanted that seamless transition from my iPhone to my car and I also wanted the two to interact. There is as much if not more to the driving experience absorbed from seamless integration of computing software from our devices as there is to the driving experience of the hardware we are riding and driving. I truly was prepared to switch car brands to get access to Apple Car Play.

    I read yesterday that legacy car manufacturers are finding that the feature resulting in new car sales most among young buyers are cars with large and expansive touch screens. The new and innovative EV Mercedes now have touch screens across the width of the car. This is the future of touch screens in cars. We truly have enter the age of cars being computers-on-wheels and with consumers fast seeking the same experience inside their personal vehicles as they experience with their many computing devices.

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    August 4, 2022
  3. Bob Goldstein said:
    @Jerry Doyle I would buy a Tesla 3 but not having Apple Car Play is a deal breaker for me

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    August 4, 2022
    • Lalit Jagtap said:
      @ Bob Goldstein I have concluded that until Elon Musk is controlling Tesla, the Apple CAR play will not be supported by Tesla. We bought Model S in Oct 2013, and Apple CAR Play was launched in Mar 2014.

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      August 4, 2022
  4. Mordechai Beizer said:
    Both Audi and BMW turn off traffic information after a year unless you subscribe to their service. Once CarPlay became nicely integrated on both platforms you can imagine how little I cared about their subscription upsell. I never use their UI anymore except for when listening to the radio.

    I absolutely agree with the comments about lack of CarPlay being a deal breaker.

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    August 4, 2022
  5. Will Grover said:
    @Jerry Doyle

    Indeed, Apple CarPlay (or lack thereof) was one of the driving (pun intended) reasons I went with a Honda Ridgeline rather than a Tacoma…

    3
    August 4, 2022
    • Roger Schutte said:
      I absolutely LOVE my Ridgeline. It’s my second vehicle (other is BMW i3) and it’s perfect in so many ways.

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      August 4, 2022
  6. Jonny T said:
    I believe the car companies have known this for a long time. After all, they have all invested in software, even twinned with the likes of Microsoft (Ford?!), but have simply become enlightened about the magic that is Apple’s UI and software.
    Absolutely zero chance for them to beat Apple at its game.

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    August 4, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      even twinned with the likes of Microsoft (Ford?!)

      My 2011 Ford F-250 (7 liter diesel) had Ford’s digital dashboard. Three trips to the Ford dealership and a software upgrade couldn’t get it to work properly. I told the dealership owner (a personal friend) that if Ford continued its relationship with Microsoft my next vehicle would be a Chevrolet.

      I had bought the F-250 to haul classic cars around the country. Other than the dash it was the best truck for me and I really liked it.

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      August 4, 2022
  7. Richard Weathered said:
    For a few years now when renting cars from Enterprise I’ve insisted they provide a car with CarPlay. My car now and the last two had it and I wouldn’t buy a car in the future with out it.
    I chuckle when I see a car next to me using all manner of devices for dashboard, vents, and windshields to hold their phones.

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    August 4, 2022
  8. The dashboard/cockpit is the defining feature of our fast rides, especially classic cars. Going generic will make going safer, maybe we’ll encounter less congestion, explore new worlds and leave driving for country roads and winter weather. It’ll be a cold day in São Paulo before I’ll ride autonomous in snow. I’ll include a link to my photos of classic dashboards & cockpits below.

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    August 4, 2022
  9. Steven Philips said:
    I think the last line of the article is wrong. They’re not trading it away. They’re not competent enough to build that software and they try to “personalize” it like the rest of the vehicle. Fine for style. Not for function.
    As many have pointed out, this part needs functionality AND familiarity.
    Apple should work with manufacturers to allow customization of parts of the design that don’t effect function to allow some differentiation. If they continue to go it alone most will have inferior results and be called out for it in reviews etc. This is now part of a cars “performance”.

    1
    August 4, 2022
  10. Gregg Thurman said:
    After restoring 20+ pre-WWII luxury and semi-luxury automobiles to show condition I came to realize that todays automobiles don’t do anything better (except tires and brakes), just different (and more complex).

    I currently drive a 1999 Chrysler Grand Caravan with 130,000 miles on it. Body and interior look near new. When I need digital info I break out my year old iPad Pro (5G). I did replace the radio to get CarPlay.

    I haven’t had a car payment in years, my insurance is minimum required, as is annual registration fees. I figure I have saved about $12,000 per year for a very long time.

    I have been tempted to go electric BECAUSE they are better than current ICE, but am waiting for mass production (and the inevitable lower cost of batteries) before taking the leap. My primary consideration will be the model designed for someone 6’2” and a bit overweight to get in and out of without contorting themselves (probably, at this point, a Rivian pickup). It’ll be nice when wind tunnels are no longer used to design automobiles, especially when you consider that wind tunnel design efficiency doesn’t kick in until you hit 40mph.

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    August 4, 2022
  11. Miguel Ancira said:
    Self driving will be here when 100% of the cars have ACP. Pinging to avoid other cars will be the way of the future.

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    August 4, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Pinging to avoid other cars will be the way of the future.

      mmw5G. Calendar 2027, most likely 2030.

      For me, this is what Apple wants its own cellular radios for. CarPlay+ with an Apple mmw5G radio and Apple “MX” processors will provide the power to make true (and safe) autonomous driving possible.

      And it won’t need to rely on carriers cellular networks.

      I’d be surprised if the auto industry fathomed the tsunami headed their way. Everybody, I mean EVERYBODY, is trying to accomplish autonomy using current hardware technology. Only Apple is tackling it holistically with proprietary silicon and software, first taking over cellphone integration, then then digital dash and finally autonomous driving.

      Apple doesn’t need to manufacture an autonomous EV to control the industry, but when it does it will be bigger than GM, Tesla and Toyota combined, not necessarily in vehicles produced, but from derived automotive revenue.

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      August 4, 2022
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        Adding to the above.

        California has mandated that all new passenger vehicles sold in the State be EV by 2035. What California does all others will follow. Even States that don’t pass similar laws won’t be able to sell ICE’s because Detroit won’t be producing them.

        I see vehicle registration fees for ICE’s jumping dramatically starting in 2030, with the aim to push them off the road entirely by 2040. Only specialty use vehicles (including classic cars) will be allowed, and even then registration fees will be very high (not to mention gasoline).

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        August 4, 2022
  12. Rodney Avilla said:
    In 2016 I decided not to buy a car if it did not have CarPlay. I ended up buying an Acura, because I liked the car, but no CarPlay. Next I bought a Tesla, still no CarPlay. Not that I changed my mind about CarPlay, just my desire to have a Tesla was greater (and not regretting it). And now with Full Self Driving, I don’t see how CarPlay would work on a Tesla, without integration between the 2 software systems (Apple’s and Tesla’s) to the point that they are, in essence, functioning as one company. And as much as I wished Tim Cook was in charge of Tesla, it’s not gonna happen, nor should it happen.

    0
    August 4, 2022
    • Lalit Jagtap said:
      @Rodney Avilla The Tesla design team still has a long way to design intuitive UI for its vehicle specially the older models like mine 2013 Model S. Last month’s software pushed significant UI changes. The worst part is the Tesla team, does not think it is important to communicate in advance to existing vehicle owners about upcoming changes to UI.

      0
      August 4, 2022
  13. Jeff Galanti said:
    I have said to many of my friends that the technology for full self-driving will be well ahead of the regulatory framework, particularly because tort lawyers are going to drool at the opportunity to sue car manufacturers for any accidents. Having a robust CarPlay that goes into others’ vehicles is a perfect solution. They don’t have to alienate a large portion of the population by making their own vehicle (think how Ford people hate Chevy, etc.) and they can incrementally dial up or down the capabilities of the software.

    I compare being a car manufacturer to being a politician in today’s environment. No matter what kind of job you do or how good a person you are, 35-45% of the population is going to hate your guts. Being a car software provider will allow Apple to maintain their historically high approval numbers and fully capture our eyeballs and ears for that many more hours of the day.

    Apple is slowly boiling the frog here. In 5 years, we will see that they are de facto controlling design decisions in other manufacturers’ vehicles. I am not exactly sure what the financial model looks like here over time but I know that it is good to be essential.

    2
    August 4, 2022
  14. Tom Farris said:
    To add the historical flashback to Conrad Layson’s final sentence…the railroad companies that delivered goods nationwide thought that they could never be replaced because they were in “the business of railroading”…until Semi-Trucks came along and showed them that they (railroads) were really in the freight hauling business…and they didn’t own that anymore.

    0
    August 4, 2022

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