Echoing its early “Open Handset Alliance” to promote Android development and adoption, Google and a number of car makers this morning announced the “Open Automotive Alliance” (OAA). The objective is to build Android into the “connected car.”
Members of the OAA currently include Audi, GM, Hyundai and NVIDIA. In June 2012, Apple announced partnerships with a number of car manufacturers including BMW, GM, Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi, Land Rover, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda to incorporate “eyes free” Siri-compatibility into the car.
However, the OAA is more sweeping and ambitious than Apple’s initiative. The following statement is from the press release out this morning:
The OAA is aimed at accelerating auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customization and scale, key tenets that have already made Android a familiar part of millions of people’s lives. This open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way.
Android’s market share dominance gives the OAA a leg up on Apple and Microsoft’s Sync in-dash system, which is used by Ford and Toyota. The connected car is the standout category at this year’s CES, which I’m not attending.
While there was already in-car competition, the formation of the OAA marks a new acceleration of the race for mind share and market share in the “connected car.” And the competitive risks for both Apple and Microsoft are significant.
Should Google succeed, it will give Android a further platform boost vs. those mobile rivals. You’ll want your phone to seamlessly integrate with your in-dash “infotainment” system. The more cars with Android built in, the more people will be inclined to buy Android smartphones and tablets.
My guess is that the car OEMs will want to make their vehicles somewhat agnostic and not limit themselves to one mobile OS. But that remains to be seen.
Google services (e.g., mail, maps, etc.) will also likely be a part of any in-car Android OS. And you can expect that over time, should this initiative succeed, the “connected car” will become a channel for Google advertising as well.