Google’s new alliance aims at moving Android into automobiles

If you had any doubt that cars are shaping up as the new battlefield for consumer electronics and software, consider this news from Google and four auto-makers, along with the chip company Nvida.

The companies launched what they’re calling an “Open Automotive Alliance” on Monday to work on creating standards and making it easier to integrate Google’s Android mobile software into cars.

The new alliance, which includes Audi, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai, comes on the heels of other recent collaborative efforts by Apple and Microsoft with such major auto-makers as GM, Ford, Toyota and others.

As we’ve reported before, car companies are increasingly positioning their products as a platform for Internet connectivity and all kinds of related services, from navigation to communications and entertainment.  Ford executive Sheryl Connelly told a Churchill Club audience last year that younger motorists, especially, want their cars to do more than provide transportation.

“The worlds of consumer and automotive technologies have never been more closely aligned, and this alliance will only pave the way for faster innovation,” said Audi executive Ricky Hudi in a statement Monday.

Tech companies, meanwhile, are racing to stake their claims on the automotive front:  If people are going to be going online in their cars, Google wants them to be using its services – not a competitor’s.  Likewise for Apple and Microsoft.  All three tech companies are now working to integrate their voice-activated services into cars.

“Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it everyday,” said Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai.  “The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar seamless experience so they can focus on the road.”

The new grouping is reminiscent of a similar industry alliance that Google used to promote Android as a platform for smartphones several years back.

Still analysts note that integrating the new technology is not an easy task. Critics have complained that dashboard electronics are getting increasingly complicated, and balky. Consider this account from Steve Henn of National Public Radio, who reported today on his difficulties figuring out the new technology during a test drive arranged by Audi and Nvidia.

(Photo of Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept car, courtesy of Audi USA.)



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  • hugh

    my samsung galaxy running android crashes twice a day and that for doing one simple task – waiting for incoming call.

  • richard Grabowski

    I see a real problem developing here – and I am sure the big tech companies want to solve it. They think we are going to buy cars because you can link one operating system or cloud product to it versus another. For example, BMW has a deal with Apple, where it allows your Iphone and Ipod to share files with the car systems. The result – I simply don’t share my data on my Android with my car. I like the car, but could care less about anything they build on proprietary software and hardware.

    Dear car dealers – Keep your tech upgrades if this is the way you are going to deliver them. I really don’t care who you make deals with or what features you and your bunk mate think we cannot live without.

  • disqus_eM2BKDOBFd

    Here is an idea. How about less computer chips, less software, and simple operations of the car. Nah…. Too simple of a concept, plus the cost of the car would be half of the current models. Now, we can not have that, can we ??? This is why car companies fail.

  • Chris

    The more time goes by, the more I realize just how close we were to an Apple dominated tech world. And the more I am SO GRATEFUL that Google stepped up when it was clear that Microsoft was incapable.

    Thank you Andy Rubin, Vic Gundotra and the whole Android team! You saved us from the wall garden and Apple’s sterile design! THANK YOU!

    • bobblah

      Careful what you wish for…
      Both apple and google suck.

      • alrui

        You got that 1/2 right anyway:-)

  • I guess most people don’t want to focus on driving while driving.

  • bobblah

    Does this mean that my car will freeze up all the time, then I’ll have to hard power it down and reboot to get it working?

  • alrui

    Ahh just another data collection point for oogle, though I think I’d prefer Android OS to my wifes car and having to see that dreaded Microsoft logo on the console!