A Plea for Apple to Make Car Infotainment Systems

As a user of iOS devices, I’m all for Apple-based infotainment systems in cars. And if Apple wants to move into a space where they can really disrupt things (beyond the fabled Apple-branded TV and iWatches), it’s the car.  From Cult of Mac:

Back when the idea of using a mobile phone to listen to music was somewhat exotic and far from universal, Apple partnered with Motorola to develop the Rokr phone, which Steve Jobs introduced as an “iTunes Phone.”

The phone, which shipped in 2005, sucked. And it didn’t seriously change the general trajectory of users embracing phones for listening to music.

To me, enabling car companies to build the entertainment system and parts of the user interface while Apple designs the software interface and also backend functionality is very roughly comparable to the Rokr phone idea.

Apple wins through tight integration, a benefit generally lost when they try to partner with other companies on the total user experience.

Instead, Apple should build the hardware and software of the in-dash unit itself.

Nice idea, but I don’t think this will happen.  Vehicle manufacturers are loathe to give up control over anything in the product that can give them a competitive edge. To completely farm out something as important as the hardware that delivers entertainment, information and telemetry is against their way of doing business.

However, there is something called “second tier” suppliers when it comes to what you see in the dashboard.  These are companies that make bespoke units under contract: Becker, Fujitsu, Panasonic and so on.  Chances are you have one of their products in your car.  You just don’t know it because they’re white labelled to look like they’re part-and-parcel with your brand of car.

I can’t ever see Apple white labelling units like this.  And what would the manufacturer do about Android/Blackberry/Windows Phone users?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.