Let’s look at the European headquartered industry for a moment and put Rest of World to one side (since that dynamic is different…and, in some ways, more advanced in terms of collaboration with “new” technology majors).
One European Connected Car scenario to consider is this: the European heavy hitters (BMW, Merc and Audi and others) continue to go their own way for a while (with lip service to collaboration, which means working with app and content players to do stuff working on OEM platforms), spending huge sums on in-house connected car teams. The smaller ones – without the resources – hitch up to Apple/Android and, as a consequence of exposure to more solutions thinking and execution capacity with third parties, find it easier to consider alternatives to the “keep it in house at all costs” DIY strategy. The smaller guys forge ahead and thanks to their open-minded attitude to partnership benefit from some real Connected Car innovation. The automotive and digital eco-systems intertwine more and more and the heavy hitters find that they are lagging behind, with their not–invented-here stance.
Will they adapt and move-on to partner Apple or Google, for example? Probably. Will they suffer from their slow start in the market? Well, I guess that depends on just how slow they are; but more than likely no. Anyway, what about second mover advantage, learning from others’ mistakes? Some of the OEMs who have been earlier heavy investors may have spent a lot of time and resources on dead ends. I think a truly significant collaboration between a major European automotive OEM and a technology giant is not too far away.
Update September 2014 (original blog posted December 2013)
Today we see GM move away from their platform MyLink. They are seeing the might of CarPlay and Android Auto. We also see a very smart collaboration between JLR and Apple and Google, with the InControl architecture interoperating with those platforms. We suspect we may see more OEMs follow similar strategies soon, even if they emphasise interoperation and platform evolution and compatibility rather than talk about “ditching their connected car platforms”. Fair enough; it’s in everyone’s interests in this industry to preserve dignity.