It is Bill Gates who once mused that “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 MPG”. Well, today it looks like the auto-makers don’t have much of a choice but to catch up with technology, as over 66% of consumers surveyed by Accenture (see infograph above) put “in-car technology” ahead of “driving performance” as the bigger influencer in their car purchase decisions.
- Right now, the number of cars connected to the Internet worldwide is estimated at 23 million, according to IHS Automotive
Even with auto-manufacturers slowly realizing the market demand for connected cars, however, there are still some developmental roadblocks in sight. For starters, the development and update cycles of the mobile technology greatly outpaces that of the automobile and such difficulty in syncing could spell big trouble for the built-in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) systems. Even with the brought-in methods that involve tethering dongles or linking smartphones to the cars, there is serious concern on the compatibility issue between different proprietary products. Neither approach is perfect, hence some automakers’ hesitance in moving forward. Nevertheless, the auto industry is, with a little prod from the tech world, slowly but surely catching up with the trend.
- Over 20% of global vehicle sales in 2015 to include embedded connectivity solutions
- Over 50% of global vehicles sales in 2015 to be connected (either by embedded, tethered or smart phone integration)
Covering all current methods to get a car digitally connected, these two optimistic but conceivable forecasted numbers point to a bright future for the marriage of tech and auto. Almost all major tech companies have now forayed into the field. We’ve got:
- Apple with its CarPlay OS looking to link iPhones with cars;
- Google’s Android leaning on leaders of its Open Automotive Alliance, including 29 automakers currently on board, to push it out;
- Microsoft trying to gain traction for Windows in the Car;
- BlackBerry being the potential black horse in the race, as its QNX operating system is the same system that runs beneath CarPlay and Android Auto.
Regardless of the outcome, with all these tech giants powering the engines, it looks like those fancy connected cars are indeed in the fast lane, from L.A. to Tokyo.