Apple Pushing Its Way Into Auto Industry with iOS Infotainment

Apple is a tough competitor in the smartphone and tablet markets, and it wants to translate those services over to the auto industry.
The tech giant from Cupertino, Calif. hopes to push BlackBerry and Microsoft aside when it comes to dashboard space in cars for navigation, music, emails, etc. With the iPhone being one of the most popular smartphones in the world, some automakers are jumping onboard with the idea of allowing iOS connectivity in their vehicles.
In fact, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen’s Audi, BMW, Toyota Motor Corp., Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar and the Chrysler Group LLC plan to use Apple’s Siri Eyes Free service in models released as early as this year. Siri Eyes Free was made to control functions like music and texting without requiring the user to take their eyes off the road.
However, many believe that Apple won’t be a serious game changer that takes over the auto infotainment business. For starters, companies like BlackBerry and Microsoft have already established places in this area and hold huge market share. BlackBerry’s QNX system makes up 50 percent of the 2012 market for proprietary OS in cars while Microsoft has about 25 percent.
Also, Apple’s Siri function in iOS 6 hasn’t proven to be the best option for functions like navigation. For instance, Editor Ron Montoya said that Siri didn’t work too well for voice recognition, making navigation difficult.

Siri Eyes-Free is front and center on the new Chevrolet Spark  
But Apple is close to releasing iOS 7, which may offer a better Siri experience for autos.
Analysts from HIS iSuppli believe that Apple will more likely make a move in the music and entertainment part of the dashboard rather than navigation and other functions. Currently, Pandora holds the top spot as auto music provider with one-third of all new vehicles sold this year having the service pre-installed, but Apple hopes to make a move with iTunes.
“It’s something that people want, and I think that Apple can do this in a unique way and better than anyone else,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, regarding iOS compatibility in vehicles. “It’s a key focus for us.”

It’s becoming a key focus for automakers as well, who are realizing that drivers are opting for cheap apps on their mobile devices for navigation, music, etc. instead of pricey infotainment systems made by the automaker. These embedded systems can cost up to $2,000 and provide software that must be updated periodically at the dealership. Smartphone apps, on the other hand, offer real-time updates sent right to the phone, and these apps are often inexpensive or free.
This is causing many automakers to rethink their strategy, allowing smartphones to sync with dashboard interfaces. With this new realization emerging, Apple likely wants to jump on the bandwagon so iOS users – which make up a big population of the smartphone market – can have yet another excuse to stick with the platform.