Automotive > Infotainment & Telematics Blog

CES 2014: The Open Android Capitulation and the Connected Car

by Roger Lanctot | 1月 08, 2014

Car makers are diving head first into the app development arms race. This is leading to expensive decisions and decisions intended to avoid expensive outcomes. The most visible of these efforts is the Open Android Alliance or what I would call the “open” Android “alliance”.

The stated goal of the effort from Google in “cooperation” with Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA is to facilitate the propagation of Android apps in cars either via embedded systems or connected phones.  Less obvious are the requirements that Android not be modified and that any resulting intellectual property becomes the property of Google.

It is important for all involved – and there are likely to be many more soon as Tier 1 suppliers are gazing longingly over the fence yearning to participate – to understand that Google does not come bearing gifts.  Google comes bearing shackles in the guise of gifts. 

The only thing that might redeem this program is if Google can find a way to accommodate those car makers that choose to use Android for their own purposes – among them Renault, Volvo, Mercedes, Nissan and a growing roster of Android “forkers.”  Another mark of genuine interest in furthering the industry’s car connectivity aims would be a reticence on the part of Google to penalize those organizations that refuse to get on the bus.  (And, no, that is not a reference to Android’s inability to read automotive bus communications.)

Skepticism regarding Google’s motivations is an appropriate reaction.  The company has yet to prove its commitment to helping solve the unique safety and mission-critical performance and cost requirements associated with automotive solutions – with the possible exception of Google’s semi-autonomous car.

In fact, if Google were sharing technology from its SDC efforts its sincerity would be less suspect.  One can only hope OAA is not the latest Trojan horse from Silicon Valley.

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