During a Q & A session at the 2013 New York Auto Show, representatives from Ford, Facebook and Google expressed their support for a standardization of the in-car app market. Currently, when an app developer wants to make its app available to several automakers, it has to create different versions that are compatible with each manufacturer’s infotainment system.
If Pandora, for example, wants to make its app available on Ford’s Sync with AppLink and Chevy’s MyLink systems, the company has to create two versions of the app instead of just one. Not only is this a drain on app developers’ resources, it’s also a huge pain for drivers who have to download new versions of their favorite apps anytime they get into a new car.
Google’s head of Global Mobile Sales and Product Strategy Brendon Kraham equated the current fragmentation of the automotive apps market to the days when phone manufacturers each used their own proprietary operating systems. “The expectation of the consumer is to have all of their screens work together,” Kraham said. “You as a business should be providing this.”
Ford’s Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Sales and Service James Farely, Jr. echoed Kraham’s sentiments during a brief Q & A session, saying that Ford hopes the auto industry creates an automotive app store that would work like or in conjunction with Google’s Play store or Apple’s App Store. “Cars have to move to an open architecture in order for more apps to be offered.”
Facebook’s Head of Global Automotive Marketing Doug Frisbie offered similar remarks, explaining that drivers expect their vehicles to be connected devices. “As in-vehicle technology has grown in North America, it becomes important for cars to connect with all apps,” Frisbie said, adding that alternative models of vehicle ownership and car sharing mean that users will have to move from vehicle to vehicle without having to constantly download new apps. “Embrace the best of what is already out there. There’s no need to reinvent what’s out there.”