Generally speaking, more competition in any market is better for consumers since competing companies are forced to try and one-up each other at ever turn. In addition to helping drive innovation, pricing and costs are ordinarily kept at a much lower rate when competition is healthy. In addition to likely fears of being forced down in their own markets, these points have pushed Ford, Toyota, Mazda Motor Corp., PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., Elektrobit Automotive GmbH, Luxoft Holding Inc., and Xevo Inc. to form a SmartDeviceLink Consortium. The goal of the non-profit consortium is to promote more choice in how drivers connect their smart devices to their vehicles.
Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay have been around for some time now and are generally seen as the best way to connect to an automobile and interact with navigation, music, and other similar applications. In some cases, these software providers can give drivers access to other, more complex vehicle data. Ford already offers Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay on each of its 2017 models. However, Ford has stated that “encouraging innovation is at the center of Ford’s decision” to take part in the consortium. Toyota has claimed that the two platforms currently on offer from Apple and Google would hurt the safety and security of their vehicles. These are genuine concerns since the software interacts with more than just the media center for many vehicles. That said, the statements also speak to concerns that the influence of the two tech giants may grow too large without some competition.
SmartDeviceLink itself is an open-source alternative for the companies taking part in the group, with agreements on the software first taking shape way back in 2011. The associated consortium continues to seek new entities to join, with hopes of maintaining control over both how much access outsiders to the industry have to vehicle data and which applications are allowed in their cars. In any case, this is hardly the first time such resistance to Android Auto has occurred. In 2015, Porsche cited Android Auto needed access to what was “basically a complete OBD2 dump whenever Android Auto is activated” as a reason to not put Android Auto in its vehicles. Android Auto remains available built into many aftermarket stereos.