It is no secret that both Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay are vying to be the new infotainment system in your next new vehicle purchase and with Android Play you can also buy a 'head' to install in your current vehicle. Some carmakers are designing their own systems with the hopes that third parties will develop the apps needed for them to run properly. The carmakers claim they do not want Google (or Apple) to have access to the driver's personal data and driving habits. Our first thought might be, 'how nice it is that the carmakers want to protect us from the certain scrutiny and info gathering techniques that Google is famous for.' However, nothing could be further from the truth – the carmakers want that information to generate billions of dollars for themselves and are only now exploring their options on how to accomplish that goal. Friedmar Rumpel, vice president in AlixPartners' automotive practice said, "The risk is, if you give up control and somebody else figures out that business model, then you lose the future revenue stream."
There is much information that can be learned about a driver and their habits simply by monitoring the vehicle's activity. The most obvious is where does this person go – where do they shop, how often do they go to bars, how fast do the drive, do they slam on the brakes and how many miles-per-gallon are they getting and where do they purchase their gas – all potentially valuable information to merchants, car warranties and especially insurance companies. Can you imagine your auto insurance rates being predicated on your driving habits or how often you stop at a bar?
Travel planning is another way that money can be made using data collected from your driving habits. Car dealerships make most of their money from auto repairs – the information collected could help steer drivers back to the dealerships for scheduled maintenance. The original idea of these infotainment systems was to make driving your vehicle safer by giving you access to your smartphone for talking while driving or turn-by-turn navigation, however, they are quickly becoming a future source of revenue that the carmakers want for themselves. The question remains if drivers are willing to share their information with their 'vehicle.'
Apple claims that it is only collecting limited data to "enhance the in-car services…such as GPS to make Apple Maps as accurate as possible." Apple said in a statement, "As with all of our products, CarPlay is built from the ground up to protect your privacy using the same industry-leading safeguards already at work on iPhone. All of the data is anonymized, not connected with other Apple services, and is not stored by Apple, so no one can build a profile about the driver or their travels." Google says their only aim is to integrate data from the car with Android Auto "for an improved driving experience." With Android Auto, you are asked upfront whether you agree to share data with Google and third-party apps.