Exclusive: Automakers Concerned Google Wants To "Eat Their Lunch"

Google Self Driving Car IO AH 1
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Many original equipment manufacturers in the auto industry are concerned about Internet companies such as Google and Facebook, worrying they are eventually seeking to "eat their lunch," according to Ky Tang, Executive Director of Strategy at Telenav, a location-based service provider working in the segment. In an interview with AndroidHeadlines, Mr. Tang mentioned widespread skepticism among automakers in regards to digital giants who they fear will "encroach their territory," whether in terms of offering self-driving vehicles meant to compete with their own models or using platforms such as Android Auto to gain an in-car foothold before moving on to selling digital services the OEMs themselves are offering.

The supposedly widespread belief may help explain recent reports suggesting the industry remains skeptical of Android Auto and reluctant to embrace it on a significant scale, with Mr. Tang pointing to that general state of affairs as the main reason why Telenav doesn't deem a scenario in which its offerings such as in-car navigation and advertising platform are in an immediate threat of being challenged by the likes of Google. The Santa Clara, California-based company still has a "respectable amount of fear" of the Silicon Valley that previously prompted it to revise its paid mobile navigation products such as Sprint Navigation and ATT Navigator following the debut of contemporary smartphones and Google Maps, the industry veteran said. Regardless, the very fact that tech companies are signaling their intentions of rivaling auto OEMs makes the industry much keener on continuing to work with firms like Telenav who they're familiar with, especially when it comes to in-car digital services, both emerging and established, Mr. Tang believes.

Ultimately, "it's not impossible" for someone like Google to eventually launch an in-vehicle advertising platform like the one Telenav announced in January but doing so would be fruitless without strong and widespread support from automobile manufacturers that Internet juggernauts currently lack; from a technological standpoint, "they [Google] can do anything in terms of software," but that doesn't mean they will because OEMs don't see them as partners who are fully committed to anyone's success but their own, the executive suggested. Telenav is still primarily a navigation company but sees its recently announced in-car advertising platform providing drivers with free services in exchange for targeted ads as a major growth opportunity going forward.

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