Car buyers are showing an increased preference for vehicles that have in-car human machine interfaces (HMI), with solutions offered by tech companies being more popular than the on-board systems installed at the factory, according to a study from researcher Strategy Analytics. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Baidu CarLife are a "must-have" for prospective car buyers, the study found.
Interest in mirroring systems is strong in all regions, with a preference shown for Android Auto in the U.S. and Apple CarPlay in Western Europe and China. Once consumers have these mirroring solutions, they are often used to the exclusion of embedded systems, the study found.
Derek Viita, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said its research suggests consumers are ready to adopt CarPlay and Android Auto for infotainment, which is negative for embedded navigation suppliers and OEMs that want to sell upgraded navigation systems.
Smartphone users show strong attachment to their wireless devices and are generally seeking an on-board entertainment and navigation system that is easy to use with the technology they already own. Just as navigation apps on smartphones undermined the demand for specialized GPS devices, embedded infotainment systems will face an uphill battle in trying to engage consumers who may be unwilling to learn how to use a new technology or to migrate their music playlists and contacts to a car’s system.
Automakers, after pouring a lot of effort into these embedded systems, may be starting to realize their challenges here. Increasingly, these business are investing in tech startups and focusing on driverless or ride-sharing options to ensure they aren't left behind by the move to digital technology.
As the study found, consumers are relying on connected apps in the car because of frustrations with embedded systems. Smartphone systems don’t face major obstacles to boosting their popularity among drivers, which means a simple awareness campaign may be the easiest strategy to promote their usage.
Technology companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are willing to invest billions of dollars in supporting their platforms, which means carmakers will face increasing difficulty in mustering the research and development dollars needed to keep up. That’s especially true in the realm of voice-command technology that is growing more sophisticated. The technology will create more opportunities for marketers that traditionally have faced obstacles in reaching consumers while they drive.