Carmakers Won't Provide Data To Apple, Google

Carmakers such as Ford and Volkswagen are keen to limit tech companies' access to consumer data, despite allowing drivers to use their apps.

Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer

July 11, 2015

3 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: adrian825/iStockphoto)</p>

New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech

New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech

New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech (Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

With in-car technologies that connect consumers to the Web gaining traction, major carmakers are telling technology titans like Google and Apple that the data they harvest from drivers won't be shared.

Automakers from General Motors (GM) to Volkswagen plan to withhold that data in the hopes of turning that information into revenue themselves, according to a July 10 report in Reuters.

The report also highlighted a report that brings into focus the scale of the potential windfall from this data gathering -- consultancy firm AlixPartners projected global revenues from digitally connected cars would jump to $40 billion a year by 2018, up from $16 billion in 2013.

With so much revenue at stake, and automakers struggling to turn their industry back to a time of major profits, it's easy to see why old-school companies are clashing with younger, tech-centric firms for control of valuable user data. The car companies need the technology to make their vehicles more appealing, while tech firms are seeking new platforms for their software.

"We need to control access to that data," Don Butler, Ford Motor Company's executive director of connected vehicle and services, told the news service.

Butler explained the company needs to protect its ability to create value from the data gathered from car owners.

Available on select cars, Apple's CarPlay app features Siri voice control and is specially designed for driving scenarios and also works with the car's controls, be they knobs, buttons, or touchscreen.

Apple Maps has also been tweaked for a car's dashboard, offering turn‑by‑turn directions, traffic conditions, and estimated travel time.

CarPlay can also predict where the driver will most likely want to go using addresses from email, text messages, contacts, and calendars.

"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," Apple said in a statement to Reuters. "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."

Android Auto, designed to work with Android smartphones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher, was also designed to minimize driver distraction, with an intuitive interface featuring integrated steering wheel controls and voice commands.

The platform is available for a wide range of automotive brands worldwide, including Audi and Ford, and it is currently available in 11 different countries.

[Read more about Google's recent driverless car tests in Austin.]

Automakers like Ford are currently developing their own proprietary systems, which can work in tandem with third-part applications like CarPlay and Auto.

Ford's platform, called SYNC, lets driver use voice technology to make a call, listen to music and select apps with SYNC AppLink, and is available on almost a dozen different vehicles.

Drivers are twice as likely to choose a car based on in-vehicle technology options rather than its performance, according to a December 2013 study from Accenture of drivers worldwide.

Aside from infotainment options, the likes of which Apple and Google are currently focused on, the research uncovered strong interest among consumers in vehicle health reports and vehicle lifecycle management services, especially among car owners in emerging markets.

About the Author(s)

Nathan Eddy

Freelance Writer

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.

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