The introduction of iOS 7 dominated the discussion of
) 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference, but another announcement
the company made that was just as significant was that of car
Come 2014, the Cupertino, California-based company said at WWDC,
Apple lovers will be able to get their hands on car-specific
versions of iOS on the dashboards of up to a dozen automakers.
Through the voice-activated Siri, drivers will be able to access
features like voice calling, Apple Maps, iMessages, and music.
Automotive partners who are on board with the "iOS in the car"
), and Opel (a GM brand not sold in the US), though it's unclear
which specific models will come with iOS integration.
Apple's car connectivity announcement at WWDC took up a mere 90
seconds, and with details hard to come by for now, dozens of
questions quickly emerged afterward: What will happen to car
companies who resist the siren song of Apple? Does this
announcement spell the doom of auto companies' independent
infotainment systems? Can Apple Maps be trusted to navigate roads?
Will "iOS in the car" become a new growth avenue for Apple?
So far, major auto companies that have not signed on with Apple
Toyota Motor Corporation
(ETR:BMW), too, has stated that it is still deciding whether or not
to integrate iOS into the dashboards of its vehicles.
But Brian Geisel, the CEO of
, a developer of mobile, Web, and embedded applications, thinks
that even though they might resist now, the popularity of Apple
could eventually compel automakers to partner with Apple or other
major tech companies.
"I think we will eventually see a convergence in the market to one
or a few competing operating systems, whether that's Apple's iOS,
(GOOG) Android, or another competitor. We always see industries
eventually converge on just a small number of competitors," said
Similarly, Bill Howard at
opined, "Longer term, iOS 7 and a reinvigorated Siri could be a bad
sign for automakers."
"It could mean the automakers are admitting they just can't keep up
with mobile infotainment technology and they'll return to the nuts
and bolts of car-building: safety, efficiency, comfort," he added.
Apple's new venture also presents a new threat to companies whose
businesses revolve around the driving experience. It's unclear now
if Apple will allow drivers access only to its proprietary Apple
Maps - the decision it makes will have a big influence on the
futures of GPS device makers like
"If Apple pushes for proprietary systems, then the Apple Maps
problem could be a huge barrier for the success of 'iOS in the
car,'" opines Geisel. "However, if they continue with the app
model, it could provide better access to manufactures like TomTom
and Garmin for better integrating their own systems into these
Sirius XM Radio Inc
(SIRI) stock holders, Apple's car connectivity announcement must
also have triggered a slight panic.
"With the rise of 4G and LTE data networks, the integration of iOS
could definitely be an issue for a network like Sirius XM. Apple's
addition of iTunes Radio definitely offers strong competition in
that market," comments Geisel.
Other iPhone apps like
(P), MOG, Spotify, and iHeartRadio could also weaken the position
of satellite radio and Sirius XM.
That said, there are still large swaths of the US where wireless
data services are not available, and where satellite radio is the
only option if you do not want to listen to terrestrial radio.
Also, Sirius XM bulls will assert that the company's strength is in
its unique content - drivers want more than just jukeboxes, as
proven by the popularity of top Sirius celebrity brands like Howard
Stern and Glenn Beck.
As for Apple itself, even if "iOS in the car" becomes the dominant
system in the industry, don't expect it to provide a substantial
boost to the tech giant's bottom line. As Asymco's Horace Dediu
, people buy iPhones and iPads at far greater numbers than they do
In 2011, Dediu calculated, the confirmed Apple auto partners
produced some 30 million vehicles, which is about 50% of total
global production. Even if iOS is integrated into 10 million of
those vehicles, "total revenue from licensing the 'Made for iPhone'
trademark to automakers [still] won't be significant," wrote Dediu.
Perhaps that is why Apple only dedicated 90 seconds to "iOS in the
car" at WWDC.
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