Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is almost everywhere because of its position as the world’s largest search engine on both PCs and portable devices, its Android OS that dominates the smartphone industry, and YouTube, the gigantic video website. Now, it has decided it can conquer the world of auto software. Who is to say it cannot happen, based on Google’s success across so many other businesses?
Google has already lined up powerful allies as part of its push. The new Open Automotive Alliance was launched Monday. In the announcement, the allies reported:
Extending the success of the Android ecosystem, which has seen over one billion devices activated to date, a coalition of auto and technology companies announced today a new industry alliance aimed at bringing the Android platform to a device that’s always been mobile: the car.
Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA have joined together to form the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), a global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014.The OAA is dedicated to a common platform that will drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone.
The OAA is aimed at accelerating auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customization and scale, key tenets that have already made Android a familiar part of millions of people’s lives. This open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way.
Notably, Google got General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), generally regarded as the world’s largest car company by unit sales, to join. Audi is the luxury brand of Volkswagen, which would like to take GM’s place. Nvidia Corp.’s (NASDAQ: NVDA) mobile chips are mainstays in many high-end smartphones. And it already has large market share in the PC sector.
All the members of the Open Automotive Alliance face one large barrier. Many consumers have rejected cars that bristle with advanced hardware and software. And glitches with current technology have become a problem. Ford wrestled with this recently when failures of its My Touch car technology undermined the quality ratings of the number two U.S. car company.
More and more cars will have Internet access and software that will help them drive and anticipate what might be accidents. Drivers will be able to stream video to passengers and use voice recognition to set speeds, park and eventually steer. The Open Automotive Alliance has as its goal the advancement of many of those features, mostly to Google’s benefit. But the hurdle to the aggressive steps may be that consumers will not want the by-products.