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Connected Car Apps Attract IoT Software Developers

Automobile manufacturers have embraced many of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and they're already working on numerous application prototypes with software developers. The vast majority of these apps will rely upon open APIs and the Mobile Internet to gain access to cloud-based services.

As an example, with autonomous driving inching closer, cars are incorporating digital user interfaces, in-car 4G LTE, and data analysis through a variety of cloud computing services.

ABI Research forecasts more than 143 million operating system (OS) solutions will ship in 2021 to support the software-defined car cockpits, or automotive head units that support cluster displays and in-vehicle infotainment.

Automotive Software Market Development

As the competitive landscape widens, both proprietary software and open source solutions providers -- including Google Android, Intel Wind River, and Blackberry QNX -- continue to battle for design wins.

"Increasingly, OEMs and software companies are collaborating directly to create automotive software solutions," says Susan Beardslee, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Alibaba and SAIC’s recent car demo using the Alipay system shows just how involved automobile OEMs now are in the sourcing and development of OS and software solutions. Some are developing expertise in-house to influence the software stack and provide greater leverage, brand value, user experience, and ultimately, value-added services.

A case in point: Google's Open Automotive Alliance has won over nearly 50 automotive OEMs, all of which joined a partnership promoting Android integration.

The GENIVI Alliance open source software architecture for infotainment includes a number of compliant solutions from automotive Tier 1s like Aisin, Continental, Delphi, Harman, Magneti Marelli, and Visteon. Qualcomm recently partnered with Google and unveiled plans for an Android Nougat-based car platform.

Though still in the developer preview stage, the open source solution is working its way deeper into the car, with potential body and information system support creating a new dynamic for software-defined models.

It will be Android's first turn-key platform, capable of common vehicle operations. Yet, though car OEMs like Audi, BMW, Kia, and Toyota Motor, currently use Google's Android Auto technology for search, map, and other functions, ABI Research predicts Android N will likely not appear in cars before 2020.

Outlook for New Connected Car Solutions

"The connected car solutions form a fragmented competitive landscape, with established players like QNX Green Hills and Mentor Graphics already well-positioned in this space," concludes Beardslee.

However, ABI analysts believe that there are security concerns with any open source solution, such as potential threats from hackers compromising mission-critical operations, like a car's brake or acceleration function.

As proprietary and open source solutions continue to compete for significant design wins, there will be a continual need for collaboration and business models conducive to the diversity of automotive customer needs and evolving use cases.

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