Google vs. Apple: Next Battleground … Cars. Open Alliance or iOS in the Car?

android in carWho doesn’t love CES Las Vegas? Every year there are interesting announcements and CES 2014 is no different. This time I’m not talking about Smartwatches, Devices or weird geeky high-tech stuff. The most interesting news for me was Google’s announcement of the Open Alliance – a project to integrate cars and Android OS.

Connected Car: the next OS battleground?

OS in a car? Haven’t we heard it before? Yes indeed – back in June 2013 Apple announced it was working with car manufacturers with a project called ”iOS in the car” to integrate cars and iOS. Great stuff. Now let’s mix it up a bit: Ford happens to be using Microsoft technology in their Sync system and Mercedes has QNX by Blackberry.

It looks like Google and Apple are spreading their OS dominance war in cars, and the first connected cars – iOS as well as Android – are expected to arrive by the end of this year. But what makes this very interesting is the fact that car manufacturers haven’t really committed for a specific OS yet, with Honda and Hyundai openly signing up for Apple’s iOS in the car as well as Google’s Open Alliance.

So which OS car manufacturers should go for? Let’s have a look at the mobile statistics first.

Android dominates Europe and China, Windows Phone grows in Emerging Markets

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, in September 2013 Android continued its OS dominance in Europe with 71.9%, while Windows Phone accounted for one of 10 smartphone sales across the big five European markets, overtaking iOS in Italy. What comes to UK, the battle of the OS is a bit more equal, with Android holding the top position with 58.4%, Apple’s iOS accounting for 27%, and Windows Phone munching its way to 11.4% of the market.

Now this is where the data becomes even more interesting: The latter OS – mainly thanks to Nokia – has shown strong growth in Russia, emerging markets in Europe as well as in Latin America. In Latin America Nokia has a strong presence and brand recognition even if its popularity decreased in the past few years due to death of Symbian OS. However, with its budget Lumia 520 Nokia is grawling back to the top of the chart, as most of the consumers are upgrading their old Nokia phone to the newer model.

In China Android has a very strong foothold with 81.1% of the market, but not because they are going for the cheap. Actually, Chinese consumers are prepared to invest a lot in their Smartphone and are expecting a great value for their money. The local brands are getting better and better and this is why most of the Chinese consumers are choosing a local Android Smartphone with high specs and good quality – such as Huawei, Lenovo, Coolpad or Xiaomi – instead of an entry-level global brand with lower specs.

IOS in the Car or Open Alliance?

Looking at the statistics, the choice seems quite obvious. However, there are strong differences between iOS and Android consumer behaviour, and what should not be forgotten is that iOS consumer is more likely to spend more money – also on their car. In addition, Microsoft might very well announce something similar this year.

Then again … buying a car is a far bigger commitment than buying a Smartphone, and forcing consumers to commit to a specific OS when they are purchasing a car might affect negatively in their purchase decision. First of all, a family car is used by more than one person and most likely there are at least two different OS per family. Secondly, can you really imagine a pure Android fan buying a car with iOS onboard … even if he loves the car brand?

Personally, the best strategy would be not to commit to only one OS, but find a way – or technology – to support all three OS in the car, leaving the choice for the consumer himself. In the end, connected car should enhance the driving experience, whether it has iOS or Android – or Windows – onboard, and if consumers do not commit to one specific OS, why should the car manufacturers do so?

Interesting times, looking forward to seeing which OS manages to be “in the car” first.


Pauliina Jamsa

I am Pauliina Jamsa, a digitally disruptive marketing rock star with International business experience hard to beat - I have lived in 5 countries and speak 7 languages. Based in London, I am currently working as Global Senior Online Marketing Manager at Siemens. Remember these are my own opinions only. Thank you for checking out my blog, feel free to get in touch! Twitter: @pauliinajamsa LinkedIn:

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