Automakers ‘Dashing’ for 3d Party Platforms

The fight for the dashboard is heating up as reports surfaced this week that two major automakers will ditch their current embedded software systems in favor of alternatives from Google and Apple.

Ford, which has dabbled with Apple’s CarPlay for two years even while using Microsoft Windows Embedded for its infotainment systems, drop Microsoft and migrate to an Apple-compatible platform, reports indicate.

Likewise, Hyundai is going all in on CarPlay and a competing system from Google called Android Auto.

There’s big money at stake. Automakers generate substantial profits on infotainment and related on-board gear: Ford bundles Sync with Sirius radio and other options in a package, priced at $1,250, which is purportedly nearly $1,000 higher than the OEM’s costs.

While the tools not only control today’s dashboard displays, they could be even more significant down the road as self-driving cars start to populate the roads, freeing vehicle occupants to do tasks once considered unthinkable in moving cars, such as shopping online.

So while the prospect of moving toward more interactive onboard systems holds promise and profits for the automakers themselves, major OEMs like Apple and Google stand to benefit from a captive audience inside the vehicle.

In the future, “keep your eyes on the road” may be replaced with “keep your eyes on the dash.”

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow