Like most other automakers, GM has been scrambling to compete for the attention of the connected customer by introducing an ambitious array of entertainment, information and lifestyle apps to be made available in its own AppShop. This has been widely promoted as the foundation for GM’s connected car program strategy. Now it appears that GM is handing over all app development not directly related to core driving functionality to Apple and Google.
This is a big turn of events and one that makes sense for automakers like GM. Think about the hundreds of apps delivering content such as music, podcasts, location-based services and more. Keeping these apps organized and updated on the AppShop would have been nearly impossible for a GM tech manager to handle. And app developers would need to guarantee compatibility with hundreds of thousands of Chevy vehicles for the next decade or so. Apple and Google already have the apps via CarPlay and Android Auto, respectively. And, since the apps are native to the smartphones drivers are already using, there’s no need for a separate data plan, as was the case with GM’s program.
This also significantly compresses GM’s connected car program development cycle, a huge competitive benefit. Yes, there are compromises to how many connected features will be available in the new program, but it puts GM squarely into the game and the timing could not be better.
The loser in this move? AT&T, who will not benefit from the enhanced data plan that drivers would have been required to purchase in order to gain access to the additional connected features. Consumers have always been wary of connected car programs that require additional expense on their part, and wireless carriers will not likely subsidize these programs in the future. With this announcement by GM, we might be seeing the future of connected infotainment program development – or lack thereof from OEMs.