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Android Automotive takes center stage as 2nd largest automaker signs on

18 September 2018 Colin Bird-Martinez

Today's announcement of Android Automotive coming to the future infotainment systems of Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi vehicles further cements the solution as a strong contender in this space. The Franco-Japanese automotive group is the second largest vehicle manufacturer in the world, with a more than 10% market share.

In May of 2017, Google announced Android Automotive. The difference between Android Automotive and "Generic Android" is that Android Automotive is directly supported by Google, and will include features such as the Google Play Store, Google Assistant, and Google Maps and feature other Google proprietary apps and APIs. Apps available on the automotive-centric Google Play store for Android Automotive will include iHeartRadio, Pandora, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Telegram, WhatsApp, Android Messages, Google Play Books, and Google Play Music, with more to come. Automakers will be allowed to 're-skin' the graphical interface of the operating system as to not lose individual branding of the HMI, like how Samsung and HTC phones have their own unique interfaces, for instance.

With a large potential library of apps, hardware support, security support, continuous research and development, customer care support and maintenance, Android Automotive will be a formidable challenger in the automotive space. While OEMs continue to try and build in-vehicle app ecosystems, there is an open-sourced environment, optimized for the car, where OEMs can save time and money to deploy.

OEMs will lose some of the UX ownership, but gain, ironically, a satisfying UX correlated with the car brand, similar to Android's perception in smartphone markets. This implementation will still whittle away vehicle brand loyalty, but in a future shared use case, the brand can make up for it with a premium service experience.

This new embedded operating system will debut on Volvo and Audi vehicles by 2020 in select regions, such as the US and Western Europe. Volvo, Audi, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, and another large automaker, will offer Android Automotive on some of their infotainment head units in the next two to three years.

Like Android Auto, Android Automotive is not expected to be available in the Chinese market as services such as Gmail, Google.com, YouTube, and the Google Play store aren't available, making the relevancy of Android Automotive in the Chinese market moot.

IHS Markit previously forecasted that approximately 11 million vehicles globally would have Android Automotive by 2024. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance announcement boosts that number by approximately another 1 million units, to 12 million units over the next six years. IHS Markit expects Generic Android to remain the dominate player in the infotainment space over the same time, with Android Automotive comprising only 16 percent of total Android volumes in the 2024 sales year.

Posted 18 September 2018 by Colin Bird-Martinez, Senior Analyst, Automotive Software, Apps and Services at IHS Automotive

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