31 car companies and counting. Apple is closing in on adding every major, or exotic, car manufacturer on the planet to their CarPlay solution. Third party makers such as Alpine and Pioneer are also making aftermarket CarPlay receivers. Kenwood said only months ago it really did not need CarPlay, but in early January at the Detroit Auto Show, Kenwood announced its forthcoming CarPlay decks, as did JVC. The four major aftermarket deck manufactures are now building for CarPlay.
High-end smartphone market share was clearly going to shape which platforms auto makers would support, and Apple is dominating the U.S. smartphone market. Today’s latest data revealed iPhone activations taking a 50% share in the U.S. alone, while Samsung lost ground to 26%. Car manufacturers clearly understood the absolute need to support CarPlay, as iPhone owners are in higher income bracket versus Android owners, and therefore have more disposable income to spend on vehicles with more features – which of course, must support their iPhones.
As for the competition? Only Android 5.0 Lollipop is Android Auto compatible, and only a few Android phones will be able to upgrade to the new OS. Making matters worse for Google's automotive adoption hopes, is only a scant few smartphones are shipping with Android 5.0. Google certainly stopped any fragmentation issues with their strict requirements, but they also crippled opportunity for customers to actually use their product...
Based on Google’s own data, as of early January, their own Developer Dashboard says that any version below 0.1% adoption will not be shown. While new and flashy, Android Lollipop is completely insignificant. At this point, the complete lack of Lollipop support makes Android Auto nothing more than a marketing play. Car manufacturers are riding along just so they say they have Google’s solution also, even though 99.99% of any potential buyers won't be able to use it unless they have a brand new high-end Android phone from Google, LG or Motorola.
At this point, Android Auto is nothing more than a strange form of shipping vaporware, attempting to compete against the strong reality of Apple’s CarPlay availability and flexibility. Anyone owning an iPhone 5 or newer can use CarPlay to its full capabilities. This means that over 250 million users world-wide can take immediate advantage of any vehicle shipping with CarPlay or by simply adding an aftermarket deck.
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