Suddenly it’s not so important to own a car that’s “the ultimate driving machine,” as opposed to “the ultimate doughnut machine.” I drive my Honda Pilot instead of my Volvo XC90 whenever I can because the Honda can connect to my smartphone over Bluetooth, plus it has a great navigation system. My Volvo has neither — all it does is drive.
Car manufacturers have picked up on this trend, recognizing that our apps are increasingly important in our car-purchasing decisions.
Given how important in-car technology has become — and the sluggish pace at which it updates — more automobile manufacturers are turning to smartphones to drive innovation. While people swap out their cars infrequently, we change our smartphones every two years or so, making the smartphone ideal as a target for car-app innovation. John Ellis, head of Ford’s developer program, explains:
The only one that puts software on the head unit is Ford Motor Company. We don’t allow you access to the head unit but through a dedicated set of APIs. In our philosophy, the phone drives the head unit: the head unit is a display. Innovation is much faster on the phone than it could be on the head unit. Certainly for us, we’re very bullish on this model. People are starting to see that it just works.