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General Motors makes a bad call

General Motors has been taking a lot of criticism and ridicule with their announcement this week that it’s planning to drop Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from its electric vehicles beginning in 2024. CarPlay and Android Auto allow you to use many of your phone apps while driving, including maps, music, and audio books. It’s one of the most popular features of new cars and is cited by many as the number one reason for buying a new car. In fact, Apple says 98% of new cars in the U.S. come with CarPlay installed and found that 79% of U.S. buyers would only buy a car if it supported CarPlay.

CarPlay and Android Auto built upon the popularity of smartphones and revolutionized the in-car GPS capabilites. Insteady of paying $2000 for the manufacturer’s GPS and paying hundreds to update the maps each year, Google Maps provides a much better experience for free, while always providing up to date information. You also could chose from other apps such as Waze. The beauty of CarPlay is that your car reflected what was on your phone so you could listen to your music and playlists, your podcasts. and your audio books, and never need to reconfigure your car seperately. So why would General Motors do this?

Its mostly greed. They see an opportunity to generate new revenue from apps, subscriptions, and services they will sell you using their own in-car system. And they will be able to track you and have the ability to share that information with advertisers. It much like what the cellular companies did before the iPhone came along where you paid exhorbitant fees for sending a photo, delivering a text message or making a call. They held you captive for what you could do with your phone. Now GM wants to do that with your car.

GM also would like to use their in dash system to do more than project your iPhone apps onto the screen. They’d like to have one common interface that manages many of your cars controls and functions.

“We believe a simple, seamless and built-in experience that integrates basic infotainment features with key vehicle systems is the best path forward,” GM spokesperson Anna Yu told Motor Authority. “Requiring our customers to navigate in and out of different solutions and go back and forth for different needs is not seamless.”

But it takes a lot of hubris to think they’ll be able to create a comparable user experience with the breadth and depth of what we have now. Auto companies have tried in the past and have failed miserably. Everyone wants to be an Apple but no company has succeeded and GM will not be the first.

Perhaps GM is looking at Tesla as their model. Tesla is one of the few companies that have created their own system, designed from the ground up. But they did it before CarPlay and Android Auto became so successful, and it’s now become one fo the most requested features from Tesla owners.

Reaction has been swift and negative, as in this response from

This is an incredibly lame and sucky decision for a number of different reasons. GM is essentially dropping CarPlay because it wants to find new ways to charge customers a recurring subscription and new ways to collect data on driving habits. It’s a bad decision that I think the company will ultimately regret.

Look at a company like Tesla, for example. Tesla also refuses to adopt Apple’s CarPlay platform, and it’s one of the commonly requested features by Tesla owners. And that’s despite the fact that Tesla has spent years refining its own in-car software experience.

Apple is about to launch a new version of CarPlay sometime later this year that features an all-new design to take over more of a car’s infotainment system, including gauge clusters and other data. I guess we can now add GM to the “no” column on this one.

My last three cars have been Chevy Volts. But my next car will not be a GM car if it doesn’t have CarPlay.