Ford, Toyota team up to standardize in-auto apps
- Ford and Toyota partnered to create the SmartDeviceLink Consortium, a non-profit dedicated to open-source software for smartphone app development for cars according to a joint press release. Other automaker members of the group include Mazda Motor Corporation, PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) and Suzuki Motor Corporation, as well as suppliers Elektrobit, Luxoft, and Xevo.
- The open-source platform's goal is to help automakers and suppliers through a uniform standard for integrating apps as well as developers because they can create one solution that can be used across all consortium participants.
- The SmartDeviceLink technology is based on Ford’s AppLink software which the automaker made open-source in 2013. That tech is already installed on more than 5 million autos around the globe and offers users access to apps including Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and AccuWeather.
Consumers are looking for in-vehicle access to smartphone apps via voice commands and dashboard displays. For marketers, in-auto apps are an opportunity to reach a relatively captive audience that should come with a unique set of first-party data, from the type of car accessing the app to precise geo-targeting information.
The ecosystem for providing in-car apps has been growing over the past few years, with a number of different options available, making it confusing for car owners, automakers and others. Ford and Toyota hope to simplify the space with their new consortium, but its success will be dependent on how many other automakers and suppliers sign on.
The consortium faces competition as other key partnerships are formed. Google and Fiat Chrysler recently teamed up for an open-source Android platform for the next generation of connected cars.
Developers could benefit from an open-source consortium by being focus on creating apps that they know will apply to a number of automakers rather than having to create an app and then tweak the coding to match specific flavors for different auto brands. Having an open-source standard should also increase the security and quality of apps that developers create.