wolfstreet.com / by Wolf Richter / December 24, 2014
Automakers dread the Googleization of their cars
“We’re unwrapping the best holiday gift we could’ve imagined,” Google gushed as it unveiled its “first real build” of a self-driving car. It’s still a prototype. But hey, the thing got headlights and all. And it self-drives. What Google paraded in front of the media in May was just a mockup without headlights.
And while the rest of us do whatever we do over the holidays, if any, the folks at Google will “be spending the holidays zipping around our test track,” and they hoping “to see you on the streets of Northern California in the new year.”
Google is unlikely to become an automaker. It’s an information-age company. Its business model is to sell ads and monetize the personal and very private information it collects incessantly in a myriad ways on everyone and everything. So it’s working on installing its operating system and associated services into the self-driving cars of other automakers. They’re all dabbling in it. They already have real cars. All they have to do is figure out the rest, like how to get grandma across town without running over any stray pedestrians.
But those cars won’t be ready for years. Our ambulance-chasers simply aren’t up to snuff yet on accidents involving self-driving cars. And law enforcement needs to figure out who gets the ticket. Meanwhile, Google is trying to get its Android data-gathering system integrated into regular cars, based on the foot-in-the-door principle.
Google, like arch-rival Apple, has been in bed with automakers for a while. A year ago, it announced that it is partnering with Audi to build an Android-based dashboard information and entertainment system. Six months earlier, Apple had announced that it was working with GM, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Honda on an iOS-based dashboard system. For these systems to work, the user needs to plug in a smartphone.
But Google’s next-generation operating system, Android M, will run on the car’s processors and go far beyond the dashboard systems…