Apps for connected cars? Your mileage may vary

The state of automotive developer programs in 2014

March 2014

Apps for connected cars? Your mileage may vary

The state of automotive developer programs in 2014

March 2014

Car makers are now entering unfamiliar territory as some of their latest product innovations have nothing to do with driving. The basis of competition in the automotive industry is rapidly changing. Enter the age of connected cars.

Apps can keep cars in tune with customer’s digital lifestyle expectations: relevant, useful and above all safe. However, today’s experience of connected car apps is in no way comparable to the wealth of applications and innovation that smartphones have sprouted over the past six years. From a 3rd party car app developer’s perspective, the connected car is a minefield. Developers are faced by enormous fragmentation, small addressable markets and high friction in the distribution and monetization of their software.

The car app ecosystem is broken. In many ways it is broken much like mobile app market was in 2008. But there is hope. By leveraging the same strategies that created the smartphone revolution, car apps could be on a the brink of a major breakthrough. Can car makers apply the lessons from the mobile telecom industry to make it happen?

What does it take to develop apps for connected cars? How can car makers learn from telco mistakes when dealing with mobile disruption?

Read this report if you are…

An app developer, and you want to:

  • choose between 4 ways to develop car apps
  • learn how car apps are different from mobile apps and to be prepared for the obstacles you’ll face
  • decide on one of 3 routes to market and see where the biggest opportunity lies
  • understand where the car app market is headed, and which platforms are the most promising looking forward.

Working for a company in automotive market, and you want to:

  • learn from telco mistakes as mobile disruption hits the automotive industry
  • create new value to your products and gain a competitive advantage by fostering a viable developer ecosystem
  • figure out the best business models for 3rd party connected car apps

Key insights

  • Car apps in 2014 resemble mobile apps in 2008. What can car makers learn from the mistakes of telcos?
  • The automotive industry will only succeed with connected car apps when it adopts ecosystem business models and embraces developers.
  • Car apps are in the early stages of market development. The whole thing is up for grabs for smart platform players, like Apple and Google.
  • There are multiple ways to develop apps for connected cars and to take them to market. None of them is mature enough yet to create a viable app market.
  • Car app developers face enormous fragmentation, small addressable markets and high friction in the distribution and monetization of their software.

Table of contents

  • Chapter 1 - Car apps: the next big thing
  • Chapter 2 - Making sense of car apps
    • Apps on the head unit
    • Smartphone link
    • Remote access to the vehicle via an API
    • Access to vehicle data through OBD-II
    • Other initiatives worth mentioning
  • Chapter 3 - Routes to market for car developers
    • Partner with car makers
    • Apps with car maker SDKs - approval needed
    • Bypassing car makers with OBD-II
  • Chapter 4 - The state of the car app market
  • Chapter 5 - Developers in the driver’s seat: Success factors for car apps
    • How to boost demand for connected cars to unseen heights
    • What about driver distraction?
    • Removing roadblocks for developers
    • How app ecosystem adds to the car makers’ top line
  • Conclusion - The future of connected car apps
  • Appendix - A brief history of the smartphone industry


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