Harman International revealed to Automotive News that it won a $900 million contract from GM to build a next-gen infotainment system with Google’s Android OS at its core. Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles are first in line for the new infotainment system, which will eventually spread through GM’s global lineup.
With more than a billion mobile and tablet devices using the Android OS, it’s quickly become one of the most diverse and popular operating systems on the market. It’s a no-brainer move for GM, especially with the Android Auto platform announced earlier this year to facilitate Google’s push into the automotive market. Harman is part of the Google-led Open Automotive Alliance, and is working closely with the Internet giant to make sure the infotainment system is ready for a late-2016 launch. What isn’t apparent though is just how many GM vehicles will get the new Android OS.
The General currently uses at least three different automotive computer operating systems, even within the same brand; the new Chevy Malibu uses the Blackberry QNX system, while the Chevy Sonic and Spark uses an older Microsoft OS, and the Impala sedan runs a Linux system. It would make sense for GM to move to one OS across its lineup, but GM doesn’t always do things that “make sense”, and for now the automaker is remaining mum on its plans.
While GM almost certainly in the Android camp, Volvo has committed to the Apple CarPlay OS, and Ford is said to be looking into an OS change for its aging SYNC system. GM had been working towards its own infotainment system called the AppShop introduced earlier this year, but by July GM abandoned its own plans on the heels of the introduction of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Will Google come to dominate the automotive OS field the same way it dominates web traffic search, or can Apple, Blackberry, or even Microsoft mount an effective counterattack? Having one of the world’s largest automakers in its corner gives Android a huge advantage, but the war is far from over.