Automotive Infotainment @ CES

One of the big themes of both MWC and CES this year is the development of technologies for the automotive industry, and while self-driving cars are still a little way down the road, both shows have allowed OEMs to showcase various proprietary solutions.

There are two main challenges facing car makers as the technology continues to develop. Firstly, how to keep their differentiation with OEM software when this hinders scale, and therefore cost; and secondly, how to not standardise so much that control of the digital infotainment ends up with one of the behemoths of the tech world, notably Google, and their Android Auto platform.

To take the differentiation point first. From a business viewpoint, car makers have spent many years, decades in fact, carefully crafting and building their brands, and it’s fair to say that automotive, and cars in particular, are heavily brand led. It is too simplistic to say, “think of the car as a giant smartphone”. A car, or even a truck or lorry is so much more than this, and this makes it hard for any automotive manufacturer to cede control of the digital infotainment part of the user experience.

Yet this choice is nuanced, it is likely that there will be some commoditisation of the infotainment software, and Mobica have been leading the way on both the approach to this and to the desire from customers to maintain their point of difference. Judging from the list of global automotive band using Mobica, this approach is working.

The nuance comes in the strategic decision as to where to commoditise and where to differentiate.

This plays into the second point, and some automotive manufacturers are already making their decisions. The Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi alliance already decided back in September to “join forces in Next Generation infotainment” with Google. A deal which according to at least one analystwill see it give up 70% of its potential digital revenue and all of its digital differentiation.” This means in effect these car makers will have to focus their differentiation development elsewhere in their package.

Mobica sees this approach as just one route open to car makers, rather than being inevitable, and as our expertise spans both routes, we’re genuinely agnostic as to the Google versus proprietary debate. Our automotive clients value both our impartial advice and deep expertise on the subject, offering clear thinking above the noise and clutter of this year’s CES conference halls.

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