With the most recent acquisition, the worldwide-known manufacturer of automotive seating and electrical systems bets on factory-built service and commerce platforms against Android Auto and smartphone-based applications.
The deal between Xevo Inc. from Seattle and Lear Corp is expected to materialize in the second quarter of this yer. Together with previous acquisitions it’s safe to say that Lear is going for a big chunk of the digital shopping services market and vehicle data monetization. The South-field based company bought the cloud-based applications developer Autonet Mobile in 2015 and GPS-software maker EXO technologies in 2017.
It takes courage and confidence to challenge Google or Facebook, entities that may know more about the potential customers than their own spouses. Why would you find a diner, order a meal and pay for it on a built-in touchscreen when you have access to similar services through free apps on Google Play?
Indeed, the built-in screen is larger and more convenient to use, albeit it’s distracting just the same. Unless the person uses voice commands or someone on the passenger’s seat does the purchase for you, supposing he/she can access it.
The entire concept sounds more viable if we pair it with self-driving, but this is the area where the tech giants from Silicon Valley hold a huge advantage. Voice commands can find certain things – another area where Google has the lead – but browsing between hits and selection needs full attention of the driver.
The dilemma is not dissimilar to the situation where truck drivers rather use their own laptops and online Google Maps for navigation and searching. A 2018 survey tells that only a fraction of (19%) vehicle owners in the US use the factory-installed navigation software, which does not bode well for Lear.
Meanwhile, the tech giants won’t sit on their hands and will do everything to conquer and monetize the driving aspect of our lives as well. Android Auto or Apple’s CarPlay offers similar features. The Volvo’s Polestar 2 is coming with a Google software system.
Other automakers will do everything to keep out Google from their cars. General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler, which are otherwise members of the for-Android Open Automotive Alliance, stands with Xevo and Lear now. They state that 25 million cars are enabled with this software.