If you’re in the automotive industry, you have to hand it to Toyota. They’re either the smartest car company on the planet or the dumbest.
That’s because they’re the only major automaker taking a pass on both the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto dashboard ecosystems. As the largest car company in the world, their decision is worthy of our attention.
In a commentary in PC Mag auto writer Doug Newcomb gives props to Toyota for having the stones to snub both tech companies in favor of their proprietary in-dash system. As an alternative, Newcomb reports Toyota recently announced a connectivity plan being developed by their own in-house group, the cleverly named Connected Car Company.
Toyota has also struck deals with other tech providers (but not Apple or Google), as well as adopting Ford’s SmartDeviceLink for third-party app development. (That’s the platform our app company, jacapps, develops for in both Ford and now Toyota vehicles.)
So, is Toyota smart to go their own way or will they be left out in the cold by their decision to eschew Apple and Google in-dash technology? Newcomb suggests they could emerge as the winner by adopting a “wait-and-see” approach.
But a deeper look into the comments that follow his commentary points to showroom turbulence for Toyota. Here’s a sampling from some consumers who are pushing back against the Toyota decision. These comments are pretty indicative of what most had to say about both Apple and Android missing from the Toyota line of vehicles. And if you think this is just an automotive conundrum, far removed from radio, think again. Many radio companies wrestle with similar issues as they consider joining ranks with iHeartRadio. On the one hand, they can develop their own apps, apart from the iHeart ecosystem. But over time, the iHeartRadio brand has been well-promoted, and is ubiquitous on dashboards and other platforms. That puts many broadcasters in a dilemma as to whether they want to be a part of a competitor's brand that is gaining in popularity, visibility, and awareness over time.
In many ways, Toyota is struggling with some of the same questions that many broadcasters grapple over with iHeart – a loss of branding, data ownership, confusion, and other myriad issues. But the flip side is that eschewing systems like Apple's and Google's might translate to consumer rejection as evidenced by the above comments. These alliances are a series of trade-offs that need to be carefully weighed by brand managers and corporate decision-makers.
As the biggest players in radio, streaming, mobile, and automotive duke it out for prominence and dominance, it forces everyone to make some tough decisions about who to hop in bed with – and who to reject.
Toyota has taken its stance. What can broadcasters learn from their decision?
If you're interested in having your station app adapted for SmartDeviceLink, Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto, contact jacapps' Bob Kernen here.