Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Controlled openness

Paul Leroux
The title of this post sounds like a contradiction in terms. But you know what? It captures the predicament faced by every automaker today.

On the one hand, automakers need to convince mobile developers that it's worthwhile to create apps for the car. They also need to make the process of creating and monetizing car apps as easy and open as possible. Otherwise, why would a developer spend time developing a car app when a phone app could reach many more customers? (About 60 million cars shipped in 2012, compared to more than 545 million smartphones — and most of those cars can't host apps.)

On the other hand, apps can't run willy-nilly in the car. For safety's sake, automakers must impose control on when specific apps can be used, and the apps themselves must be designed or modified to minimize distraction, possibly in accordance with government-mandated rules and guidelines. That may sound like an imposition on developers, but not really. After all, developers want to create apps that will prove popular with consumers, and consumers will be far more interested in apps that can be used while the car is moving — apps that, for safety reasons, can be used only when the car is stopped will hold less appeal.

But enough from me. Recently, my colleague Andy Gryc caught up with Thilo Koslowski, VP Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, and they discussed the notion of controlled openness for the car — along with how HTML5 fits into the picture. The cameras were rolling, so grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and check it out:

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