I’d wager that Audi Marketing in the U.S. is not too happy with the Google partnership right about now. Bold claim you say? Let’s talk about one piece of antidotal evidence that I can share with you and see what you think.
Software Ops offices are located in north Scottsdale, AZ. Scottsdale is a bubble of affluence. It is not a typical city in the US. Every third car on the road is an Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, Accura, Tesla or Cadillac. People here drive Bentleys, Ferraris, Maseratis and Lamborghinis. They all eat out at nice restaurants and they mostly all have iPhones. Their teenagers and adolescents have iPhones. iPhones rule. What I mean is that 8 out of the 10 people that I mentioned have iPhones. Even the youngsters. The wealthy in Scottsdale are already embedded into the Apple ecosystem.
I totally understand why Google wants to partner with Audi, but why would Audi go with Google? It’s like they are completely ignoring their already existing customer base. I could go so far as say they are disrespecting their customer base. It is a shame frankly.
Now, I drive a Lexus, but I still drool over the Audi driving down the street. I was going to give Audi a second shot on my next lease. But now they are off the list. Why? Because I’m fully invested in iOS and the Apple iTunes ecosystem. I will not be moving the to Google ecosystem. Will others be willing to move ecosystems? I can’t say, but many will not.
I accept of course, that the Audi system will work with my iPhone through standard Bluetooth interfaces and that is all fine and good. But how will a car with an iOS system work with my iPhone or iPad? I’m sure there will be a much more interesting interface than just a plain old Bluetooth connection. And that interaction will be key in the choice of a luxury car for me.
It may seem preposterous to make such a claim, but step back and consider why people choose between two competing entities in a free marketplace. They choose based upon the marginal utility of an offering that is most interesting to them. Some people pick a car for its color, it styling or its interior. In the new age of the Internet-of-Things, a car that already has all the cool luxury choices, all the horsepower I can use and is in the color I like, why would I not select based simply upon one of the most important subsystems in the car? I will and so will may others.
The question for me is this: will Lexus get on board with Apple and iOS? They better…. BMW already has.