Amazon wants to challenge CarPlay and Android Auto

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Connect the Amazon Echo Dot to your existing speaker system, and you bingo! -- your speakers just got smarts.
Amazon wants to move Alexa from the home into our cars.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Amazon is trying to move in on Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto by convincing carmakers to bake in Alexa as an in-car infotainment technology.

According to a new report, Amazon is scaling up its Echo Auto ambitions. It has already convinced BMW and Audi to adopt the tech. It is now supposedly trying to get other automakers to sign up as well.

“Amazon wants to get into the car in a big way,” Mike Ramsey, a senior research director at Gartner who tracks the auto industry, told Bloomberg. “They sense that there is a big opportunity.”

Recently, Ned Curic, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa Automotive, said that: “The real North Star for us is to be embedded with all the cars. “We’re working very hard to get there because we believe that is the best experience.”

In-car infotainment systems is an an area that Amazon has been pursuing for some time. In 2016, Amazon debuted the first experimental usage of Alexa in a car. That year, Hyundai introduced the ability for users to start their vehicles or set climate control with an Alexa device. Now, Amazon is doubling-down on these ambitions.

A big challenge for Amazon is its lack of a successful smartphone. The Fire Phone was a bust when it launched. Amazon has yet to try again in this market. CarPlay and Android Auto, meanwhile, both tie into widely available smartphone operating systems. Bloomberg writes:

“Amazon has tried to assuage carmakers worried about Google or Apple’s potential automotive ambitions by suggesting Alexa could be one among several voice assistants embedded in a future entertainment system, according to two people who have heard the pitch, but aren’t authorized to publicly discuss it.”

Getting a piece of the automotive market

This isn’t the first time that Amazon has taken on Google and Apple. Its music streaming service, while nowhere near the level of Apple Music or market leader Spotify, has made enormous gains. Amazon is also dominating smart speakers; building on a technology Apple arguably helped to invent.

Right now, Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto are fast on their way to becoming standard for new vehicles. Having already taken over our homes with the Echo, it’s no wonder that Amazon would want a piece of that market too.

Will it manage to do so? We’ll have to wait and see. But Amazon isn’t the kind of company you want to bet against.

Which in-car infotainment system do you use? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Bloomberg