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Alexa, Google Assistant Make Inroads In-Vehicle, Seeking Access To Data

An increasing number of OEMs plan to integrate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in-vehicle, according to ABI Research. The firm expects 20 million vehicles shipping in 2023 to allow one or more of these assistants, without consumers requiring a handset to use the technology.

“OEMs have realized that an increasing number of consumers may see value in being able to control their smart home devices in-vehicle and tap into their Apple, Amazon or Google ecosystem while on the move,” said Shiv Patel, a smart mobility and automotive analyst at ABI. “At the same time, these technology companies are looking to the automotive market as a new business vertical to expand their brand and extract valuable consumer data.”

Historically, OEMs have worked to develop their own branded assistants — typically in conjunction with voice technology suppliers — that can compete with tech-branded assistants. However, some OEMs (such as BMW and Audi) have opted to develop intermodal, multiple-assistant systems in which their own OEM-branded assistants sit alongside technology from Amazon or Google.

For BMW, the BMW Open Mobility Cloud will allow compatibility with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. And, tier-one supplier Harman is enabling OEMs to support both assistants simultaneously through its cloud platform, Harman Ignite. According to ABI, these approaches allow OEMs to meet consumers’ requirements of tapping into their growing ecosystems outside of automotive, while still maintaining some control over data and branding.

Other OEMs, the firm reports, have given up on voice control altogether and are providing a single-assistant system developed by Google.

Meanwhile, both Amazon and Google have announced partnerships that will see their voice assistants incorporated in vehicles, without the need for a handset.

Google has struck deals with Volvo and Nissan-Renault for a deep in-vehicle integration of Google Maps, the Google Play Store, Google Auto and Google Assistant. And, Amazon has announced a partnership with Audi that will see Amazon Alexa work alongside the OEM-branded Audi Assistant in 2019 production vehicles.

According to ABI, these embedded apps provide Amazon and Google with the opportunity to expand their brand in the automotive market as well as gain increased access to vehicle data. Amazon could use this in-vehicle opportunity for its e-commerce business, ABI points out, while Google could use the data to feed into new location-based advertising opportunities.

“Overall, these partnerships represent a significant step forward for Amazon and Google, as they could pave the way for them to eventually displace OEM-branded assistants in-vehicle altogether and be the sole voice assistant in the vehicle, extending their brand and providing access to new in-vehicle data,” Patel said. “Much will be dependent on what the OEMs and market incumbents, such as Nuance, can offer. However, over the short- to medium-term at least, consumers are likely to see an increasing number of vehicles that feature Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, even if it is sitting alongside an OEM-branded assistant.”

These findings are from ABI’s Next-Generation Infotainment report.

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