Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, says he’s open to cooperating with tech companies like Google and Apple on the next generation of connected cars. Car companies have historically had a difficult time developing in-house operating systems that live up to the standards set by tablets, smart phones and other devices, and that consumers expect. Understandably, they’ve also been reluctant to cede control of their products to outside companies, but rhetoric like this from Zetsche and others within the industry mean this philosophy is changing.

"Google and Apple want to provide system software for cars and bring this entire ecosystem around Apple and Google into the vehicle," Zetsche told German publication Deutsche Unternehmerboerse. "That can be interesting for both sides."

But, ‘cooperation’ is the operational word here. Zetsche is willing to work with tech giants outside the car industry, but will not be outsourcing software development to Silicon Valley. "We don’t want to become contractors who have no direct content with customers any more and supply hardware to third parties," he continued.

Zetsche’s comments come shortly after Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn urged more cooperation between tech and car companies, and the recent acquisition of Nokia’s HERE digital mapping service by the BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi trifecta.

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Why it matters

Car companies have fallen short of providing customers with the kind of features and usability they want in infotainment systems. Moreover, customers also expect their cars to have the same seamless integration they already enjoy with their other personal electronic devices. With autonomous car technology on the horizon and an increased reliance on software, improved integration and usability will be vital.

Ford and Microsoft collaborated on SYNC with varying degrees of success, but expect more car companies to start signing similar exclusive agreements with tech companies within the next few years. These partnerships will yield next-generation operating systems based on existing systems like Apple CarPlay, Google Open Automotive and Windows Automotive.

Source: Automotive News

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