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USA Today: Apple's Move Into Cars — A Threat to Automakers?

By Michelle Smith   |   Monday, 17 Jun 2013 09:13 AM

Apple introduced the new iOS 7, but its plans to connect that operating system in cars will force automakers to decide whether the tech giant is a friend or foe, says USA Today.

The announcement of the integration of iOS 7 in cars at the World Wide Developers Conference was just a blip, consuming about 90 seconds, according to Minyanville.

With iOS 7 in vehicles, Siri, Apple's voice activated system, is set to allow drivers to make calls, send messages and access music and Apple Maps.

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Initially, this seems to be just another development in a world adapting to Apple-centric lifestyles. But analysts warn if automakers aren't careful, dealing with Apple could be a game changer.

One area of concern is the implications for automakers' control over their infotainment systems.

Now, companies have a grasp on their systems, which allow them to control which applications are used. If Apple or any other tech companies create and integrate operating systems, that could change, analysts warn.

Furthermore, giving drivers access to iTunes, the upcoming iRadio and the universe of music and map apps may mean automakers give up streams of income on services that they could produce and sell, USA Today explains.

Analysts also warn there could be ripple effects that threaten other companies that bank on motorists, such as satellite radio and GPS device makers.

"Longer term, iOS 7 and a reinvigorated Siri could be a bad sign for automakers," Bill Howard of Extreme Tech told Minyanville. "It could mean the automakers are admitting they just can't keep up with mobile infotainment technology and they'll return to the nuts and bolts of car building: safety, efficiency, comfort."

Apple reportedly has a dozen automakers that are in discussions for integration, including Honda, Mercedes, Kia and Chevrolet, though it is not clear which of their models will offer the feature, Minyanville reported.

BMW decided to include an Apple interface in all of its 2014 models, but on its own terms, according to USA Today. BMW has "carefully limited" what drivers can do through the infotainment systems in linking with Apple, spokesman Dave Buchko said.

GM has also shown some reservation in dealing with Apple. The company already has an Apple interface in its Chevrolet Spark mini-car and Sonic subcompact, USA Today noted, but for more upscale models, GM is developing its own system.

Toyota and Ford are two majors who are notably absent from Apple's auto integration club.

A company's take on Apple's move into vehicles depends on "what the automaker is trying to accomplish," Thilo Koslowski, vice president of automotive for consulting group Gartner told USA Today. "To be a leader or a follower."

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