Most Automotive Infotainment Systems Will Run On Open-Source Genivi By 2015, Report Says

8/3/10

If you’re thinking about developing an app for use in automobiles, you might want to take a look at a new report released by the Genivi Alliance. The coalition of auto companies, suppliers, silicon providers, and software companies predicts its own open-source Genivi operating system will be running most in-vehicle infotainment systems by 2017. 

Genivi, based in San Ramon, CA, was launched a couple of years ago because of a perception in the automotive industry that the operating systems produced by the major software companies were not up to the task of running the increasingly numerous and sophisticated entertainment and navigation systems in cars, and were not developing them fast enough. The coalition is developing its Linux-like operating system to run in-car systems like satellite radio and navigation, and then connect them to users’ smartphones while locking out features that could distract drivers.

The report, released Monday, is based on interviews with 60 companies and was assembled with help from consultants iSuppli and Frost and Sullivan.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Genivi predicts that its own operating system will surpass Microsoft’s automotive OS and Linux as the OS of choice in automobiles by 2015. To some extent, this prediction could become a self-fulfilling prophesy since the Genivi alliance includes most of the major auto companies, operating system developers, and automotive suppliers. So while a report put out by Genivi predicting Genivi’s victory might seem suspiciously convenient, this could be considered a prediction not by an interested party within the industry, but by the industry, itself.

The system’s only weaknesses, the report says, involve lingering perceptions that open-source software presents problems when it comes to protecting proprietary technology. The Japanese market, the report predicts, will be slowest to adopt because of its particular “risk aversion toward open source.”

Among other predictions and observations in the report:

  • Microsoft will remain a major supplier until 2015, when Genivi will pass it. Microsoft’s strengths include an existing customer base like Ford’s SYNC system. But weaknesses include a perceived “lack of focus” on in-vehicle systems compared to its overall roadmap, lack of openness to the development community, and slow boot time.
  • It is too early to tell whether Google’s Android operating system will be successful in automotive infotainment systems and there’s a perception that “Google will do little, if anything, to configure the product for in-vehicle infotainment in their future roadmap.” The report has better hopes for Android only as a complimentary OS for supporting apps, especially navigation.
  • As for connectivity, SD cards and USB ports will be around for the foreseeable future, but 47 percent of respondents say that Bluetooth will be replaced with an alternative wireless technology—most likely WiFi—by 2017. And 90 percent believe the vehicle, itself, will become a WiFi hotspot. Also, the report says, most believe WiFi will replace Bluetooth as a standard for connecting your headset to your phone.
  • Everybody polled believes that it will be necessary for auto companies and suppliers to certify which apps are safe for driving, with some kind of software or physical silicon partitioning to make sure that dangerous apps are locked out while the car is being driven.

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