CES: BMW to Introduce Connected Car Store

Courtesy of BMW
BMW ConnectedDrive display

The service will allow drivers to purchase proprietary BMW apps while in their cars, part of a trend among luxury automakers to fend off Google's and Apple's incursions into their infotainment systems

With Google and Apple eager to colonize the connected-car experience, automakers are pushing back with proprietary systems of their own that manage mapping, music, phone calls and other information and entertainment options.

BMW announced that it will introduce a ConnectedDrive Store at CES International next month that will allow U.S. owners to purchase apps and other services from within their vehicles directly from BMW.

Among the apps to be offered when the store launches next spring are navigation updates and internet service, accessed through BMW’s LCD control display. A Siri-like concierge service will connect drivers to a live representative who can answer questions about nearby restaurants, gas stations and transmit directions directly to the car’s mapping software.

Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, which will allow smart phones and tablets running Android and i08 operating systems to be accessed through the car’s infotainment screen, could conceivably give both Google and Apple access to the trove of data about a car owner’s location, purchases and other personal information.

German auto manufacturers are particularly sensitive to intrusions by Google and Apple into their infotainment systems, which could compromise the supremacy of the country’s technologically advanced luxury segment, as the Chicago Tribune reported. “We mustn’t under any circumstances let our development become dependent on companies like Google,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said.

During a panel at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto show entitled “Barbarians at the Head Unit,” Jay Giraud, founder of Mojio, which manufactures a device that allows drivers to monitor a car's systems from a smartphone, said the battle to keep Apple and Google from usurping proprietary infotainment systems will be formidable.

“Consumers are intensely wedded to their smart phones,” Giraud said. “How do automakers give consumers what they want without losing brand identity? Frankly, I don’t have an answer for that.”

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