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BMW fighting to retain the 'value layer'

At the time of writing it is half an hour before Apple Inc is due to present its latest innovations in the mobile technology space - that will no doubt relate in some way or other to use within the car because that's what drivers are choosing to do. 

The always fascinating Asymcar podcast, presented by mobile technology business commentator Horace Dediu offered some astute insights into the drivers of current developments of the human interface for the car - and how it is coming to be more and more aligned to the interface for other locations in our lives - facing the screen of an iOS, Android or similar mobile device.

In Horace Dediu's predicted scenario the mobile device that we choose to carry around will, by default, impose an information layer on top of the other layers of the car - as the OEMs will (in his view inevitably) loose out to the consumers' preferred solutions for entertainment, navigation and other applications.

The OEMs would prefer to to retain control their own driver displays, as well as have their own navigation displays in the car but Dediu think their will loose that control because of the ability software developers on iOS and Android etc. to learn and evolve quickly, far faster than is possible by OEMs on exclusive proprietary platforms.

The funny thing I noticed with the BMWi3 on disp[lay at LCV 2013 last week though is the dashboard actually looks almost identical to a phone display and iPad alongside it in the centre console - except you can't take it out of the car.

BMW were noticeably absent from list of car makers that had so far agreed to be involved with iOS in the car previewed at Apple's last Keynote in June.

I spoke to BMW's representative on their stand at LCV 2013, who didn't wish to agree there was a competition between car and mobile user interfaces - despite the obvious flattery by imitation and the almost ubiquitous usurping you see on the road where smartphones are placed in line of sight by almost every driver.

I'm tempted to agree with Horace Dediu but in practice Apple Maps (for instance) is still deficient for navigation - even if not very user-friendly and polished. 

Here's one example where Apple Maps didn't foresee my journey to LCV last week would have an insurmountable obstacle....

I also had to wait for a couple of combine harvester as I re-routed (by map) round this road closure - plus I was only taken on that scenic route as Apple Maps took me off the M1 a junction too early for Millbrook!

I still prefer the actorly voice of Apple's navigation to the shrill US call-center voice of Google Maps however.

The BMW line seems to be that their drivers will always prefer BMW's interfaces, and there would always be security reasons why they would want to retain control.

A possible issue that has recently emerged that could have a bearing for the safety and appeal of the connected car is the reported efforts of security agencies to sabotage encryption technologies that are vital for data security - and perhaps personal security in future.

The issue as far as Horace sees it is where the 'value layer' is , which is likely the real reason for the likes of BMW not partnering with the likes of Apple or Google.

But what happens, he speculates if Google might require OEMs to fit sensors required to steer cars to the shopping malls where goods are for sale by Google's advertisers - much like what happens when you're lucky enough to ride the route unexpecedly including rug outlets decided on commercial grounds by a Delhi taxi driver.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show currently underway, numerous car interface technologies were announced by the likes of Tom Tom, Nokia and Ford.

Anyway, let the speculation continue even if there is any news on progress of iOS in the car at Apple's Keynote.

No live stream seems available from Apple so I'm watching Twit.tv ...

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