Ford to Use Google's Android System in Most Cars -- 2nd Update
By Mike Colias
Ford Motor Co. plans to use Google's Android operating system to
power its vehicle display screens starting in 2023, the latest auto
maker to tap Silicon Valley amid the accelerating digitization of
the car business.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based car company said Monday it has entered
into a six-year agreement with the tech giant to embed Google's
suite of apps, including voice commands and navigation, in
multimedia displays on all Ford models outside of China.
Ford also plans to involve Alphabet Inc.'s Google for cloud
services to help the auto maker develop in-car features and manage
the reams of data streaming from its vehicles. The computing
service will also be used to organize production.
Terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.
Silicon Valley firms are pushing further into the auto business,
eager to capitalize on the growth prospects of the car's evolution
as a rolling personal device. Tech companies now provide core
operating systems to run in-vehicle multimedia systems, while also
providing cloud-based service to store and manage the proliferation
of data produced by cars, many of which now are sold with broadband
Ford's eventual move to Google's Android system will be a hit to
BlackBerry Ltd., which for years has provided its QNX operating
system for Ford's vehicles. BlackBerry didn't immediately respond
to a request for comment.
Other auto makers, including Volvo Cars and Ford rival General
Motors Co., have in recent years chosen Google's Android system to
deliver navigation, voice commands and other services in its
Google, the No. 3 cloud provider in the U.S., has been stepping
up its efforts to overtake its rivals.
The car industry is one of several markets where Google,
Microsoft Corp, and Amazon.com Inc. are aggressively pushing their
cloud-computing business, in which they rent server capacity and
software tools to customers.
Microsoft has already struck deals to provide its Azure cloud
service to some of the world's largest car companies, including GM
and Volkswagen AG. Amazon's AWS cloud business works with Toyota
Motor Corp. and other auto makers.
The increasing role of technology in cars also is becoming a
source of friction between car makers and tech companies in the
battle to capture the potential billions of dollars from ads and
services that could flow through such systems.
Ford said it will use Google's cloud services for everything
from flagging potential new service offerings to managing equipment
on the factory floor and streamlining supply chains. The companies
said they will jointly staff a group to work on collaborative
The Google agreement comes after Ford has created its own
facilities in Michigan to store and process data, including a $200
million investment disclosed in 2017. Those data centers will
continue to operate, a Ford spokeswoman said.
Inside the car, both Google and Apple Inc. have for years been
offering dashboard features that mimic the look and feel of their
ubiquitous operating systems. Apple also has been working
secretively on its own car project for many years. Amazon's Alexa
personal assistant is featured across many models.
While most car makers offer so-called mirroring software to
replicate the Android or Apple interfaces on the car's display,
those features require drivers to connect their smartphones to the
vehicle. Ford, GM and others are now working with Google to offer
Android as built-in software, a move that allows owners to download
apps directly to their vehicle's tabletlike display, said Sam
Abuelsamid, an analyst at consultancy Guidehouse Insights.
Auto makers are mobilizing to offer in-car services to customers
that would allow the companies to collect recurring revenue streams
and update features on the fly, from automated-driving features to
new apps. They also are using data from vehicles to develop
features for future models.
Traditional car companies have struggled to offer infotainment
systems and apps that car owners embrace as much as they do their
smartphones. They also are grappling with how to capture, interpret
and monetize the growing amount of vehicle-generated data.
David McClelland, Ford's vice president of strategy and
partnerships, said the Google system will allow Ford to offer
customized features and services that would be different from those
of its competitors.
Write to Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 01, 2021 13:35 ET (18:35 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.