Does Your Car Need Its Own App Store?

from the apptastic dept

Many years back, I remember hearing Jonathan Schwartz (before he was CEO of Sun) predict that one day people would buy “horntones” for their cars, the same way they bought ringtones for their mobile phones. While we haven’t quite reached that point yet, it appears that people may soon be buying “apps” for their cars. Slashdot points us to the news that Tesla has announced that (as many predicted) the giant touchscreen console on its Tesla S sedan will have support for third-party apps. Don’t like the stereo interface? Download a new one. Want a program that provides you better analytics on your driving habits? Download it. While I’m still pretty skeptical about the appification of everything, I am intrigued by the idea of being able to customize a car via apps. The real question is if there will really be enough demand to make it worthwhile for developers… and if this means that we’re going to face another standards battle as people try to standardize what in-dash apps look like.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: tesla

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Does Your Car Need Its Own App Store?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
ComputerAddict (profile) says:

One Day Closer to the fake GM press release on what cars would be like if “they kept pace with microsoft”

Some Highlights:
1. For no reason at all, your car would crash twice a day.
4. When your car died on the freeway for no reason, you would just accept this, restart and drive on.
9. The airbag would say ‘Are you sure?’ before going off.
10. Occasionally, for no reason, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed the radio antenna.

Christopher Gizzi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think it could work.

One, cars are closed systems so its attractive to some (not to others, of course).

Two, most people would see this as a platform investment like Android vs iOS and like a brand association like Benz vs BMW.

Three, the car customization market is HUGE; the demand to modify a car (including software) is established and strong.

Fourth, every car made today is run by software so this shouldn’t be a huge stretch.

As for whether or not the apps could compete for essential system resources that control acceleration, braking, steering, & shifting, see my third point.

I’ve actually thought about replacing the chips in my cars. But I haven’t wanted to get under the dashboard to do it. If I could install an app that would let me change the traction control programs, shift timings, and throttle control with an app, I’d love it.

Granted, I understand that in a closed ecosystem apps can be controlled and the controllers might not want to allow apps that could have an effect on warranties. But because the aftermarket is so strong, I can see this happening – even if it isn’t sanctioned with new cars.

Now I have to start working on the in-dash computer/radio/nav system that interfaces with the on-board computers so I can build that 3rd party app ecosystem. #BusinessIdea

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No car manufacturer in their right mind would give developers any access to physical hardware of the car–which means gear-ratios, brakes, shifting, air/fuel mix, whatnot would (should) never be accessible in such a manner, lest the manufacturer be sued.

We all know the rule–sue the person/company which is peripherally involved and has the most money.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I remember seeing a commercial on TV about OnStar being able to start the car remotely and unlock it. I thought “WTF! what if someone hacks OnStar? Can they also can shut down a car? Can they shut down most of the cars in the US? Can they upgrade OnStar remotely and make all the cars in the US randomly accelerate?”

This should frighten you more than that. GM’s OnStar, Ford Sync, MP3, Bluetooth Possible Attack Vectors for Cars.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Cart before the horse

I’ve watched Tesla Motors for about the past 5 years and their product is absolutely amazing. That said, if you’ve ever talked to anyone about their electric cars you would probably be equally amazed at the responses you hear.

While I personally haven’t done a scientific study, I can say that more often than not, most people have a oddly low opinion of electric cars. The first thing you will hear is “What is the range?” Even if you can show that the range is well over 200 miles per charge, the next question you will hear is “What do I do if it runs out of charge?”

The most amazing objection I’ve heard is the fear of running out of charge. It would appear there is a huge mental transaction when it comes to electricity vs gasoline, because most of us don’t think much of our cars running out of gasoline.

The point is that speculating as to whether or not there is an app market for this type of car is extraordinarily premature, since the car itself needs to gain some traction.

Something tells me that the lobbyists for the auto industry don’t want to see any cars on the road anytime soon that need servicing every 100k miles and don’t have all the belts and other combustion engine parts that wear out so often. Apps are hardly the biggest concern here.

colin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Cart before the horse

“It would appear there is a huge mental transaction when it comes to electricity vs gasoline, because most of us don’t think much of our cars running out of gasoline.”

Until there is an electrical recharge station every couple of miles that will give you a fill-up in a couple of minutes that will not change.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Cart before the horse

Admittedly the time involved in recharging an electric car is a HUGE hurdle to overcome. Solar kits are one solution and allow for the car to charge as its driving or just sitting parked, but are hardly a complete solution.

The thought that there needs to be “filling station” every couple of miles is another one of those things that people can’t get there heads around. With an electric car, you need an OUTLET. There seem to be plenty of those around.

Emilio says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Cart before the horse

“The most amazing objection I’ve heard is the fear of running out of charge. It would appear there is a huge mental transaction when it comes to electricity vs gasoline, because most of us don’t think much of our cars running out of gasoline.”

…and the reason for that is because of the amount of time involved in an electric ‘fill-up’. This whole thing only really takes off when super-capacitors allow you to stop and get a full charge in no more time than it now takes for gas…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

When your car died on the freeway for no reason, you would just accept this, restart and drive on.

This one’s already real. A bus I was on started beeping and losing engine power while on the freeway. The driver pulled into the emergency lane, stopped, and turned the vehicle fully off; then he restarted the engine, got back onto the freeway, and finished the route.

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Not gonna fly

I seriously doubt this will catch on with indie developers. The problem is that there is simply too much danger of screwing something up, and doing that in the Litigious States of America is a death sentence. What’s to stop a motorist from suing because the app was flashing in a way that caused him to take his eyes off of the road? What if somebody downloads a speedometer app and sues because it was faulty and they got a ticket. I’ve seen far too many shoddy developers on iOS and Android to ever trust them near my car.

letherial (profile) says:

Re: Not gonna fly

I agree with you, however, i think it will be attempted until the lawsuits roll in.

One thing i dont want is a personalized horn, it would be the day it was launched that the rednecks with there big ass trucks will be running around playing some stupid half done country song through there new horn sound.

Fun for children, annoying for everyone else.

Colin (profile) says:

It is already here

As with most vehicles these days the computer already runs the the whole show.
My Volvo gets hooked up to their network for diagnosis but it can also do everything from changing the dimming of the rear-view mirror to adjusting the transmission shifting.
It can download updates and turn on or off features.
It is also quite proprietary so they have you by the short and curlies every time you want any service done.

Anonymous Coward says:

There is a commercial running on TV now...

…which shows someone checking the status of their Buick Lacrosse and then starting it up for their grateful teenage daughter (who is borrowing the car).

Now…given that we live in a world where smart phones are routinely hacked, voice and data networks are 0wned and spewing abuse, malware is rampant and far, far ahead of the capabilities of defenders, security companies are much more about hype than substance, and the world’s dominant operating system is a sophomoric piece of crap that would and should be laughed out of any competent operation….

What could possibly go wrong?

John D (user link) says:

Saab is doing this

Saab’s new in-car ‘infotainment’ platform will be based on Android, and will give developers read-only access to ‘over 500 sensors’ in the car…which is awesome. In fact, this would make me replace my current Saab with a new one over something else.

Car Apps (profile) says:

Car Apps and Car Applications

The idea of an in car app store is upon us. Car manufacturers are inviting applications from software companies who make third party applications which can be tailored to enhance current models.
Should the manufacturers have failed to accept use of third party software, they were in serious danger of being overwhelmed by third party apps aimed at their cars which bypass the manufacturers. If after exhaustive testing and the car application does not cause problems with the cars own security and engine management system, everyone wins – software company, the manufacturer and of course the customer.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...