Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Platform strategy revisited

By Dr. Roger Hampel
Just recently, I got myself a new phone. It has plenty of new features while some of the ones already present in my old phone have been greatly enhanced. Nevertheless, it took me only a few minutes to get accustomed to it. Why so? It’s because the new phone is based on the same platform as the old one.

The mobile phone industry has seen the creation of a number of platforms. There are closed ones, created and used by a single OEM to leverage across multiple products and product lines (e.g. Nokia Series 40, Blackberry). Then, there are the ones available for licensing by other OEMs (e.g. Palm, BREW, Windows Mobile), the sort of half-open ones. And, just recently, open source platforms have arrived, available royalty-free to every OEM supporting the ecosystem around them (e.g. Android, Symbian).

The automotive infotainment market is still in the process of creating and establishing infotainment platforms. Microsoft Auto has been around for a while and was recently revamped. It can be experienced in Fiat’s Blue&Me as well as Ford SYNC systems. The GENIVI alliance was officially launched at this year’s CeBIT trade show, aiming to develop an open source IVI platform. And RTOS provider QNX just recently has also launched their QNX CAR program (Connected Automotive Reference), providing a reference platform for rapid prototyping and development of IVI systems.

So what to expect as a user? Expect shorter development cycles for IVI systems and improved compatibility and interoperability with mobile devices such as phones, media players, headsets, etc. Expect downloadable system and feature upgrades, application and content stores for automotive infotainment and improved user experience. Expect the car to become the ultimate phone accessory!

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