Alexa In The Passenger Seat?
Yesterday Amazon announced it was opening up a new SDK to enable auto manufacturers to preinstall Alexa’s virtual assistant functionality into their cars. This is Amazon’s attempt to get a toe hold in the connected car, which is already cluttered with competitors. Apple’s Car Play already utilizes Siri and Android Auto uses Google’s assistant, so Amazon probably felt like it’s now or never to get their voice (pun intended) into automobile infotainment systems.
There’s an obvious motivation for OEMs to onboard Alexa and its AI for voice-commands. By subletting the functionality through Amazon the manufacturers won’t have to build a voice platform from scratch and keep it updated. The downside to outsourcing is that they’ll lose control of the data being gleaned by drivers who will be asking Alexa for this and that as they drive along.
Whatever the OEMs decide to do with Alexa, it will take years to implement. Model launches/relauches typically have a 7 year cycle, and the average age of vehicles on the road in the US today is 11 years. So even if Alexa’s integration is on the manufacturers’ drawing boards today it will take several years before you see this functionality in your driveway.