Detroit Automakers Vie for App Devs Amid Infotainment Arms Race
July 2, 2013 2:43 PM
comment(s) - last by
The car is the latest smart device
In today's era of
even smart watches
-- an oft forgotten, but fast growing sector is the smart vehicle. Today's vehicles come packed with infotainment software. Some even have live connections to the cloud via your smartphone or built in modems. Some automakers are opening their door to apps (e.g. drivers ed apps, driving log apps, apps to tell you where the closest fast food joint is, or apps to suggest a fun date location nearby).
I. GM and Ford Woo Third Party Developers
Ford Motor Comp. (
already supports third party apps
, while General Motors Comp. (
) will be
rolling out its own app platform
next year, according to announcements.
All this means a quiet boom in Detroit-based app developers. App developers in Detroit largely fall into three tiers -- those who work directly with automakers on their in-car interfaces; those who work at large suppliers on third-party interfaces; and those who do contract work to support certain automotive themed apps either directly in-vehicle or related to a vehicle (think your car manual on your smartphone).
The car is the new smart device. [Image Source: Ford]
Laura Kurtz, Ford’s manager of United States recruiting, told
The New York Times
a recent highlight
on the surging Detroit information technology (IT) and app developer recruitment that Ford plans to hire 300 IT specialists in the next year. Some will be tasked with working on MyFord Touch, SYNC, and related infotainment products, while others will play roles as systems administrators and software support for the mass of software needed to generate a modern fuel-efficient vehicle.
GM plans to add even more skilled developers and IT specialists over the next three to five years -- 4,400 in total at a location in the Detroit suburb of Warren as well as other facilities in Austin, Texas; Roswell, Geor.; and Chandler, Ariz. Of those new hires, GM estimates 1,200 will be recent college grads. GM's applications and application ecosystem development team is headed by Steve Schwinke and has 50 members. That will double by the year's end to over 100 engineers. Comments the team lead, "A lot of people are really interested in the space because it’s new. It’s a new screen."
And GM is eager to get third party developers involved for its new program, which launches next year. Nick Pudar, director of GM's new app developer ecosystem program, echoes these statements as he travels the country try to recruit phone developers to consider developing vehicle apps. He comments, "[Developers] view [automotive] as a new space to be creative. The vehicles are becoming this new channel of innovation. This is a newfound field full of features and functionality that developers are intrigued by."
II. Small Developers Thrive in Michigan
Michigan's Department of Labor
projects that the system software developer is growing faster than any other technical job in Michigan -- projected 36.9 percent a year. App developer growth isn't bad either -- at 23.5 percent, versus an average growth rate of 8.5 percent. The Department of Labor came to those statistics by digging into local growth trends since 2010.
The state -- famous for the "Big Three" and countless automotive suppliers -- is certainly recovering post-recession, but the software development field is spring back faster than any other technical field in the state.
One growing power is
. In 2011 the company had 10 employees, it currently has 40, and by the end of the year it expects to employ over 60 engineers -- a six-fold growth. Company co-founder Paul Glomski comments, "If you go to the coasts, you are one of thousands. In Detroit, you have the opportunity to make an impact. It's for real."
Developers relax in a casual environment at Detroit Labs. [Image Source: The Detroit Times]
Another top local development firm is Apigee Labs, founded by Brian Mulloy -- a San Francisco, Calif. startup veteran and University of Michigan graduate. While Apigee does not directly develop many automotive apps (instead focusing on a wide variety of form factors from smartphones to fitness machines), it's reveling in the auto-driven app economy. Apigee shares a building with Detroit Labs.
Company founder Mr. Mulloy comments, "You’re going to see developers set up shop in Detroit because they’re going to follow the money and there will be lots of money."
There are obstacles to becoming an automotive app developer -- namely the cost of development kits (at least based on Ford's model). And Detroit lacks the cachet of the hipster havens of the West Coast. But ultimately developers go where there's money and there's a lot of money in Detroit, plus low living costs.
Thus expect the Detroit app and IT boom to continue, as the car becomes the latest app-sporting, cloud-connected smart device form factor.
The New York Times
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Limited market
7/3/2013 8:25:41 AM
I think auto dealers are just trying to one up each other with features. With the latest generation being the portable gadget/computer generation it only makes sense to have some sort of gadget wow factor in the console. Necessary no.
RE: Limited market
7/3/2013 9:22:43 AM
Are 18/19/20 inch wheels necessary in a passengar car ?
Is a 11 speaker system a necessity ? If not, why do manufacturers provide them ?
This is the next evolution of in car entertainment. I hope someone gets it right..
My ideal car entertainment would have physical buttons (either steering wheel mounted or on the console), voice recognition that really recognizes all accents, great screen with tactile feedback and most importantly smartly laid out that I can select what I want with mere glances.
The possibilities are endless.
I wish auto manufacturers agree to some amount of uniformity atleast at the top screen in order not to confuse consumers.
RE: Limited market
7/3/2013 9:26:16 AM
I hate dealing with people in general most of the time.
For some vehicles yes. It helps with handling. If my M37 has 16" wheels, it would turn like crap.
"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
Apple Looks to Trademark "iWatch" in Japan
July 1, 2013, 11:18 AM
Samsung to Break Another Profit Record, Creeps Closer to Apple
April 5, 2013, 12:34 PM
LG Buys WebOS From HP for SmartTVs
February 25, 2013, 11:14 AM
CES 2013: GM Launches New Developer Program for Vehicle Apps
January 8, 2013, 9:18 AM
CES 2013: Ford Launches "First Open Developer Program in the Auto History"
January 7, 2013, 11:27 PM
Quick Note: GM Teases Next Generation Chevrolet Volt
November 20, 2014, 3:26 PM
Audi is Latest to Step Into the Hydrogen Game, Delivers A7 Sportback h-tron quattro
November 19, 2014, 1:41 PM
Toyota’s Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Priced from $57,500 in the U.S.
November 18, 2014, 10:23 AM
Honda Still Pushing Hydrogen, Introduces FCV Fuel Cell Concept
November 17, 2014, 8:27 AM
Ford Enlists Wind Energy Corp. to Provide Wind, Solar Energy to Four U.S. Dealerships
November 10, 2014, 10:58 AM
AutoNation CEO Calls Slams Michigan’s “Anti-Tesla Bill”, Chides Elon Musk
November 7, 2014, 6:52 PM
Most Popular Articles
Uber Exec Threatens to "Spend Millions" to Stalk Female Reporter and Her Family
November 19, 2014, 12:31 PM
Apple Replaces “FREE” Label with “GET” on App Downloads in iTunes App Store
November 19, 2014, 5:38 PM
Rand Paul Casts Crucial "No" Vote on Obama-Backed PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill
November 19, 2014, 5:15 PM
FTC Announces Crackdown on Computer Speedup/Tech Support Scams
November 20, 2014, 1:40 PM
Wal-Mart: Miss Thanksgiving, Get Xbox One + Master Chief Collection for $299
November 17, 2014, 9:40 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information