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Ford will stick with CarPlay as GM exits for Google tech

Ford will continue to stick with Apple's CarPlay

As General Motors plans to phase out CarPlay for its infotainment system, Ford won't so it doesn't risk losing Apple customers.

In an interview with Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal, Ford CEO Jim Farley spoke about the state of built-in infotainment systems in modern vehicles. He mentioned rivals Tesla and GM and how the companies' decisions affect customers.

Specifically, he believes that manufacturers aren't going to make much money on the content they provide through infotainment systems. Drivers instead will compare features like safety, security, driving autonomy, and productivity.

"In terms of content, we kind of lost that battle 10 years ago," Farley said. "So like get real with it, because you're not going to make a ton of money on content inside the vehicle."

"It's gonna be safety, security, partial autonomy, and productivity in our eyes, he continued. "So that relationship for content is between you, The Wall Street Journal, and the customer."

Farley's point is that since people already bring their smartphones into their vehicles, they won't want to pay for services they already have on their phones. Instead, they'll like to extend their smartphone into their car via CarPlay and Android Auto rather than having two separate systems.

On the business side, Farley doesn't believe having a custom infotainment system is enough of a differentiator to attract customers. He also mentioned that 70% of Ford customers in the US are Apple customers, so "Why would I go to an Apple customer and say good luck?"

In contrast, GM announced in March that it intends to gradually phase out CarPlay and Android Auto in its cars. Instead, it will build an internally-developed infotainment system in collaboration with Google, relying on subscription-based services.

It will keep CarPlay and Android Auto in its combustion vehicles, but future electric cars will use GM's system.

A preview of the next-generation of CarPlay
A preview of the next-generation of CarPlay

It hopes to profit from those subscriptions, such as Spotify, Audible, and other services. Drivers will also be able to use Google Maps and Google Assistant at no cost for eight years.

"We do believe there are subscription revenue opportunities for us," Edward Kummer, GM's chief digital officer, said. By 2030, GM CEO Mary Barra hopes to generate $20 to $25 billion in revenue from yearly subscription fees.

Apple intends to release what it calls the "next-generation" of CarPlay sometime in 2023, and will likely announce it at this year's WWDC. It will take over the car's instrument cluster to display gauges for stats like fuel and oil, engine temperature, and miles per gallon.