Now everybody hates General Motors

In a surprising move, General Motors recently announced its intention to phase out compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its upcoming electric vehicles, opting to replace them directly with Android Automotive. This decision, already implemented in the new Chevrolet Blazer EV, sets GM apart from competitors like Tesla, Rivian, and Nio, which have their closed systems, albeit less intuitive.

While not an unprecedented choice, it has triggered discontent among potential customers, particularly the younger demographic. A sort of protest has emerged, with many expressing their dissatisfaction and even threatening to switch allegiance to Ford if GM persists with this strategy.

So, what is GM’s mistake?

At first glance, the reaction may seem exaggerated because GM is not the only automaker rejecting compatibility with the smartphone replication systems of Apple and Android. Tesla, despite lacking this feature, remains highly successful and is admired by its fan base for maintaining a closed system, as is the case with Nio.

Image: Chevrolet

The issue lies in the fact that both Tesla and Nio were designed from the ground up with their closed systems, forming the basis for their entire automotive universe. GM, on the other hand, might have benefited from a softer approach, similar to Volvo, Polestar, and Renault.

Like GM, these three automakers use Android Automotive but still allow users to connect Android Auto and CarPlay. According to GM executives, Android Automotive is the only way to offer advanced and secure features without compromising the smartphone-like experience. Google’s OS, designed specifically for automobiles, integrates familiar apps such as Maps, Waze, Spotify, Tidal, and more.

Addressing safety concerns associated with smartphone replication, including random disconnections and slow responses causing distractions while driving, GM claims that Android Automotive provides a solution to these issues.

However, many critics argue that GM’s decision is a clever move to introduce more subscription services, following the footsteps of manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW.

Competitors seize the opportunity

Unsurprisingly, GM’s historical rivals have not stood idly by. Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, took to social media to reassure customers that Ford vehicles will remain faithful to Android Auto and CarPlay, using the same safety argument that GM cited for abandoning them.

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The response on social media has been vibrant, particularly from Millennials and Generation Z, individuals under 40 for whom smartphone system compatibility is crucial. Even those who claim a history of purchasing GM vehicles in their families are contemplating other options if the decision becomes final, underscoring the growing importance of multimedia capabilities in today’s automotive landscape.

Apple’s data supports this shift, revealing that nearly 8 out of 10 new car buyers in the USA consider CarPlay an essential feature. Despite this, GM seems unwilling to admit any misstep, backtrack on its decision, or formulate an effective marketing strategy to make this choice more appealing. It appears that GM is struggling to manage the fallout from its decision, highlighting the contemporary significance of in-car multimedia features.

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