Today many commentators are understanding Android Auto as a direct answer to Apple’s CarPlay. Surely it is, but this is anecdotical compared to the big picture. Here is why.
As a starter it is important to have in mind that Google’s share on the smartphone market worldwide is more than five times bigger than Apple: 80,2 % against 14.8% percent, according to IDC (2014 forecast), and this is not expected to change drastically in the next five years according to their forecast.
Therefore Android Auto's impact on the industry has a different order of magnitude than CarPlay.
Second, Google has automotive ambitions that are much wider than Apple (as we already explained in a previous article here). If anything else, its self-driving car technology is the best testimony of these high ambitions.
It is indeed important to look back a bit at history and see the consequences of software domination on particular hardware markets. Remember Microsoft with Windows in the PC market in the 90s? Look at the current Android domination on smartphones? In all cases the hardware makers get commoditized. Hence the reason why Samsung is desperatly trying to get out of Android...
This should have rang a bell at headquarters of auto makers, no?
What does Android Auto specifically means for the car industry?
Android Auto is basically taking over the branded dashboard experience of the car maker to replace it with its own user interface and services: Google Maps for turn-by-turn GPS navigation, Play Music, Google Now for contextual search, and more.