Apple could dominate car tech (if it wanted)

Summary:Two weeks of car shopping has driven home two big points for me: User interface matters. Car companies aren't all that good at it. Enter a big opportunity for Apple.

Two weeks of car shopping has driven home two big points for me: User interface matters. Car companies aren't all that good at it.

Gallery: Latest car tech missing Apple?

In my tour of test drives, I've discovered that car companies obviously think the following:

At the end of this car UI adventure, I was pretty happy to see something very plain. Just give me a button or two and let me drive. Simply put, less is more.

Hence this brain fart about Apple's next growth market. Here's the general idea:

  1. Some savvy automaker does a deal with Apple to go for collaboration on the car's interior. This partnership would go beyond the standard "plug in your iPod" trick. Apple designers would do the UI and buttons for the car interior. Think industrial design meets Audi.
  2. The auto-Apple deal would be exclusive. Taking a page from the iPhone playbook, Apple would start this auto partnership with a 4-year exclusive. Since Volkswagen can't quite get traction in the U.S. that's a good place to start.
  3. Apple could use the exclusive auto deal to make it so it could pop the iPad or iPod into a dashboard. The App Store would have an auto section.

While much of the focus on Apple's next market revolves around the living room, the automobile could be much more compelling. Would this Apple-auto arrangement actually happen? Who knows? There would surely be a culture clash. What I do know is that automakers could use some design help and Apple would fetch a premium on profits if it got into the car-tech game.

Related:

Topics: Apple

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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