Android OS coming to your Audi soon - Google establishes partnership

12/30/2013 - 00:00

Technology giants Google Inc. GOOG -0.52% and Apple Inc. AAPL -1.19% are about to expand their battle for digital supremacy to a new front: the automobile.

Next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Google and German auto maker Audi AG NSU.XE -3.33% plan to announce that they are working together to develop in-car entertainment and information systems that are based on Google's Android software, people familiar with the matter said.

They also plan to disclose collaborative efforts with other automotive and tech companies, including chip maker NvidiaCorp. NVDA +1.21% , to establish Android as an important technology for future vehicles, these people said. The aim is to allow drivers and passengers to access music, navigation, apps and services that are similar to those widely available now on Android-powered smartphones, these people added.

The coming announcements signal Google's response to an initiative launched last June by Apple to integrate iPhones and other devices running its iOS operating system with car makers' dashboard control panels. Apple so far has the support of BMW AGBMW.XE -0.23% , Daimler AG DAI.XE -0.40% 's Mercedes-Benz division, General MotorsCo. GM -0.22% and Honda Motor Co. 7267.TO +0.70%

Apple and Google already compete fiercely in an array of digital businesses, ranging from smartphones and tablet computers to mobile apps and Web browsers. With 80 million new cars and light trucks sold each year, automobiles represent a significant new opportunity for Internet-based software and services.

"The car is becoming the ultimate mobile device," said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at the research firm Gartner Inc. IT +0.64% who specializes in advanced in-car electronics. "Apple and Google see that and are trying to line up allies to bring their technology into the vehicle."

The annual event known as CES has in recent years become an important showcase for advances in automotive electronics, including the kind of autonomous driving technologies that Google has helped pioneer.

Besides its partnership with the Internet company, Audi is expected to demonstrate new technologies that allow cars to drive themselves in certain situations and for short periods, and to lay out a timetable to offer them on new models due to arrive over the next four or five years, people familiar with the matter said.