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商业 - 科技

苹果瞄准汽车厂商

Doron Levin 2013年07月10日

苹果最近正在谋求与通用汽车、梅赛德斯-奔驰、日产以及现代等汽车厂商展开合作,把全新的iOS 7操作系统整合汽车中。届时,汽车电脑的屏幕可能看起来与iPhone一样,用户可以使用Siri语音命令来控制导航、娱乐选项、电话以及暖气和空调等功能。如果合作成功,届时苹果和这些汽车厂商将实现双赢。

    图为福特林肯汽车的娱乐信息系统界面。图片来源:林肯

    苹果公司(Apple)的iPhone能否帮助汽车制造商提升汽车销量?而汽车又能否帮助苹果卖出更多的电子设备?

    或许两者都有可能,而双方能借此实现共赢。苹果最近表示,正在同多家汽车制造商合作,以将全新的iOS 7操作系统整合到后者的汽车中,合作厂商包括通用汽车(General Motors)、梅赛德斯-奔驰(Mercedes-Benz)、日产(Nissan)以及现代(Hyundai)。顺理成章的,这款产品被命名为“车载版iOS”。汽车电脑的屏幕可能看起来与iPhone一样,用户可以使用Siri语音命令来控制导航、娱乐选项、电话以及暖气和空调等功能。

    用户最喜爱的应用程序可从手机投映到屏幕上。加上3G或4G网络连接,驾驶者或乘客可通过该格式购买和下载音乐,或许还能通过亚马逊(Amazon)订购商品。位于美国田纳西州纳什维尔的日产汽车发言人大卫•罗伊特承认:“我们一直在与苹果就iOS 7进行合作。”他还表示,语音助理应用Siri将被用于日产和英菲尼迪的部分车型。

    数码功能已成为人们选购汽车时一项更重要的考虑因素,对有些用户来说,甚至是一项决定性的因素。目前尚不清楚的是,更广泛的数字和无线性能是会对驾驶者带来更多干扰,还是相反会提升安全性。(Siri为用户朗读其短信和邮件,使驾驶者的视线不用离开路面。)

    如果有汽车能带来如苹果般的数码功能与用户体验,那么毫无疑问,iPhone的狂热粉丝会被牢牢吸引住。苹果设备的出货量如今已超过6亿,这对于汽车厂商而言是个无法忽视的天文数字。“统一接口的优势不言而喻,” 一位汽车业高管说。“人们只需要了解一种能同时适应汽车和智能手机的格式,而不是两种。”不过,由于竞争关系,这位高管并不愿透露姓名。

    很早以前,汽车工业就认识到了如今被称为“互联汽车”技术的巨大潜力。汽车不是孤立的个体,而是融入数字社会的一个节点。不过,凭借着丰富的功能和便捷的操作,智能手机如今大有取代汽车行车电脑之势。

    通用汽车是互联汽车的先锋,它的安吉星系统通过卫星网络将通用品牌汽车联入网络。安吉星服务向用户收取月租,目前已积累了不少用户,成绩可喜。不过,它离通用希望创立行业标准的目标还相距甚远。福特(Ford)和宝马(BMW)等公司的娱乐信息系统则举步维艰。它们功能落后,很难使用,许多用户纷纷抱怨,最终反而影响了用户对福特和宝马品牌的评价。

    目前还有不少汽车厂商没有同苹果合作,福特就是其中的一家。它选择与微软(Microsoft)合作开发娱乐信息系统。不过,如果苹果被证实能提升某款车型的销量和定价,尤其是受年轻人青睐的车型,那么福特未来很可能也会考虑提供iPhone格式的信息系统。

    不过,汽车厂商必须小心谨慎,因为消费者们都是出奇地变化无常,他们很可能突然对某种新的数码标准如痴如醉,就像当年的iPhone一样。而且,谷歌(Google)Android设备目前在销量上也已经压过苹果。

    新一代的消费者十分关心行车电脑的存储空间和处理速度,而对汽车的马力和扭矩则不那么在意。汽车厂商们明白这一点,而这也是苹果为什么将在汽车行业扮演更重要角色的原因所在。(财富中文网)

    Can the iPhone help automakers sell cars? Or will cars help Apple sell more gadgets?

    Perhaps both. Apple (AAPL) recently said it is working with a number of automakers, including General Motors (GM), Mercedes-Benz, Nissan (NSANY) and Hyundai to integrate its new iOS 7operating system into cars. The product is called, not shockingly, "iOS in the Car." The car's screen might look like an iPhone's, allowing Siri voice commands control navigation, entertainment choices, phone and functions such as heating and air conditioning.

    Favorite apps might be projected from the phone to the screen. Combined with a 3G or 4G connection, the format could allow driver or passenger to buy and download music–or, perhaps, order merchandise via Amazon (AMZN). "We have been working with Apple on iOS 7," acknowledged David Reuter, a spokesman for Nissan Motor in Nashville, Tennessee. He also said that Siri will be used in some Nissan and Infiniti models.

    Digital features have become a more important consideration–crucial for some–when choosing a car to buy. What's unclear is whether broader digital and wireless capability in cars will add to driver distraction or, conversely, increase safety by letting drivers keep their eyes on the road while letting Siri read them texts and email.

    In any event, it's a sure thing that iPhone's most avid fans will be attracted to car models that emulate Apple's digital feel and experience. With some 600 million Apple devices in customer hands, automakers have a huge audience with which to connect. "The advantage of a common interface is self-evident," said one auto executive, who asked not to be identified because of industry competition. "You only have to learn one format for your car and smartphone, rather than two."

    The auto industry has long realized the potential benefits of what it now refers to as "the connected car"–that is, the car as a node in the digital world. But smartphones have largely transcended the screens on car dashboards, because they do more and are easier to use.

    GM, which pioneered connection of its cars to the communication grid via OnStar, has achieved modest success with monthly subscriptions to the satellite service, though nothing near the industry standard it hoped to establish. Others like Ford (F) and BMW have struggled with infotainment systems that were buggy or hard to use, frustrating and alienating some car owners and seeing their overall quality ratings decline as a result.

    Ford, which collaborates with Microsoft (MSFT) on its infotainment systems, is one of the carmakers that so far hasn't been mentioned in the same breath as Apple. But if Apple proves helpful in the sales or pricing of a particular car model, especially one favored by younger buyers, Ford would likely consider how it might also offer the iPhone format.

    But carmakers will exercise caution, since consumers are notoriously fickle and could embrace a new and different digital standard as enthusiastically as they embraced the iPhone. Sales of Android devices using Google's (GOOG) operating system are greater than Apple's.

    A new generation cares much more about megabytes of storage and clock speeds than horsepower or torque. The automakers get this, which is why Apple will be playing a bigger role in cars.

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