General Motors' decision to ditch Apple CarPlay in its new electric vehicles is part of a larger battle for control of the vehicle infotainment center.
Nearly a decade after most automakers touted smartphone mirroring through CarPlay and Android Auto as a standard feature, many wonder if they surrendered an important part of the car to big tech and are looking to reclaim the vehicle interface before Apple can expand its reach.
The automakers are emulating newcomers such as Tesla and Rivian Automotive, which opted to develop their own advanced interfaces instead of mirroring a smartphone screen. They want to claim an attractive revenue stream — subscriptions to software features sold to drivers directly through the infotainment center.
GM said this year that it won't support CarPlay in its upcoming EVs but will leave it for now in combustion engine vehicles.
"This is a go-forward strategy focused on future EVs," said Anna Yu, a GM spokesperson.
It is a dramatic reversal for the automaker.
"For most of us, our smartphones are essential," CEO Mary Barra said in 2015. "Partnering with Apple and Google to offer CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the widest range of models in the industry is a great example of how Chevrolet continues to democratize technology that's important to our customers."
The campaign to privatize that democracy will require conquering the so-far-undefeated empire of user attention: Apple. It will also require recovering from clunky displays and soothing consumers fatigued by a never-ending stream of subscription payments and logins, from Amazon Prime to Netflix.
"I intend to only consider a car that's going to have Apple CarPlay in it," said Prentis Reedy, a driver in Houston who changed his mind about his next vehicle once he learned that GM won't offer Apple CarPlay in the 2025 Sierra EV Denali.