Volkswagen iBeetle and iBeetle Cabriolet
Eventually, we hope that car companies get the hint and step away from infotainment systems. They can design the screens on which we interact with those systems, but the software itself is best left to companies that have programming at their core.
Why? Because sheet metal and CSS are very different things. Automakers should focus on what they do best: designing good-looking rides that take us from Point A to Point B safely and stylishly.
The software that runs on those cars, however, should probably come from folks who can handle shorter turnaround times than the auto industry. From the lowliest start-up to giant firms like Apple and Google, software companies can bang out operating-system updates and post them in a matter of days, if not hours. There's no value judgement there; it's just something they do. Automakers should back up and give them room to do it. (Note: Ford may have figured this out.)
Of course, the situation becomes slightly more complicated when software and vehicle autonomy become the thing consumers look for first in a new car. When vehicles become fully autonomous, when they exist solely to entertain us on our morning commutes, will conventional car companies take a back seat to Apple, Google, and others? Given the increasing number of automakers showing off rides at CES, the turning point may come sooner than we think.