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Google to Battle Apple, Microsoft in a New Mobile Territory


Google partners with Audi to deliver Android-powered in-car technology in the near future.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Engineering Director Scott Huffman recently announced that the company sees its handy virtual assistant, Google Now, forging into brand new territories -- namely the car and the living room. (See: Google Has Big Plans for Google Now)

Well, Mountain View is making good on part of that promise as Google is now following in the footsteps of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and will be developing in-car technology for the luxury brand Audi (FWB:NSU).

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, Google and the German automaker will officially announce their vehicular partnership at next week's Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. With the help of chipmakers at Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), the two companies will produce an Android-powered in-car system that will control everything from navigation to music to various other apps and services.

As if the war over mobile supremacy wasn't bloodthirsty enough, this latest partnership will expand the battlegrounds into a brand new territory. Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski told the Journal, "The car is becoming the ultimate mobile device. Apple and Google see that, and are trying to line up allies to bring their technology into the vehicle."

But Apple has a big lead. Back in June, Cupertino unveiled iOS in the Car, a system that mirrors the iPhone screen in the in-car display and grants Siri the opportunity to act as your personal co-pilot. Already, Apple has quite a few manufacturers on board, taking Honda (NYSE:HMC), Mercedes (FWB:DAI), Nissan, Ferrari, Chevrolet (NYSE:GM), Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, Jaguar (NYSE:TTM), and others along for the drive.

And Apple isn't the only one with the head start. Microsoft has a huge six-year lead with its Sync platform already installed in over 10 million Ford (NYSE:F) vehicles, and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) announced its Here Auto system just this past summer.

But the overwhelming market share that Android has amassed globally might give it an extra bit of familiarity with foreign car manufacturers, which would allow Google to make bigger strides in a shorter amount of time. On top of that, Google's free and open-sourced platform can be used in a number of different ways on a variety of operating systems.

Rajeev Kumar, a worldwide director of business development for in-car chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor Inc., told the Journal, "We are starting to see an uptick of Android use in car makers, starting in Asia and working its way across the world."

And Google has an ace up its tailpipe with perhaps the most tech-obsessed car manufacturer, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).

In October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced it will be switching the in-car browser in the Model S car to Google Chrome, making it a high-profile feature of an award-winning vehicle. Additionally, Musk said it would consider moving the operating system from a Linux port to Android. For a car manufacturer widely considered to be the future of automobile design, that's a huge win for Google.

Like with home automation, the battle over our vehicles' dashboards is just heating up, and hopefully, that fevered competition among the major players will bear some amazing consumer-side tech.

Maybe we'll get those self-driving cars within this decade yet.

See also:

Google's Chromecast: My Favorite Gadget of 2013

Did Amazon Slash Its Way to a Profit?

BlackBerry Users Can't Stop, Won't Stop
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