Among the many new product launch announcements yesterday it may have been easy to overlook the news about BMW. Amazon revealed that Alexa will be coming to BMW cars in 2018. You can see how BMW envisions the Alexa integration in the video below.
Smart Speakers Go Mobile
This is another example of taking smart speaker use cases and implementing them in another environment. What many people don’t realize is that as Alexa and Google Assistant become embedded in more automobiles, the smart speaker experience will simply migrate. Many of the things you do today in the home are also useful while driving. The difference is that voice has even greater utility while in an automobile. Voice may be the only method for you to access content or complete tasks if you are driving. At home, voice may simply be more convenient than a touch interface, but in the car it opens up entirely new categories of activity.
Earlier this year, Ford announced drivers will be able to place an order with Starbucks using Alexa while in transit. Hyundai, Mercedes Benz and even BMW have previously announced Alexa integration, but those initiatives have not included full in-car access. These solutions enable a user to start the car, unlock the doors, set the climate control or check status such as fuel level. BMW, along with Ford, will be among the first to actually leverage Alexa in the car.
BMW with Alexa, IBM Watson and More
BMW has another agreement with IBM Watson for diagnostics as well as in-dash voice interaction. It is not clear whether Watson will remain a voice interaction option alongside Alexa or it will be displaced. However, we are assuming that all auto brands will soon support multiple voice assistants. BMW is not going to force users to adopt Alexa if their preferred voice assistant is Google Assistant. The real news here is that voice assistants may start their consumer relationship on a smart speaker or mobile device, but they will quickly move to other platforms offering near ubiquitous connectivity.