How many “hidden arrows” are hidden in the mobile phone factory?

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Text / Dawn

Source/Deep Way (ID: shentucar)

Mobile phone manufacturers have been “warming up” for nearly two years since last year. In the end, the real end, and the only one who played the banner of “building a car” in an open and fair manner, was Xiaomi.

Apple, Huawei, OPPO, and Meizu have high voices and a lot of movement, but they are not really car-making – Apple’s car-making team has been turbulent again and again, and has not seen a car for eight years; Huawei has always emphasized that it does not build cars and is positioned as a supplier business; OPPO does not build a complete vehicle, but does a car-machine interconnection; Meizu was acquired by Geely and gave up its independent qualification.

But they’ve always been on the field, and they’ve been ambitious. Their popular saying now is to “get in the car” first.

Of course, “getting in the car” is not your own car, but the car of the car company. Mobile phone manufacturers provide their own software, systems, services, etc. to OEMs, and indirectly participate in car building as suppliers.

For example, Huawei, Huawei has a saying that sounds very good on the table: don’t build cars, just help car companies build good cars. So there are models such as Wenjie M5, Extreme Fox Alpha S Huawei HI version, Avita 11 and so on. Huawei’s Hongmeng system, intelligent driving solutions and various components can be quickly “on the bus”.

Another example is OPPO, founder and CEO Chen Mingyong said that OPPO will try it only if the car manufacturer can’t make a good car. They have developed digital car keys and car-machine interconnection systems, and have received orders from many car companies.

On the surface, these mobile phone manufacturers want to “hand shovels” to auto manufacturers, so that they can dig into the gold mines of the auto industry faster. Everyone cooperates, has a clear division of labor, and makes a fortune together. But the truth is not so simple.

It is no coincidence that Celis has been questioned as a foundry, Weilai wants to build its own mobile phones, Tesla regards Apple as a strong enemy, and BMW does not appear in the cooperation list of “old friend” Apple’s latest generation of CarPlay.

Whether the mobile phone manufacturer handed over a “shovel” or a “knife”, the car manufacturer has to weigh it.

A dark battle caused by a screen

The business of mobile phone manufacturers eyeing cars started with a screen.

As early as ten years ago, the car center console was not as popular as it is today with large screens. The picture quality and resolution of the car screen are not comparable to the mobile phone screen, and the function is very simple.

At that time, a group of old mobile phone manufacturers and a group of traditional car companies formed an alliance called CCC (Car Connectivity Consortium). Early members of the alliance include Nokia, HTC, Samsung, Volkswagen, Honda, etc. This alliance has developed the technical standard MirrorLink.

MirrorLink can project the functions of smartphones to the center console screen of the car, so as to control the mobile phone and help users use smartphone-like functions in the car, such as answering/making calls, listening to mobile music, and navigating with mobile phones. This standard was quickly promoted, and some car companies and mobile phone manufacturers developed various systems and applications on this basis.

A turning point was the birth of Apple CarPlay.

In 2014, Apple launched the CarPlay in-car system, which allows users to connect their iOS devices to the car’s central control display, use Apple Maps, read emails, make calls, and control music on the car’s display.

Strictly speaking, this is not much different from the MirrorLink solution, which is a kind of mobile phone mapping. However, Apple is not based on the MirrorLink protocol, but uses its own closed ecology.

Apple’s entry shocked the industry, because Apple is the pioneer of the era of smartphones, and the starting point of car-machine interconnection is based on smartphones.

Chinese mobile phone makers are also smelling business opportunities. In 2013, Huawei quietly established the Internet of Vehicles Business Department, which was hidden in the Huawei 2012 laboratory. Then Huawei began to “hook up” with car companies. For example, at the Asian CES in 2015, Huawei announced that it had reached a cooperation with Volkswagen on the Internet of Vehicles, covering smartphone-centered calls, text messages, navigation, multimedia, payment, etc. Car service.

At that time, Yu Chengdong was the CEO of Huawei’s consumer BG. He highlighted two points at the exhibition. One is that cars are becoming the largest mobile smart terminal, and the other is that Huawei’s smartphones have officially entered a new stage of interconnection with cars.

So looking back today, Huawei has been in the automotive industry for nearly ten years, and it has been cut from mobile phones.

Source / Visual China Source / Visual China

At that time, there were many mobile phone manufacturers in China, and only Huawei responded the most quickly. Xiaomi is going further and further on the road of raising financing and raising its valuation. OPPO, vivo, Meizu, etc. are still dedicated to building mobile phones. UC Youshi, which is based on the mobile phone ecology, was sold to Alibaba at a high price of 4 billion US dollars that year. Founder He Xiaopeng joined Xpeng Motors three years later.

However, the concept of the Internet of Vehicles was already popular at that time, and was regarded as a shortcut to the automobile industry by mobile phone manufacturers. From time to time, Xiaomi entered the automobile industry. Both car manufacturers and mobile phone manufacturers intend to expand their layout, but they have not figured out how to cut in.

The two sides also have their own small abacus. Mobile phone manufacturers want to get involved in the auto business, but feel that the time is not too ripe. For example, the standards are not uniform, and the compatibility of the screen is also a problem. Auto manufacturers hope to have more voice in the Internet of Vehicles ecosystem and promote their own systems.

As a result, the entire industry is in a state of chaos. In the end, the strong Apple occupied most of the market share, and CarPlay became the most popular car networking solution; Baidu, which started as a search engine, launched Carlife to occupy a place; Huawei also launched the HUAWEI HiCar solution.

For car owners, the most intuitive feeling is that the mobile phone and the car screen are connected. The position of operating the mobile phone can be changed from the mobile phone screen to the central control screen of the vehicle.

These two screens connect mobile phone manufacturers and car manufacturers, causing direct collision between the two huge industries, and also laying the groundwork for future mutual penetration and games.

Compete for “super-large traffic package”

In the years that Apple CarPlay has conquered the city, mobile phone manufacturers and car manufacturers have been at peace until the era of smart cars.

A smart car is like a smartphone with four wheels, especially a car with a large screen, more and more like a large mobile phone, with the functions of a mobile phone, such as navigating directly on the car, listening to music, Watch movies, play games, order takeout.

The way of connecting mobile phones and car machines is no longer a simple mapping, but realizes cross-end connection. Multiple devices can interact, assist and integrate with each other, and personal accounts can be opened at the underlying data level. For example, the car-machine system of Wenjie M5 can be linked with Huawei mobile phones and watches, without a key, and you can drive by using a mobile phone or a watch alone.

In the past, the in-car screen that the mobile phone factory was eyeing has become two or even three, and it is larger and clearer. It represents the entire smart cockpit. The industry has reached a consensus that smart cockpits will generate huge commercial value.

Chen Ming, partner of Boke Technology’s smart cockpit personal independent audio project, told Shentu: “Cars are the latest and largest mobile traffic portal after mobile phones. What each platform lacks most now is how to drain traffic, and traffic is money. The mobile range is faster, larger and more convenient than mobile phones, and it is the best platform for the information revolution.”

In his opinion, smart cockpits help car factories open up new gold mines, “In the future, car companies can use AI to match every passenger, just like the principle of Douyin, but cars move in a wide range, so the amount of information is more Big. In the future, even OEMs can make continuous and huge profits by relying on traffic instead of selling cars.”

Source / Visual China Source / Visual China

Many people believe that the smart cockpit can replicate the business model of mobile phones, form a rich ecology on the car and generate more sources of income.

such as the app store. The app store is a profitable business, contributing tens of billions of dollars in revenue to Apple every year. Some car companies have also begun to build APP stores on the car, such as Xiaopeng, which has supported the dual application ecosystem of the app store and Alipay applet since Xmart OS 2.0. Xmart OS 3.0 not only increases the number of applications, but also sells peripheral products.

Another example is the game. Games are the most profitable model in the mobile phone ecosystem. Last year, game revenue in Apple’s APP Store accounted for more than half. Car companies have developed games one after another, just to take a fancy to this. Tesla has laid out games for a long time. One of the selling points of the ideal L9 new car is that it can play Switch games on the large screen in the back row. In the Xiaopeng app store, there are already a number of games that can be downloaded and played directly on the central control screen.

Although He Xiaopeng did not build a mobile phone before building a car, he founded the UC browser and is very familiar with the gameplay of mobile phone application ecology. This is also a big reason why Xpeng Motors is so aggressive in software.

In this regard, mobile phone manufacturers who are familiar with the road will never let go of the new traffic entrance of the smart cockpit. They will not be reconciled to the “porter” cooperation model in the early days of the Internet of Vehicles, but will be more involved in it.

Huawei launched the Hongmeng cockpit to encourage car companies to use Huawei’s “family bucket” to accelerate cooperation with car companies to load cars; Apple made a major update to CarPlay in June, not only taking over all the screens in the car, but also trying to directly control the air conditioning in the car , entertainment systems, seats and other equipment; OPPO released the intelligent cross-end system Pantanal in August, taking the lead in reaching a cooperation with SAIC. Xiaomi even ended up building cars in person.

Chen Ming believes that multimedia interaction and user experience are the strengths of mobile phone manufacturers and the weakness of car manufacturers, so mobile phone manufacturers want to do it. “The smart cockpit is like a super-large traffic package. Xiaomi understands the value of traffic best, so it builds the car. The mobile phone factory regards this direction as a new growth point. This is the direction and the only opportunity.”

Ambitioners and spoilers

Mobile phone manufacturers enter the smart cockpit, car companies are mixed. Car companies are well aware that strong players like Apple and Huawei have ambitions not limited to the simple screen of the car.

Apple launched the next generation of CarPlay in June this year, and many people called “the wolf is coming”. On the surface, the new version of CarPlay seems to be just an “extended screen of the iPhone”, but Apple has begun to probe down to the control layer of vehicle functions, and gradually gain permission to read and use the underlying core data.

Once Apple obtains these permissions, it will slowly take over the car and the cockpit, implant its own systems and hardware, and redefine the relationship between the cockpit and the owner. Since a large number of physical buttons have been eliminated in smart cars, the car-machine system has become the entrance to control the functions of the cockpit. Apple controls the car-machine, which is equivalent to controlling the entire cockpit.

When car companies cooperate with Apple, what they lose on the surface is a screen, but in fact they may lose control of the cockpit.

That’s why, before Apple’s car is in sight, Tesla has already seen it as the biggest threat.

In fact, as early as June 2013, Apple released an iOS in the car plan to deeply integrate the iOS operating system into the car center console. That plan ultimately fell through, however, and a year later it became the less aggressive CarPlay.

Compared with Apple, Huawei’s steps are bigger and more ambitious.

Huawei has directly come up with a complete set of smart cockpit solutions, from the underlying system of the car, to UI design, human-computer interaction, to the car smart screen and audio system, all of which are included. The key is that Huawei has the Hongmeng system, which is equivalent to holding the underlying control.

A number of industry insiders told Shentu that Hongmeng has the best experience among the solutions that have been mass-produced so far, and its advantages are obvious.

Xu Ke, the founder of Yujie Technology, who is positioned to return the car to the essence of space and is committed to building a car metaverse cockpit, said to Shentu: “Huawei’s Hongmeng cockpit has system advantages, forming a Hongmeng ecology, and it is very good to make a good sample. big advantage.”

For car companies, the cooperation plan handed over by Huawei is like a rose with thorns. Direct adoption can shorten the development cycle, fast loading and mass production, and the hidden danger is that control may be handed over.

At present, the traditional car companies that use the Huawei Hongmeng system are all traditional car companies with weak self-research capabilities, and car companies that have a little strength and are unwilling to be controlled by others are building their own R&D teams, or taking a wait-and-see attitude. Wei Xiaoli and other new forces are very cautious about their cooperation with Huawei, and want to control the core technology in their own hands.

This is very similar to the situation of car companies in intelligent driving. Either develop it by themselves and invest a lot of manpower and material resources, or cooperate with Huawei and hand over the “soul”. This is a trade-off between short-term and long-term interests.

An investor who is concerned about the direction of smart cars said to Shentu: “For many OEMs, when it comes to the choice of vehicle system, it is Huawei’s Hongmeng or not, and the OEMs are stubbornly resisting, so they look for OPPO for this type of development cooperation. “

Many people expressed surprise that Weilai wants to build a mobile phone, and some even think that it is not doing a good job. In fact, Weilai is not attacking, but defending. Li Bin, chairman of Weilai, said that Weilai users are increasingly relying on the use of mobile phones to control vehicles, and the “car keys” will be passive in the hands of other companies.

Now that the mobile phone market has become a red ocean, there is no need for car companies to launch a new mobile phone to take a share of the pie. They are fighting for the initiative of the car. Geely’s acquisition of Meizu mobile phones is based on similar considerations.

Control and Anti-Control

In terms of how to cooperate with car companies, different mobile phone manufacturers have different attitudes.

Huawei is the strongest, which makes some car companies uncomfortable.

Xu Ke was deeply involved in the cooperation negotiation between an independent brand and Huawei. He recalled that the two sides had a good conversation at the beginning, but it was difficult to proceed at the operational level. It is a huge challenge and uncontrollable.”

Car companies have the willingness to cooperate, but do not want to transfer too many permissions. Huawei hopes that car companies will open up their permissions. This is where the contradiction arises.

“OEMs themselves will be slower in technological innovation. Those matching parameters are very core things. If these data are taken away by suppliers, car companies will have no sense of security.” Xu Ke said.

No car company is willing to be controlled by other companies, let alone an “outsider”. In the automotive industry, OEMs belong to the “ten thousand years old” and have always been the first party. The automobile industry has formed a common psychology, thinking that the automobile industry is the most high-end and the most difficult in the entire civil industry, so there will be arrogance. In addition, due to the inherent characteristics of production mode and organizational form, the automotive industry is relatively closed.

But now car companies must be open, because traditional car companies are not good at intelligence, which is precisely the strength of many mobile phone manufacturers.

Xu Ke used to be the relevant person in charge of the automotive sectors of SAIC, Geely, and Haier. He told Shentu that traditional car companies are not open, or do not welcome people from other industries, but should consider protecting themselves and keeping themselves in a safe zone , “For example, do a limited release, and then give developers more flexible matching and programming.”

Therefore, to cooperate with car companies, scale, scale, and boundaries are very important.

Not all mobile phone makers are as strong as Huawei. SAIC rejected Huawei and accepted the cooperation of OPPO.

OPPO launched a cross-end system called Pantanal at the end of August. In the official introduction, this is not an independent operating system, but a middleware between the operating system and the software layer. OPPO has repeatedly emphasized that it will not build cars, do not seek leadership, and will not bypass car companies. The core data and control authority are still in the hands of car companies.

Xu Ke said that OPPO actually made a deeper expansion on the basis of Apple CarPlay, and created a computing area between the mobile phone and the car. Vehicle resources, the vehicle is both the input terminal and the display terminal of the mobile phone.

This is not technically difficult, it is an innovation in the application mode of thinking. The biggest difficulty lies in the need for OEMs to open protocols. The ports in the protocol are well protected by the vehicle system, and the bayonet is very dead. Now it is equivalent to opening up a special channel for mobile phones.

The tricky thing about OPPO is that it takes the initiative to lower its profile and give the right to speak to car companies, which makes it easier to gain the trust of car companies.

However, this scheme is also very limited. In Chen Ming’s view, OPPO’s so-called middleware is a software transfer protocol, similar to a video format converter, with questionable efficiency and stability, unable to exert the power of big data and AI. “Intelligence without a unified operating system is pseudo-intelligence.”

From this point of view, in the cooperation between SAIC and OPPO, OPPO has not touched the core area, and its role is still a Tier 1.

“The cooperation between mobile phone manufacturers and car companies is like playing chess. One attack and one defense depends on who is better at chess. If the attack is slow, it may delay the fighters. If the attack is urgent, it may be besieged by others. Section on in-depth analysis.

In essence, this is the result of a head-on collision between the mobile phone industry and the auto industry. The old pattern is disintegrated. In the process of establishing a new order, everyone wants to hold the right to speak in their own hands.

Although Huawei does not build cars, its systems, software and hardware have already entered the car; Apple’s starting point and attitude are high, and it has shown its edge with ten years of sharpening; OPPO is taking every step, and its true ambition is unknown; Xiaomi is trying to combine consumer electronics and automobiles. Open up the industry and re-establish a set of standards.

In this process, how car companies choose partners and balance the complex interest pattern will be a long-term issue they will face next.

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