Q&A, Albert Jordan, HARMAN: On building a platform for connected vehicles

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Developer spoke with Albert Jordan, VP of Ignite Automotive Cloud at Samsung subsidiary HARMAN, about building a platform for connected vehicles and why developers should come along for the ride.

Developer: Why should developers launch apps on the Ignite Store over other automotive app platforms?

Albert Jordan: Aside from the Google Automotive Services (GAS) Play Store, there are no standard Android app stores deployed commercially. OEMs have tried to deploy their own app stores, but have not been successful. What’s needed is a solution that will scale across multiple OEMs, which Ignite Store endeavours to do.

Trying to get new apps and services into vehicles has always been a challenge. In the past, it required years of negotiation, design reviews, integration testing, and drive testing to even get one application into a vehicle. The HARMAN Ignite Store Developers Portal dramatically shortens and streamlines the entire process so applications can get into the automotive ecosystem and to consumers faster. Together, the HARMAN Ignite Service Delivery Platform (SDP), HARMAN Ignite Store and HARMAN Ignite Store Developers Portal enable the easy introduction, deployment, management, personalisation and monetisation of innovative and value-added cloud applications, services and apps.

We believe the HARMAN Ignite Store Developers Portal offers a number of significant benefits for developers. You build for our store, which can then be deployed to multiple OEM systems. As a result, applications can be developed and certified just the once instead of for individual manufacturers or systems. Throughout the entire process, developers maintain complete control. While the agreement that prospective developers sign with HARMAN provides access to many of the top global automotive OEMS, it is also possible to target specific regions, brands and/or vehicles with apps. Developers can consistently monitor an application’s performance and receive insights to apply experience enhancements to future versions.

Collaboration is at the heart of what HARMAN does, so as well as the above benefits, developers will also receive access to resources including toolkits, technical documentation, best practices, code samples, trainings and other development aids – along with the ability to collaborate, test and document applications directly within the portal.

D: What safety features does the platform employ?

AJ: HARMAN is focused on development and deployment of templatised apps. In this paradigm, content providers develop headless apps, and the OEM develops apps that surface third party content through templates that they deem necessary to address distracted driving guidelines.

In addition, cybersecurity is one of HARMAN’s core competencies and something we invest in heavily – it is a fundamental aspect of consumer safety and security. As a company, we implement cybersecurity across the entire product development and deployment lifecycle.

D: Is user data kept private or does the vehicle manufacturer or HARMAN collect usage info? If so, what is collected?

AJ: Our goal is to ensure total customer privacy. HARMAN only has access to anonymised user data to allow operation of the store.

D: Do you have any integrations with smart infrastructure at this point?

AJ: This is something we’re currently working on.

Earlier this year, HARMAN announced the acquisition of Savari, a Silicon Valley-based automotive technology company developing vehicle-to-everything communications (V2X) technologies. Its acquisition is an important step in expanding HARMAN’s offering across 5G Edge, multi-access edge computing (MEC) and smart infrastructure solutions.

D: How many vehicles do you expect will support the HARMAN Store by year-end?

AJ: In the automotive industry, we work on around four-year production cycles, so we are looking further ahead than year-end. We have big ambitions for the HARMAN Ignite Store. More than 50 million vehicles on the road currently feature audio and connected car systems from HARMAN.

Today, we are in conversation with several OEMs about extending our relationship with Ignite, and have two global OEMs signed and on board, but we cannot disclose the brands. There is a lot on offer for OEMs – from stand out experiences for customers, to new digital revenue streams and a reduction of traditional costs associated with pursuing new technology solutions.

D: And how many apps are you targeting to achieve?

AJ: Our current plan is to hit 100 apps and then double the size of the ecosystem each year after. Of course, we have to consider targets of how many apps can be processed and approved, and are focusing on the quality of the apps to ensure they run smoothly within the vehicle.

D: Do you have a venture fund or similar incentive to get developers building apps for Ignite?

AJ: As part of the launch, we will have several resources to support developers who are building apps for the HARMAN Ignite Store, including co-promotion programmes, developer incentives, and on-boarding packages.

Interested developers can find out more information and visit the new Ignite Store Developers Portal here.

(Photo by Anders Jildén on Unsplash)

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