It’s a pleasure to speak to you,
Steve. Let us start by asking you to
tell us more about the mission of the
Our mission is to develop
an open source middleware for in-vehicle
infotainment (IVI) systems that helps
companies reduce the cycle time they need
to produce them. These systems are growing,
both in size and in the complexity of their
software. Their cycle time is around three to
five years—much longer than other systems.
Open source is the basis for reducing this
cycle time. We aim to lower this and make
convergence of electronics into cars possible.
Very interesting. The Alliance has
a growing membership of many leading
companies, some of them competitors.
What is motivating them to work together?
The interactions depend on
company groupings. The technical work of the
Alliance is divided into seven different expert
groups based on problems we are working
on. These groups are led and populated by
volunteers. Generally speaking, they meet
in person about two to three times per year
and work virtually for the rest of the year.
The face-to-face aspect is crucial for building trust. If I were to give a percentage, I’d say
our globally dispersed members work 20
percent physically in face-to-face meetings,
and 80 percent virtually using different
digital tools such as Web-based platforms
and teleconferencing technologies.
What are some of the key
challenges of working together, especially
This is a great question.
There are multiple issues to work around.
Automotive companies are simply not used
to giving away software. What needs to
take place is a fundamental shift in thinking
toward a new mentality that supports giving
something away as opposed to selling it.
In our model, everything is open and free.
Automotive companies are also secretive
about who produces their products. Most
organizations that are comfortable and
successful with open source have made
tremendous shifts in their organizational
processes and mentality.
In addition, there needs to be a shift
in thinking around collaborating with
competitors. The scope of our work is very
important here. We hold aggressively to
our mission that is only concerned with the
non-differentiating aspects of IVI systems.
The OEMs are not submitting thoughts on
what makes the driving experience in a
BMW different from a Peugeot, for example.
Rather, they are submitting the commodity
part of what needs to be done for everyone.
We are trying to give an inexpensive head
start to something that requires thousands of
lines of code. This collaboration is a win-win
situation for everyone, but, as I said, it needs
a shift in thinking around collaborating with
competitors around non-competitive aspects
of IVI systems.
There are other challenges as well such
as legal risk management. You can create
software in open source and later find out
someone has a patent on it. What do you
do if that happens?
But doesn’t working on
non-differentiating aspects of these IVI
systems together mean companies can
focus on things that do differentiate
them? That should be a great incentive
Definitely. Companies don’t
need to focus so much on things that they all
have to do—these are commodities. They can
instead focus on things that truly differentiate
them and make their customer experience
better. Essentially that frees up time and
resources for suppliers and automakers.
These resources can then be redeployed on
new and differentiable features. In that sense,
it is accelerating innovation in the industry
That’s a great way to think about
it. Does the Alliance have competitors of
There are other alliances in
this space. The Automotive Grade Linux
Working Group of the Linux Foundation is
one. They are making Linux auto-capable.
We are an influencer and a consumer of
that but not their competitor. Google’s Open
Automotive Alliance is another alliance with
which we collaborate on producing open
interfaces to their technology.
Let us end by asking you about
the key to success of the GENIVI Alliance.
The Alliance has grown
tremendously, with members from multiple
industries. I work for a company called
Global Inventures. Building alliances of
this kind is what we specialize in. There is
a process that we go through to incubate
an alliance. It’s not a science but it is
repeatable. You always want to start with
a few established organizations. Once they
become committed, they act as magnets for
attracting others. So these alliances need
a strong secretariat—not only to record
activities, but also for running the alliance.
A lot of our members know how to run their
own organization, but not an alliance. Lastly,
not deviating from our mission is significant.
Alliances of this sort need to have a clear
mission and stick very closely to it.
Thank you, Steve, for your time
and excellent insights.
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