Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new service that allows your iPhone to take over the in-car audio system and in-dash screen display won't include popular streaming music service Pandora (NYSE:P) or Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Maps.
Not including these services makes business sense for Apple as the company is trying to compete with Pandora through its iTunes Radio and Google is planning a rival in-car product. But the moves are unlikely to be well-received by Apple's customers.
What is Apple's CarPlay?
CarPlay, which Apple introduced March 3, is an attempt to more fully integrate iPhones with the native entertainment system/in-dash screen in a variety of vehicles that its partners will soon be offering. The company described the service as follows in a launch press release.
CarPlay gives iPhone users an incredibly intuitive way to make calls, use Maps, listen to music, and access messages with just a word or a touch. Users can easily control CarPlay from the car's native interface or just push-and-hold the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri without distraction. Vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will premiere CarPlay to their drivers this week, while additional auto manufacturers bringing CarPlay to their drivers down the road include BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota Motor Corp.
CarPlay will not work with just any app that can be installed on an iPhone. Instead Apple will be working with specific partners along with offering its own services. These partners include a number of music services -- Spotify and iHeartRadio -- but not Pandora. Similarly Apple Maps will be offered but Google Maps won't.
How bad is not having Google Maps for Apple fans?
When Apple dropped Google Maps from its new iPhone operating system in 2012, it caused such a fury that the company had to issue an apology and explain to customers how to add other map services.
"While we're improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app," Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in an open letter to Apple customers.
The lack of Google Maps in CarPlay may not be as big a deal now, however, as Apple has greatly improved its own Maps app.
"Apple Maps has thankfully improved dramatically since its disastrous launch. In my experience it's nearly on par with Google Maps. It just lacks the web integration and extra data available on Google Maps like the destination's StreetView along with some pertinent review data," wrote TechCrunch's Matt Burns.
Will Pandora lovers revolt?
Pandora reports listener hours rather than user numbers, and in 2013 "total listener hours grew 23% to 16.7 billion for the calendar year of 2013, compared to 13.51 billion for the calendar year of 2012," the company said. Pandora does not report how many users it has on iPhones, but the company's app ranked 19 in the iPhones app store as of March 5, and was the top of the music chart.
Apple is likely excluding Pandora as a way to push its own similar iTunes Radio service. That may anger some Pandora fans, but it's not as critical a problem as having faulty maps. Not being able to use Pandora through CarPlay won't get you lost or point your car toward a river.
Pandora had a measured response to being left out as the company clearly needs to stay on Apple's good side.
"At this time, Pandora is not integrated with Apple CarPlay. As a first mover in the auto space, we continue to broaden our relationships with OEMs while also exploring other opportunities to expand our presence in the car. Apple has been and continues to be a valued partner," the company said in a statement sent to MacRumors.com.
Apple tends to get what it wants
Other than its 2012 misstep and apology over Google Maps, Apple has generally been able to get what it wants and push other companies around. The company has dictated terms with the music industry with the iTunes store, has steadfastly kept Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) Flash off its products, and has maintained very strict standards in its app store. In this case, as long as Apple's Map app works, it seems unlikely Google devotees will grouse too much.
Pandora fans might be a different story as there is a time investment put into building a Pandora "radio station." Still it seems unlikely that not being able to use Pandora in the most convenient way possible will cause any sort of mass revolt or force Apple to change its mind. Some Pandora fans will likely use one of the CarPlay offerings and some will choose to use Pandora but not through CarPlay.
Leaving Google Maps and Pandora out of CarPlay is a business decision where Apple's customer are inconvenienced, but probably not enough to make them protest or decide to switch away from the iPhone.