By on November 3, 2014

Google-Android-KitKat

Google knows what you’re thinking. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.”

Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG aren’t too thrilled with this electric eye’s ability, urging its fellow automakers to develop automotive data platforms that would secure sensitive customer information from the Mountain View, Calif. tech giant.

According to Bloomberg, VW boss Martin Winterkorn says that while his company seeks a connection with Google’s data systems, it still wants to have dominion over its own vehicles, citing “potential conflict” rising from making consumer data available to Google. Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche stated similar concerns with Google:

Google tries to accompany people throughout their day, to generate data and then use that data for economic gain. It’s at that point where a conflict with Google seems pre-programmed. That’s where we need to negotiate.

Zetsche also found the discussion of in-house data systems among automakers like his company and Volkswagen encouraging, proclaiming the move would maintain independence against the rising tide of “third parties,” such as Google’s Android Auto, Apple’s CarPlay and BlackBerry’s QNX OS, as it would “boost” Daimler’s position “when working with Google.”

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32 Comments on “Daimler, Volkswagen Urge Independence From Google Data Platform...”


  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Meh. I made it all the way to “brown dies” before AutoComplete showed the Unobtanium 6MTAWDBDSW

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “.. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.”..”

    Hilarious! That phrase made my Monday!

    Now seriously: this is part of the fallout of the NSA scandal. The German can’t yet forgive the US government for spying on Frau Merkel.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Zetsche also found the discussion of in-house data systems among automakers like his company and Volkswagen encouraging”

    Ah, yes, good old Teutonic NIH syndrome.

    It’s the same attitude that had Bosch shipping some of the most irritating data systems (weird copy-protected CDs that required you to cough up for a changer robot) long past the point that other manufacturers just used PDF and/or the web.

    ETA: I just don’t get it. It’s not like any of the OEMs are any good at this; GM’s OnStar is probably as good as it gets, and that’s only because they pay a raft of people to answer the phone.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      +1

      And to top it off, all they really want to do is move consumer behavior tracking data away from Google, and move it to someone else that they just personally feel more comfortable with/feel they can extract more of potential revenue from.

      Consumers, at least sane ones, are concerned about their behavior being tracked. Not who is doing it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Tesla is.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Daimler and VW: here’s whatcha do.

    A.) Set up your own country.

    B.) Tell the fine citizens of your own country not to be Google searching anything that they shouldn’t. Set parameters and let it be known.

    C.) Unleash the web police and pinkertons!

    Downside: prepare for backlash from Google and humans rights outcries from citizens worldwide. (“There not allowing them an education!”)

    Well, it’s a thought at least.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Ahhh, I see!

    It wouldn’t be a fantastic Monday without The ‘ol first-comment-submitted-disappearing-trick, courtesy of TTAC.

    And to think I gave it a thought of retyping and resubmitting!

    A thousand lashes for you, TTAC.

  • avatar
    rehposolihp

    I had to type “brown diesel” before autocomplete got that far.

    But my primary search engine is DuckDuckGo and my browser clears everything when I close it. Maybe the conclusion to draw is that car companies aren’t the people who need to look at different search engines, but consumers are. Google is not your friend – and when it narrows your search horizons because it thinks that is what you want – you are missing out on the bounty of the internet.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I checked that website, Duckduckgo.com

    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Sounds like they want Google to point all car searches to VW. A better solution would be for users to use a non-tracking search like duckduckgo.com

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Google has stated they really want their search engine to function like the bridge computer in Star Trek. I think that would be awesome.

    “COMPUTER, tell me the location of the nearest bathroom in this quadrant.” ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Do you have sufficient quatloos?

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I’ve noticed my android phone is getting exceptional at picking up basic around town requests. It isn’t perfect but it is far closer than it used to be. Than again I don’t mind being tracked because inevitably that data is being drawn either way, I mind as well get the benefit of it. I barely use social media but why miss out on good Creole when I can just use google and urbanspoon?

  • avatar

    Google is full of smart guys, and a lot of their software is great. Anyone remember web searches before Google? You used to have to think in computer code to get relevant search results. Now search engines are borderline psychic.
    Having said that, at this point anything Google knows, the US Government knows. This is also true of Apple and Microsoft, but since Google is better and more efficient at mining data, the government learns more from them. You may dismiss this as tinfoil hat paranoia, but believe me, it is the truth. If you are worried current and future privacy, this should concern you. You may also see this as inevitable and inescapable, and it may well be.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “Anyone remember web searches before Google?”

      Yep, Boolean searches that could laser-in on precisely what you wanted. Not goo-goo, hyperactive jumpy-up UIs that are more annoying than even the gifs and embedded video crap frollicking in the margins.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I think you’re using Google wrong. Or you’ve been hijacked.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        I don’t often agree with you, but you hit the nail on the head with this one. Search, like much of the web has turned into a high noise-to-signal environment where the content is displayed in an increasingly small window.

        I realize that websites need revenue, but seeing Bibi rise up on every single image is the sort of thing that makes me seriously consider going back to dead trees for my content. And don’t get me started on the moving windows on many sites that exist solely to hijack your mouse clicks, those things are pure evil.

        Personally, I would rather see paywalls for my favorite sites.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I sure don’t remember. I’m one of those filthy Millennials that literally cannot remember a time before Google. Ah, the halcyon days of youth, when we thought there was something worthwhile on the second page of results…

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        I liked AltaVista which now redirects to Yahoo and for the real old timers I used Gopher.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      It’s a bit more concerning wrt car telematics. As long as your interactions with the ‘net is from standardized commodity boxes, a bit of effort can do a decent job at obfuscating any trails you leave.

      But until dronedom grows up and throws aside hundred+ years of pervasive indoctrination, leading them to accept that the vehicle they drive is tieable to themselves personally, largely unaffordable without loans that are ditto, and then unmodifiable lest one damages “someone else’s” property, anonymity while driving will largely remain a chimera reserved for free people.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      “Anyone remember web searches before Google?”
      Before Google, we had Yahoo. Back then, Yahoo actually categorized the web. You could find anything you wanted to diving into a category first.
      The web has probably grown to the point where that’s not practical, but it sure was nice.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I used to use goto.com and aggregates like Dogpile… it wasn’t bad. I have always hated yahoo for search. I do remember the first time using google back in 2001. I was blown away. I think overall it was better back then, when relevance couldn’t be bought.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      This is actually a bit confusing if we can set aside that I’m by all means a socialist: The government who is made up of elected officials who abide by the will of the people surprisingly more often than not has vague and inadmissible data. This is what scares people in this country though we have had zero reports of secret police kidnappings or anything even appearing to be actual useful eavesdropping on American citizens. Not that it should be happening, but just to put this in perspective.

      But we’re completely ok with large corporations snooping around in our personal lives and never seem to mind when they make completely arbitrary decisions based on this snooping (i.e. your credit report, your behaviors correlated into a graph). Nobody minds that google does this only that google may share it with people who can’t use it to arrest you or harm you in any meaningful way.

      That being said: Please go back to your conspicuous consumption and pay no mind to the man behind the curtain.

  • avatar
    jvossman

    Serious answer is that both are German based companies, where privacy is a big deal. I think this might a PR move trageting their domestic market. While most people say they don’t want to share their personal data, if sharing the data enables their google maps enabled German car to avoid traffic jams better, I doubt they would care.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I just can never get super excited about “OMG I must maintain all secrecy around online activity!!”

    If you saw my browsing history, you’d determine I spend too much time on car forums and blogs, make bad jokes on facebook, buy mundane stuff on Amazon, and like college girl pr0n. God forbid anyone ever found out.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      It’s more than just that. Search for Obama or VW in Google and then DuckDuckGo, and see how the sites are ranked. Google anticapates your choices, while DDG does not. It’s your choice but I prefer an unbiased search even if it’s biased by my choices.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        I’ll be straight with you my results on Google gave Pres. Obama a slightly more conservative bent with Rasmussen coming up near the top & my search for VW on DDG was completely generic since it had no idea where I was and simply filtered the top results rather than the top VW.com & then random dealers.

        I’m sure an in-depth research would show differences but it seems to just be a less aware version of Google’s search.

  • avatar
    tedward

    This seems like the right kind of pushback to me. Leaving their consumers vulnerable to a change in policy in a third party vendor in regards to their privacy rights should be very worrying for manufacturers. Their existing data vendors operate under contracts that delineate exactly what happens to customer info. This industry runs on reputation more so than immediate results, for evidence look at how we all discuss reliability and service issues.

    On the other hand the manufacturers then have to let those vendors charge consumers directly, hence the rise of $200+ a year subscriptions for traffic, onstar type systems, satellite radio, navigation updates, and the list will grow. I personally really enjoy Google’s free services and use their nav etc…but if management changes and they start selling my info to robocallers or whomever it would currently be easy for me to ditch them. If their systems are tied into a vehicle I own, not so much.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    The bottom line here is that VW and Daimler are balking at the notion of creating an environment where they make money when the vehicle is sold, but Google goes on to make money even after the sale and the maker doesn’t.

    This is nominally about privacy but is actually about wanting to get a piece of the action.

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