GM Creates New Position for Software Division, Hires Apple Cloud's Abbot

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

On Tuesday, General Motors confirmed Apple’s Mike Abbott as the executive vice president of its Software division — an important role considering that the automaker is betting large on shifting revenue toward connectivity. The company has been stressing the importance of integrated mobile services for years and recently announced it would be dumping Apple CarPlay so that drivers would be required to interface with its proprietary operating system.

Abbott headed the team responsible for developing the brunt of Apple’s cloud-based services including. If you’ve ever used iCloud, iMessage, Apple Mail, or Private Relay, then you’re familiar with his work — or at least the products that core infrastructure ended up producing.

This new executive role at GM was crafted specifically for Abbot and to ensure that the automaker’s Ultifi software platform continues to evolve into something profitable. As more manufacturers move toward the concept of “software-defined vehicles” (often to the chagrin of consumers and the entire right-to-repair movement) coding will become increasingly important.

“I'm a product person at heart, so as the transformation of transportation quickly accelerates, I know that software is the catalyst for redefining experiences for consumers and enterprises like never before," Abbott stated. "GM is playing a pivotal role in this shift and I'm excited to join the team and bring my experience in software to bear to not only take advantage of the massive opportunities that lay ahead for the company but to help change the world."

General Motors wants to start leveraging subscription services until it becomes a meaningful source of revenue. Like most brands, it’s also keen on the idea of offering over-the-air updates to vehicles in lieu of on-site repairs. EVs are allegedly supposed to help with this, as they’re mechanically less complicated than combustion-engine vehicles. 

We’ve been talking about it for years at this point. But the fact remains that this is a fundamentally different way for the industry to operate. Carmakers want to be less like traditional manufacturers selling tangible goods and more like the giant tech conglomerates focused on services/data. Considering how Big Tech’s market capitalization has been over the last few years, this could have been a colossal misstep.

However, a lot of companies are already committed to the cause and don’t appear interested in turning back. For better or worse, GM’s leadership has a pretty clear picture of what the future of the industry looks like in their heads and they seem committed toward bringing it to fruition.

"We have entered the next phase of our technology driven transformation focused on rapidly scaling new EV models and our Ultifi software platform, which will drive faster innovation and enable new and exciting customer experiences," General Motors CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "Mike's experience as a founder and entrepreneur coupled with his proven track record creating and delivering some of the market's most compelling software-defined solutions for consumers and companies make him an excellent fit at GM."

[Image: Linda Parton/Shutterstock]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Ssjoeloc Ssjoeloc on May 10, 2023

    Is there a single model that GM makes that is so good that people will look past the fact it does not have Apple CarPlay/Android Auto? I think once they remove this, the fleet/rental crowd will be in an uproar. The die hard GM people are not a large enough group to keep them in the game without one of the top 3 must have features for buyers in the prime demographics. I know some of the fan boys/gals on here will be saying it is not a must have...but im talking about the vast majority of buyers who are entering there prime car buying years. This is a massive mistake. I know plenty of buyers who will literally filter out cars that are missing Carplay/AA.

    I have watched people at rental counters and service lanes reject cars without carplay...they would rather drive a versa or accent with carplay/AA instead of a loaded SUV without it (like a previous gen Pathfinder that never had it available)

    • Theflyersfan Theflyersfan on May 11, 2023

      When Toyota was only using their Entune infotainment package, I had to give a hard NO to some rentals. Although one time, there was no choice so I had a C-HR with no AA/CarPlay and only Entune. I recall that needing an app on the phone and it wanted to lock parts of it out and it was just way too intrusive.

  • Spectator Spectator on May 11, 2023

    GM has an interesting strategy here, let’s see if it pays off for them.

  • Ajla "Gee, wonder why car (as well as home) insurance rates are much higher in places like Florida..." Severe weather is on the list but even if a benevolent genie reverted the climate to circa 1724 I think FL would still have high cost. Our home insurance rates have increased 102% since 2021 and I don't think weather models account for that much of a change in that period. Florida's insurance assignment of benefit regulation meant that it had ~80% of the country's of the insurance lawsuits on ~12% of the nation's claims and litigated claims can be expensive to insurance companies. The state altered some regulations and is having some success on getting more companies back, even with the severe weather risks, through relatively bipartisan efforts. With car insurance just beyond the basic "Florida" stuff, the population increase of the past few years is overwhelming the roads. But, I think the biggest thing is we have very low mandated car insurance levels. Only $10K personal injury and $10K property damage. No injury liability needed. And 20% of the state has no insurance. So people that actually want insurance pay out the nose. Like I commented above my under/uninsured coverage alone is 2.5x my comprehensive & collision.
  • Juan Let's do an 1000 mile drive and see who gets there first.
  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
  • Crown Seems like they cut some cylinders too.A three cylinder...where are they planning on selling that??