John Robb asks if Cars are becoming O/Ss. Absolutely not. Operating systems are intermediaries between hardware and software applications – two sided network effects. Cars with 700 page users manuals are becoming applications. Applications with very weak network effects. (As an aside their collision avoidance systems can have network effects since the more cars/planes/etc. that adopt them the more effective they become.)
Failing to find a auto-OS they can rendezvous around is not a particularly good architecture for the auto industry. Retaining control over that software frustrates innovation on both the hardware and user facing sides. I’m reminded of the old story of Adobe, who wiped out a lot of in-house printer software teams. Maybe somebody will do the same to the in-house auto application teams. A similar mess frustrates scale and innovation in the real time control industry.
Of course the most amusing element of all this would be terminology. Imagine a future where you can swap out your car’s engine for an alternate just as we swap graphic cards and disk drives on computers today. Of course at that point you couldn’t sit down and drive away until you loaded up some new drivers.