In a recent interview, Musk made reference to the possibility of an app store for Teslas. Tesla also recently announced Arcade, a new game hub and essentially a mini “app store” of classic games. With Arcade, Tesla already has the seeds of an App Store.
Adding an App Store to Tesla OS and ultimately making it a platform for 3rd party developers is a pivotal move. Historically, major platforms like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Google generated incredible value, scale and defensive position (a moat) by leveraging a network of 3rd party developers to build for the platform. It’ll be fascinating to see how such dynamics play out in the emerging arena of automotive OS’s.
There are large implications if we frame automotive as a platform similar to PCs, smartphones and TVs. Duopolies tend to emerge for networked platforms. Those duopolies eventually drive the overwhelming value in those ecosystems. Microsoft & Apple for PCs. Apple & Android for smartphones. Roku and FireTV for TVs. (Yes, the last is still debatable.)
What if network effects eventually take automotive in that direction too?
The obvious response... “There’s no way GM, VW, or Toyota would ever cede their position to a 3rd party.” That may be true. Nonetheless, Nokia, Motorola and RIM were all dominating leaders in smartphones with a similar stance before things headed toward iOS and Android. (Notably, neither Apple nor Google had an incumbent position in the industry.) And, while the future may not be written for TVs and Samsung, LG and Vizio, a trajectory is emerging around Roku and FireTV, also two non-incumbents.
Network effects tend to seed quietly, take root without fanfare and then scale very fast. The hockey stick.
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