ByteDance to steer into Internet of Vehicles domain

Whether it's an in-vehicle operating system or not, ByteDance needs to find its own place in the IoV (Internet of Vehicles) as soon as possible.

Previously, ByteDance announced its entry into the IoV field, and some insiders said that ByteDance may have the intention of entering the in-vehicle operating system, and that a car operating system with a feature of functional safety would be one of its considerations.

If having a strong social product can provide ByteDance with a "traffic perpetual motion machine" on the mobile internet, then it will be a good idea to have a strong social product. With its existing products it already has such as Douyin and Xigua Video, it can establish a deeper vertical relationship with the car companies.

So, having an in-vehicle operating system that is safe, stable, fast-responsive, ecologically rich, and a good human-computer interaction experience is a carrier of related cars that ByteDance has found for content and AI algorithms in the era of smart cars.

To this end, ByteDance should invest more resources and efforts.


More than just automotive infotainment system solutions

On May 18, ByteDance announced it was expanding into a new field - cars.

ByteDance officially set up a team that focuses on IoV (Internet of Vehicles) business and plans to roll out its own automotive infotainment solutions, which can boost its mobile Internet products like Douyin and Xigua Video to land in vehicle terminals.

It is reported that the team is led by Chen Lin, former CEO of Toutiao. Its R&D staff is mainly allocated from the Smartisan team, and there are about 20 people, product and business from outside recruitment. 

Although ByteDance has already officially announced the news of entering the IoV (Internet of Vehicles) field, saying:"we are doing some exploration to meet the users' experience in in-vehicle scenarios." However, according to Chinese tech news site 36kr, ByteDance has long had ambitions and layouts to enter the automotive sector.

• Participating in Chinese EV startup Leading Ideal's Series C financing with $30 million;

• A visit to Great Wall Motors and Geely's subsidiary company, ECARX;

• A meet with Ying Yilun(Ken), chairman of Xiaomi-invested PATEO;

• Several exchanges with Leading Ideal based on the Internet of Vehicles business.

In addition, industry insiders said, ByteDance has internally studied various routes about the Internet of Vehicles business. The first is to have a try of carrying content such as Douyin and other videos in the car, and of course, the follow-up does not rule out going deeper into the development of the underlying technology, as there will be more and more demand from car companies in this area.

In fact, early on, Zhang Yiming once said that ByteDance's business strategy would be oriented towards Tencent + Huawei.

He believes that the more powerful a company is, the more it has to go to the bottom, but also to a field of "infrastructure", such as the underlying operating system, chip, cloud.

For now, ByteDance that has grown into an Internet giant introduced Douyin, Xigua Video and other major products in the in-vehicle operating system, which is still stuck in the upper, it's hard to be seen as infrastructure. Meanwhile, it also falls short of Zhang's original vision.

The purpose of ByteDance's first related layout in the Internet of Vehicles business is an attempt to build a mobile smart space content system, which is also another attempt to realize the accumulation and traffic of its existing products and automotive technology.

For ByteDance, it means not only opportunities, but also more challenges ahead for it. On the one hand, there are limited scenarios, and on the other hand, in-vehicle entertainment has a low user stickiness compared to mobile phones, so it doesn't make sense to only do vehicle infotainment system solutions.

Therefore, the "vehicle infotainment solution" may just be the first step, as a latecomer in the Internet of Vehicles track, ByteDance may need more business layout to build its own in-vehicle operating system.

From investment to layout, ByteDance's expansion in the automotive vertical industry is based on the existing upper products for commercialization. And it's also something that Zhang mentioned which others haven't done well. That's why for ByteDance in-vehicle operating systems should be more than simply exploring human-computer interaction scenarios from the phone to the cabin.

Don't overlook the "Smartisan OS" system of Smartisan Technology that has been acquired by ByteDance. It's also the pre-existing technology reserve for this do-over.

In 2013, Smartisan Technology released its self-developed Smartisan operating system based on Android's deep optimization and improvement OS system, which is also available for the TNT large screen operating system. Such technical reserves, staffing and the way to get on the car are very similar to BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent).

BAT's layout in the IoV also has two parts, one of which is to bring star products into the car such as Amap, Baidu Map, in-vehicle WeChat, etc.; the other part is the operating system development team for car enterprises.

The entry of Douyin is just a bridge to connect with car companies, the real follow-up big investment is to seize the opportunity of the rise of "Intelligent Connected Vehicle development under the background of the in-vehicle OS".

According to the logic of ByteDance that focuses on the underlying technology, Zhang Yiming should not miss this opportunity.


The development of in-vehicle OS and AI scenario is double insurance

In the automotive sector, in-vehicle OS includes the safety-related control system OS and the user experience-related IVI system. As the application of automated driving gets closer and closer, in-vehicle operating systems soon enter the attention of automotive industry giants, and have been deployed. In-vehicle OS in the context of the development of Intelligent Connected Vehicle, will also usher in a wave of competition.

Like in-vehicle infotainment systems, in-vehicle operating systems will be key points of business defense that ByteDance has to fight for. 

The direct reason is that new changes will inevitably give rise to new business ecology, which is an inevitable trend. The high income of smart in-vehicle device users, the average duration of a single use, and the low frequency of changing to new products make the value of the user higher and the market opportunity greater.

In addition, cars have a clear behavioral property of purpose. As long as one drives a car, one is bound to have some kind of behavioral purpose, which makes it possible to be connected between spaces and space, and between consumption scenarios and consumption scenarios together.

In turn, the user is forced to stay in such an enclosed space while the vehicle is moving, and the consumption and service creates an incentive for the user to be continuous. Therefore, the IoV (Internet of Vehicles) space will surely be the most valuable eco-industry under the interconnection of scenarios. 

ByteDance, which distributes content in the form of Apps + AI algorithms, will face the problem of how to continue its content distribution advantage in the Internet of Vehicles sector. So, if it wants to be the leader of the new era, it must be involved in the design of the "in-vehicle operating system" and have the ability to develop the underlying technology.

The deeper reason is that the competition for "in-vehicle operating systems" is no longer the same as it was in the PC and mobile Internet era. It's the disruptive opportunities that are spawned by upgrades and iterations of a certain type of hardware device.

With the proliferation of smartphones, smart cars are the next gateway to mobile connectivity. There is no doubt that mobile connectivity will usher a boom from mobile phones to cars.

The mature Internet of Vehicles market will create new disruptive opportunities, and the so-called "intelligent operating system" is a systematic collection of software that will define the car, safety-related control systems, and infotainment systems.

Those companies are likely to become the leading creator of super intelligent car OS era, such as BAT with an AI technology platform and massive amounts of data, OEMs that know more about cars, platform companies with car factories and Internet joint venture genes, Tencent Auto Intelligence, etc. 

To become a giant, ByteDance naturally needs to have the ability to build an Internet of Vehicles ecosystem and embed its own products, services, and technologies into more cars to connect and serve more users.

In fact, ByteDance lacks the foundation on which to build this capability. Therefore, in addition to catching up with BAT in terms of company scale, overall revenue, and in-vehicle entertainment system, it needs to equip itself with the ability to fight in the Internet of Vehicles competition as soon as possible.

To this end, it is necessary for ByteDance to add the double insurance of developing  in-vehicle OS and AI scenario to itself.


What other variables are there?

Even though it has a foothold in the IoV space through automotive infotainment systems, ByteDance is still not ahead in the competition about the next era.

At the moment, ByteDance is posing a degree of threat to BAT by having very good user stickiness through two star products, Toutiao and Douyin, but in the long run, it has not yet prepared the strategic depth for future competition.

For one thing, functional safety is a critical indicator of an operating system. BlackBerry QNX is the world's first vehicle operating system to be certified according to the ISO 26262 ASIL D standard. Not only the system itself, but also the hardware, software, and applications all have to pass ISO 26262, which is the ASIL A to D standard. At the operating system level, getting ASIL certified is a complex process. As a QNX Greater China engineer said, in addition to the difficulty of certification, there are also cost considerations.

Second, data security is a solid foundation. Data security is even more complex than functional security, because there are many possible vulnerabilities in it. For intelligent driving, enhanced data security is a matter of life and death, which requires it to have fine control over system permissions.

Anyway, ByteDance has a long way to go.

This is an article from WeChat official accounts Leifengwang (ID: leiphone-sz), written by Li Rong, translated by Chris Yuan.