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Choosing an OS (operating system) is a tricky predicament. Will the OS be relevant for the long term? Are there a large number of apps built for that particular OS? Is the system secure? This is especially the case in the world of M2M and IoT (Internet of Things).

I recently came across a report that points to Android as a leader in the embedded and M2M space. The report from VDC Research—Android in the Embedded Systems & M2M Markets—points to improvements in performance and power consumption, UI capabilities, integrated connectivity, royalty-free licensing models, and lower price points as key drivers for Android in M2M.

Android certainly offers an interesting value proposition for M2M, as it doesn’t have quite as many constraints as Apple’s popular iOS. What’s more, the development community for Android is beefing up as of late, and giving Apple a run for its money. VDC predicts nearly one million developers will be working with Android for embedded and M2M applications by the end of 2015. That prediction certainly points to a greater positioning for Andorid going forward, with Microsoft having the most to lose. But I think Apple might still be a contender.

Let’s look at one market in particular—automotive. Automotive manufacturers face the challenge of determining what type of technology to put in the car, as they need to ensure the technology remains viable throughout the life of a vehicle. And Android is quickly becoming the OS of choice for many connected-car systems. VDC even suggests that while smartphones and tablets will remain the greatest areas for Android-based systems, medical devices and connected-car systems will generate the highest annual growth rates through 2015.

Don’t count Apple out of automotive just yet though. The company has its eye on the connected-car space. The tech giant’s iOS in the Car is a system that integrates iOS devices with the in-dash system. Not yet available, this system could shake up the automotive space, as Apple looks to get in cars. ABI Research even forecasts iOS in the Car will be in half of all in-vehicle infotainment systems by 2018.

Chevrolet already sees Apple as a player in the market, announcing vehicles with Chevrolet MyLink will be available with Siri Eyes Free Integration beginning on the 2014 models. And Chevy isn’t alone. Still, there are others in the space concerned about the challenges that Apple’s iOS presents to M2M and IoT. For example, many of the connected-car features such as navigation would likely be controlled by Apple—something some car makers aren’t willing to give up.

Automotive manufacturers have some tough decisions to make regarding the connected car going forward. These decisions will not only impact internal revenue streams, but also how consumers interact with data in cars for years to come.

And so the question remains: Is iOS or Android best for M2M and IoT? The answer might not be a one-size-fits-all type of solution. Rather, decisionmakers need to keep an eye on the horizon, understand the pros and cons of each operating system, and make decisions for the long term.

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