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Blurring the Line Between Cars and Consumer Electronics

This post is in response to a Jul 25, 2013 article by Susan Kuchinskas entitled “Blurring the Line Between Cars and Consumer Electronics” published in the online magazine “Telematics Update”.

Contrary to what Ms. Kuchinskas says in her opening sentence (“The consumer electronics industry has trained consumers to crave novelty, selection and personalization – and consumers will pay a premium for it”), I respectfully submit the consumer electronics industry did not “train” anyone to buy anything. They simply did what the car industry did not do: give people what they want, anticipate what they need, know the difference between the two, and create a platform where creative app developers and entrepreneurs have a reasonable shot at success. The car manufacturing industry could have done the same thing but didn’t for the same reason Sony could have invented the iPod but didn’t. The technology, the culture, and the business models were just too far outside their paradigm to allow it to happen.

But as for Kuchinskas’ assertion that it is “not a fair race” due to life cycle discrepancies ~ poppycock! Are tires, or windshield wiper blades, expected to last 15 years? Are they any less a factor in vehicle safety? No. OEMs have used that lame life cycle excuse for too long, and meanwhile, while they fiddle and dither, drivers have taken to using mobile devices in the vehicle, a risky practice, killing themselves and us along with them. It’s a shame. Most of the lives lost to distracted driving could have been saved if OEMs had relaxed their maniacal control of the cockpit, set some standards, offered enabling technologies that mobile devices don’t, and allowed innovation to reign.

At the 2013 Conference in Detroit, Doug Claus of BMW said that all app developers want is to do “sell, sell, sell.” But he is wrong. His attitude reflects the prejudice of an industry that, like Sony before them, does not understand the app world. It appears Ms. Kuchinskas has absorbed the same prejudice. Contrary to their views, what we app developers want is to build great apps that meet both the needs and wants of the industry and its customers, and to have a reasonable shot at success. The consumer electronics industry gave us that opportunity years ago, and the results are astounding. When will the car industry do the same?

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