Wednesday, 2 July 2014

What should in-car computers do?

Dedicated navigation devices for cars are very likely on the way out, being displaced by free services on smartphones like Google Maps. The question for me is what's next for those companies and what's next for car hardware. The companies, if they're smart about it, will want to switch to providing their navigation software as apps on the major phone systems. They might try charging money for them, which may be taken up by enough people if their product is superior. Most manufacturers will probably fail, though.

As for in-car hardware, I think the latest batch of high-end in-car stereos offers a horrifying glimpse into the future. A lot of car manufacturers seem to have caught wind of the idea that "Those young people today like the Twitters, right? Can we put all the social medias in our cars?" It's awful, it's distracting (in an age when distraction is becoming the number 1 killer on our roads) and it misses the point entirely.

What we should be trying to put in our car computers are things like:

- GPS logging and navigation
- Fuel usage and other instrumentation
- Music storage, sync and playback
- Dashcam integration

The one thing I'm not yet sure about is whether these in-car computers should be providing their own wireless connectivity or should be linking to smartphones. Each way has its pros and cons. My best guess is that at least one manufacturer will try to lock you into an ongoing mobile data subscription for your car computer that only works with their network.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If someone makes a bad product, you can be sure they'll try to handcuff you to it.
PPS - The next best thing to customer loyalty is customer imprisonment.

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