Need to simplify technology! [Arab News (Saudi Arabia)]
(Arab News (Saudi Arabia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Adel Murad
The car industry needs to take serious steps to simplify onboard technology, use common platforms, connect with service and content providers and future proof their cars. The problem is not obvious to the average consumer now but in time this would be an issue the industry has to face.
Testing five new cars in five weeks reveals the wide variations and different standards adopted by each car company.
Each has infotainment systems that need tutorials to learn and use.
I suspect older drivers just use the basics and ignore the clusters of buttons and information on the screen.
Even younger drivers find it easier to deal with their I-phones than their car systems.
Car companies develop their own hard and software systems independently and hope that developers would add apps and content in the future.
A better approach is to form an industry alliance to work on a common platform that the consumer understands.
This fragmentation in the market serves no one — companies or consumers.
The scope for common platforms works in other areas too, including charging future electric cars with unified sockets or wireless technology, manufacturing and using carbon fiber parts and sharing a standard method of communications.
While infotainment systems' development typically takes up to three years to complete before launch, no one can really predict how the market would develop during that time.
Building systems that can be updated by the consumer do not work either.
Consumers are reluctant event to update maps on their satellite navigation systems. So, systems have to be built from the start to accommodate the real world web and update automatically.
The infotainment content would not develop further until consumers are able to add their cars to their monthly Internet provider bills as a "device" on their existing household plan.
This idea is not common yet in the US and Europe but France Telecom began offering single data on multiple devices recently.
It may be hard to predict what the future holds for the industry but it is evident that what is needed is revolutionary rather than evolutionary thinking. Steve Jobs did it for Apple.
The car industry is still waiting for its own Steve Jobs to give drivers their user-friendly interface.
Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist, based in London.
Email: [email protected] //
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