I must be missing something here. I’m going to need someone to help me out on this one because no matter how many times I go over it in my head it just doesn’t make any sense. Automotive manufacturers are making moves toward increased connectivity and boundary-pushing tech in their vehicles which any geek will agree is a good thing. Chrysler Group is pushing out the new Uconnect system, GM has their IntelliLink, Ford is connecting users with Microsoft SYNC, and everyone else either has a system already in place or they are working on one and plan to release it soon. While some companies “get it” when it comes to smartphone connectivity, there are others that seem to be a bit short-sighted in that they keep ignoring everything that isn’t iOS based.
“You can plug your iPhone or iPod Touch into the included 30-pin connector!” That’s great, but I don’t have an iPhone or an iPod touch. You’ve given me a vestigial tail for my car. “Oh… we can still play your music through our Bluetooth connection!” Well that’s pretty nice I guess, but what about Pandora or Last.FM? Can I control those on my Android device? “Not yet, but we are working on it.” Well that’s just fan-fucking-tastic. I get it though, Android is still kind of new and there aren’t a lot of people using it so it just isn’t cost-effec… wait, iOS doesn’t have the largest slice of American or world smartphone market share? Interesting.
I understand catering to the users. The largest install base is generally the one that you want to please for obvious reasons. But since Android has a larger market share in the US and worldwide than everyone but Symbian (which is likely to be staring at Android’s taillights very soon) wouldn’t that mean they should be at least trying to throw a bone to Android users? And now let’s factor in Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry users. While they might not have the numbers of iOS or Android, they aren’t iOS devices which means that some vehicles just don’t care what OS they are running.
Am I the only one that sees this as a disservice to the customers? Or are they assuming that all of their customers are iOS users? What happens when you buy a car while you have an iOS device and then you decide to buy a WP7 device with your next upgrade? Well depending on which vehicle you buy you could very well be screwed. You now have a big fancy system that wants nothing to do with your smaller-market-share device. Money well spent if you ask me.
It would be ridiculous of me to presume to tell big automobile manufacturers how to do their business. They don’t have to cater to the vast majority* of smartphone users if they feel that it isn’t good business. But they can’t expect us to add more money to an already expensive purchase for an add-on that has limited functionality and zero expandability. We, the tech-savvy car lovers, want to have these pretty new systems in our vehicles. We don’t want to pay more for something that will be useless as soon as we change devices.
I want everyone that is reading this to remember that I’m not just talking about simply connecting my phone over Bluetooth and streaming my music. I want to have full control of my device, regardless of operating system. I want those big buttons on that massive screen so that I can give this Trivium song a ‘Thumbs Up’ without even looking at my phone. I want to be able to hit the steering wheel controls to skip a song just like I can with a CD or an iPhone.
Give us a reason to throw more money at you. We love your cars, now make us love the tech you put into them.
*Keep in mind that when I say “vast majority” I am referring to everything that isn’t iOS combined. Android, WP7, and Blackberry make up almost 70% of the current US Smartphone market. (source: comscore)