Chatting Cars and Enterprise Software

Today’s big news is Salesforce Teaming up with Toyota to create a private social network where you can befriend your car and it will “tweet” you when it’s thirsty, need a checkup etc..etc..etc – see the details from @Krishnan’s post.  The opportunities are really endless – more on that later.   I have to get something off my chest first.

I admit when Chatter first came out, I did not get it.  Yeah, another activity stream, so what?  I’ve long agreed with Chief Curmudgeon Dennis Howlett that activity streams without business context offer little value in business.  Things started to get interesting when Chatter added the ability to follow documents, opportunities and other business objects.  Aha!  So now we’re getting business context in Chatter!  But why?


Continue reading here.

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve » Zoli Erdos)


Only in California: Electronic License Plates May Turn Your Car Into a Billboard

hiding license plate Here’s proof that  Governments’ creativity in finding new revenue sources is unlimited, reports The Merc:

The California Legislature is considering a bill that would allow the state to begin researching the use of electronic license plates for vehicles. The move is intended as a moneymaker for a state facing a $19 billion deficit.

The device would mimic a standard license plate when the vehicle is in motion but would switch to digital ads or other messages when it is stopped for more than four seconds, whether in traffic or at a red light. The license plate number would remain visible at all times in some section of the screen.

Note: the bill is not passed yet, and it’s only about a feasibility study. And guess who would fund the research: the company that would make such licence plates, San Francisco-based Smart Plate.

Forgetting all technical details, visibility and driver distraction issues, a few questions that naturally come to mind: just whose car is it?  ( yeah, I thought so…) Who gets to decide what ads to display or not, and more importantly, who receives the revenue?

accenture Of course once the license plate is electronic, new opportunities about – just look at this research by Accenture, the global Consulting firm:

  • RFID
  • Toll Plazas
  • Parking
  • Fleet management
  • Police monitoring..etc.

The last point raises the possibility of another arms race, just like what we’ve seen with radar detectors, between those wishing to hack the system to fake/shield  their license information and law enforcement…

And here’s the business that would certainly benefit: body shops.  Bumper repair prices would sky-rocket, and so would the number of low-speed, bumper-to-bumper accidents.  You know, when the driver behind you has the urge to click the ad you’re displaying. 🙂

Oh, well … while you wait for the 2-year research to conclude, you may wish to implement your own solution. (hint: iPad + velcro)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Phaeton: Audi in a Volkswagen Skin

2011 volkswagen-phaeton-facelift-preview-rendering Half a decade ago I labeled the Volkswagen Phaeton a fiasco.  A great car coupled with a marketing disaster:

The car is perfect. In fact it’s a technological marvel full of luxuries.  It only has one problem:  the wrong badge. Volkswagen happens to mean “people’s car”, but that’s beyond the point. What matters is that VW’s are perceived as good middle-class cars, not more.  At $80K people buy luxury cars, not just in terms of performance, but image, too.  What were VW thinking ,when they have their own upscale brand, Audi?   This car is clearly an Audi, mistakenly branded Volkswagen.

There is a reason why Honda created Acura, Toyota created Lexus … but I guess VW slept through that class in Marketing.

The 2011 revamped version has just been revealed at the Beijing Auto Show. Hm… if you ask me, this looks more “plain Volkswagen” than the first, failed version.  The company hopes to sell more in China, where Volkswagen enjoys a more upscale reputation, and there is still talk of re-introducing it to the US Market.   It will be interesting to see this.  The Phaeton has lately become popular in Europe, but let’s remember that’s where people buy luxury Honda’s without the need to re-label them as Acura :-) 

Although the new Phaeton is rumored to sell at a lower price then the original (think $60K range vs. $80K+), I still think it will be a tough sell in the US.  Here the folks who want to spend that much on a car don’t want a Volks car – they are clearly in the Audi range.


Microsoft in Your Car

Watch the video here in case the embedded player does not work.

(hat tip: TechCrunch)

Related: If You Crash, Crash BIG


No, the BMW did Not Crash

It’s funny how your feed reader can juxtapose random, unrelated items, yet making them look like a thread:

Jeff Nolan discusses how BMW is experimenting with the IP protocol to network automotive controllers.

The engineers found that IP could well suit the real-time requirements even of safety-critical applications.

Jeff’s conclusion:

In many ways modern cars are beginning to resemble PCs with standard I/O and integrated networking.

(Mumbling to myself: that’s what I said when I made the lifetime mistake of buying a first-model-year Volvo S80 T6 in 1999 … not a car, but a computer network on wheels. Consequently, nobody knew how to fix it)

But, no, I am not talking about the BMW Crash just below Jeff’s post… it’s just a Big, Fat Billboard, publicly crashing on Times Square. Feed Readers have their funny ways smile_wink