Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The challenge of creating an (auto)mobile user experience

On March 12, I had the honor of joining a distinguished group of panelists at a luncheon for the Los Angeles Motor Press Guild. The panelists included:

The purpose of the panel was to share information on trends in the connected car space and in the automotive application ecosystem. The panel was well attended, with journalists from publications like the New York Times, and with representatives from companies like Alpine, Beats by Dr. Dre, Hyundai, and Toyota.

Two things stood out for me. First, the press really picked up on the need for solutions that can offer ease of use, upgradeability, and reliability while also reducing distraction and liability. Second, an expert witness hired by car companies to testify in Lemon Law suits told the panel that he was already being hired to provide testimony in cases involving in-vehicle electronics. He speculated that the technology described on the panel was going to “make him rich.”

His comments help illustrate a point. A car isn’t a mobile phone. OEMs and end-users may want the same kind of fresh and updateable experience that a phone can provide, but unlike a phone, an in-car infotainment system must be simple to use even while you’re driving down the highway. Such systems offer the ideal environment for a hard real-time OS that can also enable the latest consumer technologies and applications in a reliable and easy-to-use way.

Jim Pisz mentioned a sign he saw at the Geneva Motor Show. The sign said “Don’t Worry, Be Appy.” That sign makes me realize that the industry is at a crossroads. OEMs want access to consumer app developers and, in some cases, the apps themselves. At the same time they want a reliable solution that they won’t have to “worry” about. With QNX’s pedigree of reliability and amazing app ecosystem, we are uniquely positioned to help OEMs build “appy” cars, without the worry.

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