Inside GNSS Car Technology Choice Study Shows Low Interest in Navigation Functions Inside GNSS Twenty years after Detroit introduced the first in-vehicle car navigation systems, employing GPS and digital map technology, collision avoidance appears…
This shouldn’t come as a surprise although I’m not sure I totally agree with some of the interpretations of the findings of this research.
First of all, for most people, finding your way around a strange place is difficult and stressful. Map reading is just as complex or more when it comes to driving and it is not that many years since I used to see people driving, especially tourists, with a map on their steering wheel. Not a safe way to drive in my book.
I also remember the number of times when I had to stop the car to identify my current location and the’ disappearing sign’ law took over. You know, where the only place you can safely stop is nowhere near any street signs and you have already missed the turn you were supposed to take.
One of the problems with OEM car navigation has been the pricing model. When car manufacturers are competing against each other on price, they offer a car with the bare bones. You get a steering wheel, windscreen, maybe even a rear window wiper, but the rest is either in an options tick box, or the up-sell model. Once they have convinced you of the brand and model, then come the extras.
Car navigation is priced as an extra unless you are buying a more expensive car. It is OEM but is typically installed outside of the factory, which adds cost. It’s like a part. For example, by the time a new car, assembled in Australia with car navigation fitted before it arrives brand new in New Zealand, the nav gets marked up about 6 times. One of the nav units I had in my car, when nav was first launched retailed for around $6,000 or above, however the cost to the factory was under $1,500. Similar in fact to the retail price of the first Navman portable devices.
The complaint that navigation is too hard to use would be anathema to the car navigation companies who have invested millions into being so “user friendly that you don’t need a manual”. Of course the millennials are not likely to generically be the age group that buys brand new cars and many baby boomers still struggle with TXT messaging.
I think there are two other factors in play in regard to this story. First, most of us now have smart phones and they have GPS, they know where they are.They come with maps and guidance applications. Add a windscreen mount and you have a GPS navigation device that you can move from car to car, goes with you on the bus, train, walking and you can put in your pocket when you don’t need it. If its going to be an expensive option, an addition to the cost of the car, then why bother.
Safety is definitely important and our motoring associations and other groups lobby hard for our vehicles to be more safe. As cars become easier to drive, i.e. such that people don’t need to understand the principles of motoring, we inherently have more dangerous drivers. Back in the day you had to understand how gears worked for example, you quickly learned what would happen if you didn’t use the clutch, or were going up a hill in the wrong gear. Now for many people, driving is more point and shoot. Self parking cars are popular because many of today’s drivers can’t consistently parallel park.
If you are still here, my last comment is about the Gartner Hype Curve. Have you ever looked at concept cars and wondered why you have to wait so long for cars that look like that, or have ‘those’ features. Whilst change appears to happen quickly these days, the examples of people that say new technology is too hard illustrates that we just aren’t ready en mass to adopt the new changes in technology.
We prefer one bite at a time. That’s why its taken so long to get from the Palm Pilot based phones and why Blackberry isn’t really around any more. They were there for the early adopters, but couldn’t become mainstream because it was ‘too hard’ for the baby boomers (again) to get their heads around the technology. They also said they didn’t need it. Many of them now have smartphones with touch screens because it is hard to get anything retro, like with number buttons. But ask them how many screen devices they had in their home then and how many they have now!
Last week I saw a CNN show which was demonstrating a Coca Cola vending machine that allows you to buy a drink and enter a competition, paying from your mobile phone. A couple of days later I happened to be on a flight home and the person in the row in front of me , we’ll call him Kefyn, was an old associate who used to work at Ericsson, where they had a coke vending machine that you could get drinks from, by sending a TXT message, in their office, around 15 years ago, if not longer.
It seems we technology evangelists continue to have to work our way through the hype curve, past the trough of disillusionment to the early majority at the pace that the majority can cope with. That’s why we have evolution and not revolution. But without those of us with the foresight to push and push, we would still be trying to breed faster horses as the wise men of the cities advocated not much more than 100 years ago.
We have come a fair way haven’t we?