Yesterday, I saw this tweet from Gordon Snyder:
I was very intrigued as I read the AdAge article referenced in the tweet above. It’s exciting to see Ford working on going social. The ramifications of auto makers embracing social technology are big. The car going online and social is a big part of the realization of World 2.0.
In order for car makers to do it right, they definitely need to embrace the car as platform, as API. Closed, proprietary systems are going to be barriers and not fully embraced. Open systems which acknowledge that they aren’t the center of the universe, and that people continue to exist even when they aren’t sitting in their car, will win.
The GPS navigation system is the first step in having some car/location “awareness”. GPS with real-time traffic updates is step two. Step three is to add more/better information about the location you are in, and your friends’ locations. Imagine driving into a town that you are not familiar with, being hungry, and your GPS/social car tells you that one of your friends recommends a quaint pub five blocks away. Or that you are driving in your hometown, and your car tells you that two of your friends are in the local coffee shop nearby. In a certain sense, what I am describing is a mashup of Yelp! and BrightKite, that works in your car. And to be truly user-friendly, such a system would have to work equally well when you are out of your car, and seamlessly integrate with your smartphone of choice.
It will be critical for any development of these systems to allow the user to have exactly what information she wants displayed, as well as to allow exactly what information is given to others. If you need alone-time, you need to be able to disable the broadcasting of your location, and turn off seeing the location information of others.
With this type of convergence, we are truly on our way to World 2.0.
Similarly, I wrote about why the shared branching networks need to get their ATM and branch locations into the TomTom GPS navigation system.
More recently, I saw this exact technology implemented on an iPhone by mFoundry at last year’s Finovate NYC conference held by NetBanker. It was quite impressive to press a button to get exact location and travel instructions, as well as phone number, for the nearest bank/credit union branches. The next step for financial institutions is to have this type of technology merge with social networks/reviews and to be conveniently displayed no matter whether you are inside your car or walking outside with your smartphone.
Of course the other important factor to address in the online/wired/social/whatever car is to make sure the driver is not distracted. Right now, too many people are looking down at their smartphones, texting, trying to look at GPS information, reading their emails, blogs and tweets, while driving. If we look at car as platform for this, perhaps what makes the most sense is to plug the smartphone into the car (perhaps wirelessly via bluetooth), and have browsed web page spoken out loud, in the way that GPS navigators do. Also handy would be voice-to-text conversion so that you could respond back without taking your eyes off the road.
It’s just nice that a corporate giant such as Ford is not asleep at the wheel, and is on the road to embracing the online social landscape that so many are adopting. In addition, Ford has had the foresight to invite social media evangelist @ScottMonty to head their social media team.