With technology, being first is a risky business
From seamless iPhone integration to instant Bluetooth connectivity and navigation systems that never lead you astray, infotainment is the hottest trend in the auto business. Consumers want more technology. Automakers and their suppliers feel the pressure to deliver.
Automakers are trying, with mixed results, to deliver infotainment systems that are simple to use yet robust enough to handle the expanding list of tasks that consumers want.
The problem is that infotainment systems don't always work as well as intended. And malfunctions can seriously damage a brand, erasing a company's advantage in being the first mover.
Some of the recent hiccups and missteps with the MyFord Touch system illustrate that. Ford's play to be first and a technology innovator has come at a cost.
General Motors did not rush its product to market.
GM spent four years developing a touch-screen infotainment system for Cadillac. The time allowed GM to work bugs out of the system and fine-tune it. GM also spent time studying how drivers interact with their cars and mobile devices. The result, GM believes, is a system that won't be the subject of complaints or a downgrade in GM's quality ratings.
The lesson: In an industry in which companies often battle to be first at everything, sometimes it's OK to be second.