Friday, December 21, 2007

Apple partnering with BMW, Volkswagen and... the U.S. Military?

Bavarian Motor Werks was the first car company to be fully iPod compatible. Now, rumor has it that the boys from München are working tightly with the Cupertino camp on a new in-car operating system to replace BMW's innovative but rightfully maligned iDrive interface. As a partnership, it makes a lot sense: both have gotten a bad rap over the years as being toys for elitist jerks, but they do both make, without question, the very best products in their respective businesses. (Haters be damned.)

The gadget blogs seem more interested in whether future BMWs will have an iPod dock or not. I think that's missing the forest for the trees. Over the past twenty years cars have become extremely dependent on complex computer systems, yet OEMs have yet to come up with a good interface between the driver and these systems. I think that the reigning masters of intuitive interface design [Apple] and the masters of driver-oriented cars [BMW] getting together to define the next evolutionary jump for driver/machine interaction is perfect. (If there is one U.S. manufacturer I'm pulling for, it's Ford. I just hope for their sake they don't do something really stupid like strike up a partnership with Microsoft... uh...)

Apple has two very different faces. On one side, they make ultra high-end/high-performance/high-design/high-price machines. On the other end, they are extremely friendly and easy to use by everyone. Apple has always been "the people's computer." It makes a lot of sense for them to partner with the original people's car: Volkswagen. There are dozens of rumors floating around about a potential iCar. The latest rumors suggest that talks have stalled (maybe this is related to iDrive 2.0? Who knows.) There's speculation that VW's all-but-110%-confirmed new entry-level Space model will feature an Apple designed interface... a gestural interface at that! Let's hope this isn't all concept car pipe dreams.

Last but not least interesting, just today is talk of Apple computers being deployed by the U.S. military because, according to the army, they are more secure than Windows-based systems. I'd like to spare you from the painfully obvious, but I can't resist: Der!

No comments: