The Mobile Office… As A Dealer Add-On?
from the talk-about-accessories dept
One of the battles facing the automotive industry is how closely they want to work with computer makers and consumer electronics makers. Historically, accessories for vehicles were made specially for that car, and dealers could offer them as a “dealer add-on.” Alternatively, users could buy in the after-market, though, sometimes the equipment wouldn’t work as well. However, with more portable electronics coming out, the idea of “in-car electronics” becomes a bit less clear. Many people want to simply use the same gadgets that they use outside of the car — while having the vehicle work with these devices. In other words, instead of building in fancy features into the dashboard, many carbuyers are making sure new vehicles have Bluetooth and other connectors to let their existing equipment work with the car. With that in mind, it’s interesting to see Ford trying to take back some of the control by offering a complete “mobile office” for the Ford F-Series of pickup trucks. The ~$3,000 package includes a ruggedized wireless-enabled (they don’t say what kind of wireless) tablet PC, a printer and a GPS system — and is clearly targeted at contractors and others who do plenty of business on the road. It’s an interesting move: focusing on a system that is really designed to work within the truck’s cab (the PC also has a touch screen and voice recognition). The real question, though, is whether or not the package itself makes enough sense for buyers not to shop around and buy their own solution. Clearly, Ford has tried to position this as an easy add-on with everything you need, but the competitive “aftermarket” is the entire computer industry, rather than just some specialty shops this time.