Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mercedes-Benz Search and Send is a very cool failure.


Mercedes-Benz Search and Send
Originally uploaded by gadget.
These guys were SO close with this innovative service that reminds me of the "send to phone" browser plug-in for Firefox. Close, however but no cigar. Look, I love the redesigned C-Class. MBZ did a great job capturing the essence of the expensive S in this platform that even I could maybe afford (like my old 90's E-Class.) My question is how could they release a GPS feature which requires a second step "pull" of the address by the owner seated in the car after the first action or the "push" from the desktop - which could come from the owner, an executive admin, or significant other who asks for an errand run.

Engineers frequently screw up the user experience - as proved with this image above showing the steps for the Mercedes-Benz Search and Send:
1. Search for the location you want to find on your laptop (good idea #1 - we do that today often)
2. Send the directions to your device (good idea #2 - we email stuff to people from the web)
3. Download at the touch of a button (really BAD idea - who thinks to dial a voice service to get the data that has already been sent via a PC?)
4. Directions pop up on the navigation system (great idea #3 - but a SMS text message could do that automatically today.)

Consumers are overwhelmed with electronics and you need to know that "multi-steps means multi-failure points" causing products to fail in the marketplace. Case in point: it was Apple who created a better ripping and purchasing software program, that we all know as iTunes, along with a playing device that auto-synced the player which won the battle of the portable players. They were not the first in the market - by a long shot, Apple just made the experience better.

Search and Send should not be the forgotten technology that it will soon become. I have seen my friend's Germany based Autobahn cruising Porsche factory audio system receive and send text messages - just by putting your SIM into the head-unit, even "way back" in 2003. The Search and Send feature of their summer 2007 vehicles should have the ability to receive this map destination information as a SMS based text message that is automatically queued within the cellular network and pops up on-screen once the car is turned on. This is technically a closed solution with the Mercedes-Benz Telematics system via a partnership with Yahoo Maps and Google Maps, so creating a parsed single or even multiple SMS (to get over the 160 character limitation) message system would have been trivial.

Very cool, nice try, but it's doomed to failure. There is always version 2.0 however.

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