April 20, 2007

SOS: Thumbs Up for BMW Roadside Assistance

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 4/20/2007 03:23:00 PM
I have always wondered why BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG FR BMW) put an "SOS" button in their cars and today I found out why.

I got a flat tire today and had to use BMW Roadside Assistance for the first time on my BmW. While I was driving in Silicon Valley, my BMW started telling me that I had a flat tire and that I had to stop by the road. It said "You have a flat tire. Stop and replace your tires immediately. You can still continue driving because you have run flat tires. Read the instruction manual for details."

I got the first part of the message fine. But, stop and replace my tires? Pull out the instruction manual? This BMW came with a manual? Whooaaa. Stop there. Reading an instruction manual was the last thing on my mind.

That's when it occurred to me that I should just press "SOS" and let the BMW people figure it out! It was the first time I used the "SOS" button (thank goodness!) and the user interface was somewhat clunky for a first time user. I pressed the "SOS" button and in about a few seconds, my dash board had me on GPS - it showed my longitude and latitude position. Cool.

One word of advice to the designers of SOS: I was expecting to be connected to the help operator immediately but it took a few minutes before the operator connected. In fact, even though the "SOS" button started blinking after I pressed it, it was not apparent to me that a call was being made. I became somewhat distraught and wondered whether it was working ... but by the marvels of German engineering, it worked!

After 3-5 minutes, I was connected to Dan and Dan took down my name and make and model and transferred me to BMW Roadside Assistance. The music started playing and it was GOOD. Mary picked up the phone and sent out a tow truck. Mission accomplished. It only took an hour. I'm so glad I have BMW Roadside Assistance.

Next time I am stranded, I know who to call. It's such a great service. If everyone had this service, nobody would ever be stranded in snow storms or ever have to worry about getting lost or getting a mechanical problem with their car. It's a marvel how the engineers at BMW have really made GPS technology, triangulation work to create a really unique service. My only wish: if they could only make the service faster.

Oh, by the way, did I mention, it's available at no additonal cost to BMW owners.

PS: I forgot to mention that I just had my BMW in for annual service yesterday. What a coincidence that it would break down today! The paranoid in me thinks that my BMW dealer and my BMW bodyshop had conspired to generate some follow on business.

April 18, 2007

Eric Schmidt "Mobile Is the New DVD"

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 4/18/2007 01:09:00 PM
I've been following some of the news lately coming out of the NAB show and Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google (Nasdaq GOOG), was quoted as saying that "Mobile is the new DVD." It's the next big format. Eric thinks that while cellphone may be small and hard to use today, in 5 years, they will be 10 times more powerful - in bandwidth, processing, etc - simply due to Moore's law. I'm not one to bet against that!

That's an interesting comment both because the mobile environment is hard to monetize today for portals and also because the carriers have a tight vise around their customers. Donna Bogatin over at ZDNET has a nice post about it and she calls it Google's $19 billion problem. Putting on my VC hat, I think this could turn into someone's $19 billion opportunity!

Google is known to buy things that have potential and I would not be surprised if they pick a nice tuck in acquisition in the mobile advertising space. With such a large market cap ... and I gasp every time I think about it ... I would be buying everything in sight if I were CEO. After all, Yahoo! Inc (Nasdaq YHOO) is having a truly tough time now and there is no better time to pounce on a competitor than when they are down. There's only one word to describe the earnings results from Yahoo yesterday: "dismal." The one word to describe Google: "stellar."