In my book Why We Fail I included a case study of BMW’s iDrive in-car software (here’s a condensed version published by Fast Company). I’ve been following the progress of iDrive over the years. My working theory was that iDrive undoubtably hurt sales, but BMW’s cars are successful in so many other ways they still sell, and as long as they can gradually improve iDrive over time then the customer suffering will eventually subside.
How software made me loathe my luxury car by Mikkel Høgh is a sobering update that makes me think the software ecosystem for iDrive owners has only become worse. I sometimes travel for work and have the opportunity to rent and try in-car software from many manufacturers, and I’ve come to the same conclusion as Mikkel: CarPlay is wonderful. I plug in my phone and it just works. The car I own, a Mazda, is well-designed with fine if not great in-car software; CarPlay is the single thing I wish it had.
So perhaps iDrive’s gradual improvement has been too gradual, and CarPlay is poised to subsume the in-car software market?