Cars and software

On the A5 autobahn this morning , I happened to see a camouflaged version of a soon to be released Mercedes.  Looks like the new E class.



I’d never seen a car covered to avoid spy photos on the road before. 

Later, as I sat in the stau near Darmstadt,  I thought about parallels between the software industry and the automotive industry. 

We hear a lot about how the software industry needs to become more industrial, and learn how to build and reuse components, but what struck me this morning was how cleverly the automotive industry manages the flow of information about new products. 

Mercedes Benz and others are masters at building excitement in new products,  and showcasing futuristic innovations, but what is really impressive is how they do it such away as not to damage current product sales.

When I look at how software marketeers manage the launch of new products, they ought to hang out with  some automotive marketing types.

1. How to market future innovations without freezing the current pipeline.

2. Pricing transparency and financing

3. Market segmentation. BMW’s Mini and One series have an overlapping target market. BMW are cool with that.  Buyers of the 5 series  might be tempted to go for a well specced 3 series instead.  This too is fine.  A multi-product line has overlaps, and you can’t wish these away by trying to create artificial segmentations.

4. Managing upgrades.  Car makers manage to get most of us onto the next release with ease.

5.  Position a brand – competing beyond function and feature.

6. Naming convention consistency.  Porsche 911 anyone?

3 thoughts on “Cars and software”

  1. Interesting parallels. Always a balance between building excitement and letting people know what’s coming.

    If you have the answer to transparent pricing, I’d love to hear it! 🙂

  2. Coming from the automotive sector there are tons of other things that the software industry could learn from there but most don’t see the parallels immediately and often by the time they do it’s a bit late in the game.

    Automotive is one of the the most secretive groups when it comes to new innovations and at the same time one of the most open about what they are doing. Quite a contradiction but it works! Having lived in Detroit for a couple of years the “taped up cars” were quite common, if you went to a certain area of town. Everyone knew the area it’s where the roads were perfect for various types of tests like testing the new headlights that curve with the road instead of just straight on. The night drives were brilliant and everyone knew they were happening, the automotive sector seems to embrace that fact and uses it – whereas software is NDA NDA NDA and don’t tell anyone but please buy my product or invest in my company.

  3. Additionally, the automotive industry has a rich eco system that they leverage to co-innovate with on the development of their products. This is a necessity since no one manufacturer can do everything to the level of quality, time and money necessary to be competitive.

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