Come on Ford. Get your act together.
I play a lot of fly out dates. I get flown out all over the country to play colleges fairly often. This gives me an opportunity to test drive a lot of new (rental) cars.
My last two outings I had a Ford Focus and a Ford Fusion Hybrid. Probably 2013s. Both had USB inputs with Microsoft’s voice activated SYNC program.
It sucks. As does the location of the USB input. It’s in the center arm rest!
Now, this doesn’t seem like it would be an issue to the design team or the board, but to the user, it’s a serious one.
Most people use their phones for GPS AND entertainment. They need their phone charging while syncing and navigating otherwise it dies too fast. But the standard iPhone cable (that comes with the phone) is only 3.5 feet. Not long enough to stretch from deep inside the arm rest to the left side of the windshield – the only place you are legally allowed to affix a window mount (in many states). So, I had to (illegally) attach it just below the rear-view mirror. But then, every time I made a two handed turn I caught the USB cable with my right hand, tearing the phone off the mount completely, whacking me in the side of the head.
But Ford didn’t think this through. They thought that people will use their GPS for navigation and their smart phones for entertainment.
This monumental oversight is more than just an annoyance. It screams out of touch.
They may be patting themselves on the backs for their last quarter numbers or their new MPG ratings, but the reason they’re not winning Generation Y is because they don’t know how to sell to them. Us.
We don’t care how expensive our car looks. We want it to just work. Like Apple has trained us. You know how many times I had to scream at SYNC to just “play music?” Oh and running Google maps while playing music was near impossible. The music stopped every time Mrs. Google gave me a direction. Well, only 90% of the time. WHAT?!
Ford SYNC is atrocious. And Ford’s sound system isn’t much better. Toyota crushes them. My favorite place to listen to music is in my 2008 Highlander. It’s old, sure, but it sounds worlds better than the 2013 Focus or Fusion. I’ve driven new Corollas too and their system is just as good (just doesn’t have the subs).
Once Google comes out with its self-driving car, it won’t just be the game changing technology that wins consumers, it will be the interconnectedness. Their voice command technology is already the industry leader. Better than Siri. And once they implement their search through voice command, game over. Imagine. “Google, play the Ari Herstand Pandora station.” Boom done. “Google, play Ari Herstand’s new album on Spotify.” Done. “Google, play Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on my NPR app.” “Google, play the latest TED Talk podcast.”
What’s it like in a Ford now?
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.”
“Say 1 for ‘Brave Enough,’ say 2 for ‘Keep Fighting.'”
“No! Shuffle songs. Ah fuck it.”
“I”m sorry, I didn’t understand you. Say 1 for ‘Funky Town…”
And that’s when I illegally grab my phone and manually find the song I want, hiding it beneath the steering wheel as to avoid the cop I just passed while attempting not to swerve off the road.
And Ford doesn’t have Pandora built in. Toyota does. Honda does. Chevy does.
If car companies don’t start thinking like tech companies, they’re doomed. And don’t think we’re going to bail them out AGAIN! We’ll just let Google pick up the much deserved business.
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take. Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake