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Unequal brilliance

I remember once seeing a wonderful lengthy documentary about the world class Musicians and sound engineers employed by BMW to painstakingly imagine and create the sounds the car would make.

Hours would go into the sounds made if the seatbelts were not warn, to delight and coax people into using them. Composers would agonize over the low tire pressure notification.

It was very impressive.

A few years ago I was lucky to buy a very used BMW 6 series, a car that featured in this documentary and there was a lot to love about the car, and indeed the feeling you got driving it, a small part of which was the lovely sounds it emitted

At the same time, I was always aware that if you wanted to open the boot using the key, it was a little hard.

If you held down the key fob for only one second, it wouldn’t open, if you held it for 1.5 seconds, it would open, but if you held it down for 2 seconds, the car alarm would kick into life at maximum volume as some sort of personal alarm. I’d say of the 2000 times I opened the trunk, I set the alarm off 200 times, often to quite a lot of attention.

I’m always intrigued about where brilliance is spread. And how various parts of companies can be so different to each other. Someone today at Apple is working on a magical new experience like how to activate the Apple Credit card, but someone else is working on the utterly shameful anachronistic Tunes software. Someone at Delta airlines is tweaking a system to board the plane with your face as ID, and someone else is ordering spare parts for the dot matrix printers they use at the gate.

We’re always obsessed with the little things that push boundaries and make a difference, but our experience is normally shaped more by the millions of other things we experience. It’s probably a lot more cost effective to remove the disastrous things, in the same way a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

So back to cars, I wonder if many large automakers have ever focussed on the awful dealership experience? Has anyone looked into the merits of asking people to use premium gas, when it may not be needed, and why has nobody ever designed a car thats got a way to hold your phone, integrated into it?

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