What's the Latest Development?

Cars are increasingly becoming computers with wheels. Well maybe that's going too far but how we connect with cars is more and more via digital means. Driving, navigating, monitoring performance data, maintenance, remote checks of battery life for electric vehicles, even buying automobiles – now there's an app for it all. Hyundai's Equus, for example, uses a special tablet to provide not just a high-tech version of the conventional owner's guide but allows live scheduling of services and interaction between customers and dealers. A Cooper Mini social network app lets users detect and connect while on the road, for example to share alerts on road conditions, cheap gas, speed traps and instant rallies.

What's the Big Idea?

It's a two-way street. Putting Web 3.0 on wheels isn't just meant to make car-owning easier or more fun. In the case of the Equus, it's also a way to gather customer feedback and product ideas. “...just the beginning of how the relationship between car owner and manufacturer completely changes. Imagine the social media potential to connect owner-enthusiasts, or to send targeted messages about the cool stuff in next year’s model to those owners who are most likely to be ready for a new car.” Mercedes-Benz sales staff use iPads to sign deals right in display vehicles rather than drag would-be clients back to their desk for sales negotiations. Just sign on the dotted screen...