Seems to me this is just a new, financially prudent version of what the big car makers used to do when they wanted to get into new platforms or markets -- they'd acquire it. (Like GM did w Saab etc.) So now there's no cash for acquistions, so they partner instead. And of course this raises the big question: How does a car maker maintain a lead/proprietary technology if everyone's partnering with everyone else. The end course of that road map is every car becomes a commodity. In which case, ultimately, the Chinese (one day will) win.
I think it's still possible to achieve competitive advantage even with the partnership model. You saw (and still see) a lot of this in the IT industry (they used to refer to it as co-opetiion). Sure, there were varying degrees of success and there were casualties along the way, but some of the controversial partnerships (IBM/Microsoft) were what was needed to get the PC industry off the ground. Perhaps the same situation applies here.
Can you purchase a car in a reasonable manner with the features YOU want? Assuredly NOT. One must purchase opetion "packages" even though you may only one one of the options. How many other unwanted options will a diabetic need to purchase along with the on-board glucose monitor?
Does anyone feel they get value from the dealership from which they purchase the vehicle? There's an opportunity here for a smart automobile manufacturer.
Leave the internal options to be added by the dealership, making them add some real value. Use standard interfaces (like USB ports, or Firewire, or something similar) for easy installation. Let the consumer pick what they want.
It's time to see something truly different come from the auto industry. Henry Ford brought assembly line mass production to the industry; it's time to meld that with the ability to provide customization.
Imagine how things could change if there were a real effort to reduce the cost of management.... Perhaps we could outsource these multimillion dollar positions to India or Pakistan where they could do the same jobs for pennies on $10.
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