Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm in love with my car (Toyota Friend)

Sometimes blog posts focus on odd things. In late August, I wrote a post in my Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog about the recent Inland Empire Auto Show. However, this post did not mention anything about autos. Instead, I talked about pulled pork sandwiches with bacon.

I neglected to mention that I saw autos at the Inland Empire Auto Show. Unfortunately, I couldn't find out a lot about the autos that really interested me. My 909 inferiority complex was supported by the no-shows of two major auto companies. Well, they actually had cars at the show, but they didn't have any people or any brochures. Perhaps the Ford and Honda demo folks got lost in Pomona or something.

But Toyota was there, and since I'm interested in hybrid cars, I went on a Prius test drive. The fact that Toyota and a couple of other companies offered test drives at the Inland Empire Auto Show was definitely appreciated.

I had forgotten about this until I belatedly got around to listening to Marc Benioff's Oracle OpenWorld 2011 keynote (you know, the one that caused a lot of discussion). Despite it's Al Davis-like rebel image (note: Davis was still alive at the time of Benioff's presentation), it was the usual enterprise keynote. Since it was (sort of) connected to Oracle OpenWorld, Benioff naturally had to bash the competition. Then you had to have a vision. Then you had to talk about how technology could do wonderful things. Then you had to get people from other companies to talk about how your technology helped their companies. All pretty much run of the mill stuff, until Benioff asked Dan Darcy to talk about Toyota Friend.

Now this was not a new announcement at Oracle OpenWorld, but I had missed the initial announcement of Toyota Friend when it was made a few months ago. Yuri Kageyama didn't:

Toyota is setting up a social networking service with the help of a U.S. Internet company and Microsoft so drivers can interact with their cars in ways similar to Twitter and Facebook.

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. and, based in San Francisco, announced their alliance Monday to launch "Toyota Friend," a private social network for Toyota owners that works similar to tweets on Twitter.

Apparently you can choose the level of interaction. Perhaps you want to keep the car information, such as tire pressure, private to yourself. Or perhaps you want updates to be visible to others on the Toyota Friend network. Or perhaps you want updates to be visible on your Facebook or Twitter account.

While this could be creepy for some customers, other customers may welcome such interaction, including messages from dealers, suggestions of the nearest gas station to take care of that tire pressure issue, the ability to monitor all of your family's cars, and so forth.

Basically you're taking all of the privacy concerns of Facebook and extending them to new platforms.

And despite Marc Benioff's protestations, it appears that hardware - in this case, your Toyota car - IS important.
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