• Jan 14th 2007 at 9:33AM
  • 16
Associated Press Business Writer Tom Krisher makes a few good points about how the Big Three (or 2.5 if you prefer) could stand to learn from Apple's comeback. Well, ok, one good, though not exactly new, point. We've all heard it, if not said it ourselves. It's all about the product. Just like Steve Jobs saved Apple in 1998 with the innovative, highly-desired iMac, American carmakers need their own hotcake vehicle. And in reading Krisher's article, you get the impression GM, Chrysler and Ford have been paying attention.

"I admire (Apple's) pure understanding of the brand and the type of customer they're going after, and married to that, a product and a design strategy that they do not veer off of," said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas.

"We're really trying to be more like companies like Apple, where we can innovate and move faster," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of sales, service and marketing for General Motors Corp.

"I think a fresh, creative mind is something that you can appreciate and focus simply on some complicated things," said Eric Ridenour, chief operating officer of DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group.

So where's the automotive version of the iPhone? Is it GM's Volt? Ford's Interceptor? The Chrysler Nassau? Just like with Apple, only time, and the free market, will tell.

[Source: The Associated Press via Yahoo Finance]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      One thing that Apple does that the big 2.5 dont is STAND BEHIND THEIR PRODUCT when there is a problem!!!!! I and my family own an iPods, iMac and 2 Mac laptops. Any problems are quickly resolved, and they are few compared to Windows machines.

      The other thing that Apple does is CREATE A PRODUCT NAME AND STICK WITH IT. I am so sick of the big 2.5 changing the names of their damn cars when they replace (read:restyle) them. Foreign car companies have names like Civic, Accord, Camry, 911, 3 Series, etc. whose names are legendary and evoke thoughts of quality when mentioned. If Ford would have kept the Escort name and kept refining it and improving it for example, they would have a stellar reputation with the name.

      But what do they do? They build a piece of crap and then can't reuse the name again because it evokes thoughts of craptastic pieces of shit! Then these jokes of cars are mentioned at cocktail parties. Think Vega, Pinto, Fairmont, Corvair Granada, Versailles, Cimmaron here.

      Car not selling? Change the name, yeah, that's the ticket! That's another bad move by the big 2.5. GM is particulary bad at this. Instead of addressing why it's not selling, just kill it and come out with another version of that platform with a different name. Think Cavalier then Cobalt and whatever it's successor will be soon.

      It makes me nauseous.

      Lots of customers want consistency with the car they buy, from the name to the basic design. Somehow, they equate this with quality. When you kill the name, you WILL lose customers because of it. The most extreme example of consistency is the 911. See, I didnt need to mention it was a Porsche, did I? It has the same layout and configuration since the day it was designed. It has evolved into one of the most beloved sports car names in the world. The Corvette has followed the same formula and is also in high regard.

      Why do the big 2.5 think that consistency with evolution in a design will make a stale product? Why do they have this mentality??????
      • 8 Years Ago
      Apple and the Auto Industry can't be compared. Rick Wagoner and Steve Jobs can, sorta.

      Jobs practically owns Apple. He pretty much has carte blanche over his board of directors and the share holders. He's their savior. Jobs number one asset: HE HAS VISION!

      Wagoner and the other CEO's are tied to what the share holders and bean counters want. Also Wagoner et al don't really have any assets.

      Jobs = Visionary
      Wagoner = I'm not really sure but definately not a Visionary.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Great! Now who wants to pay a premium for a Chevy?

      We already have cars that are singularly focused on design and performance. Many people compare Apple to Porsche or BMW. But there are buyers of crappy, $200 PCs that aren't good for much more than email or Word. Likewise, there are people that buy Chevy Aveos simply to get to work. They don't have a need, or can't afford a nice stereo, sunroof, leather, advanced safety features, a decent engine, performance-oriented handling, etc. Someone still needs to make the crappy, uninteresting, low-end products.

      And that''s where you'll find the big 2.5. You could argue that Toyota should be included. But while most of their products are far from interesting, and many are low-end, few could be called crappy. Hence the slight premium for Toyota products.

      The Apples of the automotive industry will remain to be the Porsches, BMWs and the like.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with AMcA and add this - they need to quit this embargo garbage. it always gets broken, and it ruins the excitement of the introduction itself. NO pics should be released until the vehicle is officially introduced. Steve Jobs is the king when it comes to product introduction, and he certainly doesn't release any pics to the press ahead of time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Automobiles are far more complicated than the products Apple makes, and what makes one great is also more complicated.

      Once thing to realize about computers and consumer electronics in general is that its a much younger industry. It wasn't long ago that they discovered the power of design, any design. So Apple could succeed by having a recognizable design, because no one else had one.

      This isn't the case in the auto industry. The auto industry discovered the power of design back in the 1920s. These days virtually every car has a lot of design content, and many companies provide products with an instantly recognizable brand appearance--BMW, Porsche, Land Rover, Mini, Cadillac, Volvo, etc.

      The cell phone industry is getting here quickly. Many companies now field phones with striking designs and cute names: Razor, Chocolate, etc.

      Would Apple have as easy a time making breakthrough products if it had this many competitors more or less on the ball? Of course not.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I also meant to add that the Corvette is also a GM product. Probably the only nameplate that has this consistency. Thanks.
      • 8 Years Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      You guys who are bashing Apple - have you ever used a Mac as your day to day machine? Hard to bash something so knowingly when you haven't even used it. Isn't it?

      Can your pc do this? http://murphymac.com/slib/mailer.htm

      I don't know much about cars. But I do know this:
      Chrysler is the only American company with any creativity these days. GM takes a legend like GTO and puts it on a Grand Am-looking piece of sh^t.
      Ford builds that beautiful old Mustang body, and still includes their same old chitzy interior fixtures.
      When are these guys going to wake up and bring the stylish cards they sling to Europeans to Americans?

      • 8 Years Ago
      Following the example of a industry that is plagued by bad unethical business practices is probably a bad idea.

      A product like the iPod would be good. They need something that will completely revolutionize the industry. Unfortunalty every move they have made towards something like that, they kill or walk away. For the most part it seems they are too unwilling to make any big moves, making this all big talk.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A couple of factoids for everyone to chew on:

      Apple's MP3 player share still stands at > 75%.

      ~50% of Mac purchases are currently made by "switchers" (people that didn't previously own a Mac).
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think all of you work for the "great" 2.5... That's why there's NO salvation to the US auto-industry: it's a culture problem.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Apple spends an enormous amount of money to tell everyone how great they are and yet they still have only 2% market share for their OS. The iPod is a one trick pony for Apple, just like the Mustang is for Mustang.

      The only thing that Apple has going for it is a brain dead Media that drools all over everything they do and ignores any faults (i.e. Toyota). At the end of the day, it only the product that matters.
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