Once I started using this tool, Case's larger point became powerfully clear: Low-cost mounts blur the line between in-car technology and general consumer electronics. "I love getting into my truck and seeing all those systems," he said. "I am a major gadget head." But Case points out that these in-car nav, entertainment and vehicle management apps often demand users learn how to manage complex software that differs from the smartphone experience they already know
"I believe the point is to have something that works throughout the customer's day," he said. "The iron rule is the customer really, really, really does not want to learn anything new."
And almost no research is required to learn that Nite Ize is not the only mount maker betting that in-car intelligence is better served by generic portable devices retrofits. For just $20, the Koomus Dashboard K2 mounts on any car -- and, at least to my eye, can do so in a safer position for the driver compared with pricey in-car navigation systems. I also like how the Kenu Airframe, at $25, mounts to any heating vent in a car dashboard, offering the terrific option of putting a portable device on the left side of the steering column, near the driver's door, as opposed to right side, in the already overcrowded central console.
Smartphone makers aim at smart car
As Lauren Fix, an independent car systems analyst in Lancaster, N.Y., explained, there is a growing tension between car manufacturer-installed connected auto systems and the mobile tools coming from major mobile makers such as Apple, Samsung and Motorola.