Nokia says "Meego with another OS" and Terminal Mode goes "Terminal"


Ok, how about a little controversy.  I won't bother spending too much time discussing Nokia's choice to drop Meego and that choice's impact on GenIVI.  In fact, I will say that it is just one more blow to the organization, that in my opinion lost any hope of broad market adoption about a year ago, but in any case, they will just pick up and move on to the next GUI / Application framework.  There was already debate within GenIVI if Meego was ever their "official" direction to begin with.  Likely, they might pick something a little more credible in automotive.  Frankly, even though QT is also associated with Nokia, I think it is more likely that QT will continue to have a life, even given Nokia's selection of Microsoft as their phone platform.  I wouldn't be surprised to have QT attempt to resuscitate life into GenIVI working groups, but still don't hold out much hope.

I think what I am more interested to share are my views on the impact of the Nokia decision to Terminal Mode.  Unlike GenIVI, Terminal Mode was gaining a bit of traction, or more specifically, not Terminal Mode per se, but VNC.  There were some very fundamental problems with Terminal Mode, for example since Terminal Mode lacked a great policy management story (what is allowed to be displayed when a vehicle was in motion) every tier 1 was implementing their own policy management solution.  This created issues for OEMs looking to implement solutions across multiple Tier 1s or multi-sourced production programs. 

Not being intimately involved in the working group, I will say my limited understanding was that the Terminal Mode supporters were looking to address this issue by creating a consortium of Terminal Mode participants that could address policy management and rank applications on a scale of "appropriateness" to use while the vehicle was in motion.  Since this appeared to be based on self certification by application vendors, this approach seemed questionable, to me, for automotive use.

Another major challenge to Terminal Mode was performance.  I think this is where the choice by Nokia has the most significant impact to Terminal Mode.  For anyone who has seen a Windows Phone 7 user interface, you would know that UI is in constant motion and transition.  It is the same UI that in a recent survey by Nokia is "one of the most exciting aspects of Microsoft deal" according to a Nokia poll released this week. Click here to see the Engadget Article

Already Terminal Mode was being bashed by their own supporters of the VNC approach, even within the CE4A.  The reason, performance, but such an animated, constantly moving UI like the one in Windows Phone 7 would, in my opinion, grind already sketchy performance to a halt. 

I have no doubt that there might be some creative engineers at Nokia who could have addressed the performance issues of Terminal Mode in a Windows Phone 7 environment, but I have a feeling Microsoft might have ideas on a more elegant application / screen sharing solution.  So without Nokia backing Terminal Mode, I think you see a short term VNC approach as an interim solution for sharing specific applications from a phone to a head unit, but I don't see formal Terminal Mode existing in the long term.

So what do I think will be the right solution?  Video (like iPod Out) or HTML (like Blackberry Bridge).

I will do a more in depth blog about iPod Out vs Terminal Mode vs HTML / Blackberry Bridge vehicle integration soon.

Thanks to Alistair and Jorg from Nokia let me provide a few links to Terminal Mode if you want to learn more.  I appreciate the education guys:

To learn about the Terminal Mode event March 23rd in Japan:
To learn more about Terminal Mode in general:

Steve Jobs can’t kill Flash . . .

. . . but Adobe just might, but hold on I will get back to this.

Interesting bit of news when TomTom announced a couple of weeks ago, that they will be launching a Webkit based app store by the end of the year. (Link: http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/32801/tomtom-looks-to-app-store) So add Tomtom to the impressive list of companies adopting Webkit as their embedded browser strategy. Companies such as:
  • Apple (Safari)
  • Blackberry
  • Google (Chrome)
  • Palm / HP (WebOS)
  • QNX
  • Etc.
More important than just a common embedded web browser is the fact that many companies are positioning the browser as an application deployment scheme. Look again at the TomTom announcement. It isn’t that they are launching a web browser and connectivity into a device, but rather that they are launching an application platform based on HTML that could deploy new applications or widgets post purchase. If you look at Chrome and WebOS both of these implementations of Webkit are also effectively application platforms.

Now back to Flash. Despite his recent denials (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/), most people believe that Steve Jobs doesn’t want Flash on iPhones and iPads because it opens up a new application and content channel that can bypass iTunes / App Store and the accompanying business model. So, unless the government or consumer pressure compels Steve Jobs / Apple to include Flash, new reasons will materialize why Flash can’t technically work and it will stay off Apple devices. That alone won’t, in my opinion, kill Flash. What really makes it have wide adoption are those darn Mac loving web, content and UI designers that use Adobe tools. Flash is an easy development environment for rich experiences. . .

In my opinion what will ultimately kill Flash is Adobe developing a similar robust development environment for rich HTML experiences. Last year Adobe CEO Narayen said, "[T]he fragmentation of browsers makes Flash even more important rather than less important." With all the adoption of Webkit / HTML 5 for devices, perhaps it explains Adobe CTO, Kevin Lynch’s recent stand at the Web 2.0 Expo:

"We're going to try and make the best tools in the world for HTML5,” Adobe has a history of HTML tool development with products like Dreamweaver, he said, and called HTML5 "a terrific step forward" for the Web.

And since this is an automotive blog, what will automotive like about HTML 5? Here are just two of the many capabilities in HTML 5 catching interest in automotive:
P.S. with all of the attention on Apple regarding Flash. . . I wonder what Steve Jobs thinks of Silverlight?  Seems like Microsoft will have a serious battle getting any further adoption in Automotive since they are pushing Silverlight as their HMI of choice for the next version of Microsoft Auto (AKA Motegi)

Context aware displays – “Can you see me now”



I was just reading an article in the Economist describing “the connected car” http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/tq/displayStory.cfm?story_id=13725743. One point in the article got me thinking. Specifically, it mentioned a modern car having as many as 200 on board sensors or microprocessors “measuring everything from tire pressure to windscreen temperature”.

Modern vehicles now are gathering so much information and have access to not only data relating to the car, but to location, speed, points of interest, music, traffic, . . . the problem suddenly becomes how to communicate this information to the driver in a relevant and safe way. This emphasizes the recent explosion of automotive interest in digital displays that can reconfigure information being portrayed based on context, or what you are doing at the time. An example of the most advanced display of this type can be found in the recent announcement by QNX and Visteon about their work on the 2010 Range Rover cluster “...the largest TFT LCD ever to ship in a vehicle”. You can read more about it here: http://news.prnewswire.com/ViewContent.aspx?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/08-04-2009/0005071387&EDATE=

Basically, information can now be configured to display what is relevant to the driver at a given time. For example, when the car is put into reverse, rather than display tachometer information, a rear backup camera can display the image of what is behind the car, or perhaps when the Range Rover is in 4x4 mode information about the terrain can be displayed. Additionally, vehicles with new fuel technologies have all new types of information that can be displayed relating to fuel savings, best route to conserve battery, all kinds of “green” information that can be displayed. I can promise you the new Volt will have a digital display.

Another revolution is driving the adoption of these brilliant displays in vehicles. The revolution of a joyful user experience, arguably started by Apple (iphones, ipods, macs, etc.), is making its way into your automobile. Apple didn’t create the first MP3 player, heck I had an RCA Lyra in the early 1990s. What Apple did was make experiencing digital music easy and “joyful” oh and legal of course. The iphone took this a step further and made complicated information relevant to location, interests, search, social networking, photography, etc. also easy and pleasurable to experience.

Major vehicle brands have taken note. Not only will you be able to get access to a variety of information, when you need it, but also you will see vehicle brands embracing the latest user interface technologies to capture a bit of the magic that comes from making an experience visually pleasing and easy to use. These new reconfigurable displays will do just that. So get ready, your speedometer is about ready to get a major facelift.

My blog post has an early,Edge

I am wrong a good portion of the time, but it is nice when a prediction seems to be true. If you caught this announcement by Adobe about their new HTML 5 tool called Edge, it seems as though my blog prediction (Here) could have been correct. Time will tell. What do you think?

R.I.P. Unlimited Data - Now what?

North America, well specifically the US, was one of the only regions in which you could find unlimited data plans, but now wireless carriers, starting with AT&T, have begun to match the rest of the world by offering tiered / usage based data plans. This has interesting implications for automotive OEMs looking to build the next "connected" car.

To date you had 3 main ways to provide connectivity into the vehicle: Embedd a cellular radio, use data over a voice channel (think Ford's connected services over Airbiquity’s “modem”), or use some creative interaction with data provided by a consumer's handset. I will avoid the word "tethering" because, in fact, most of the carriers used to block formal tethering due to the unlimited rate plans. So this 3rd method I mention involved creative interactions between an application on the users handset and the vehicle. An example of this is PandoraLink.

PandoraLink in essence uses a command and control interface from a vehicle to "speak" to a Pandora application running on a handset and then stream that audio back into the car. This is an excellent approach in the world of unlimited data because you weren't tethering and additionally, as an OEM, you didn't have to absorb (or pass along) the added BOM cost of an embedded radio nor the added usage fees.

Ok so now tiered data is available and restrictions on tethering go away (although tethering becomes quite costly). For services such as Pandora, eliminating unlimited data *may* have an effect, but for some emerging video and gaming services (ex: OnLive) the new approach by carriers will effectively prohibit them from launching in a mobile environment. Different groups argue about the consumption of bandwidth by streaming audio solutions and if a tiered data plan will have any effect.

So looking into my crystal ball what do I think will happen? Well in the past carriers tried to build everything themselves, apps, services, content solutions, etc. Now controlling bandwidth gives them a new negotiating tool. Imagine a popular video or internet radio application. Now a carrier doesn’t have to build a competitive solution to gain incremental revenue. Instead they can cut deals with popular services for revenue shares and then offer packages that remove the data cap for those services. For instance a carrier could cut a deal with a popular internet radio or video service for a cut of revenue and then offer a "OnLive" or “Youtube” data package. 2 gigs of data and unlimited OnLive gaming or Youtube streaming.

So what is the impact for automotive?  Well first of all, I think this removes the risk of the unknown as to what will happen when carriers remove unlimited data. The time is now. There are now predictable terms to build connectivity models for automotive around. Tethering will now be a real solution, it will just be up to the OEMs to predict if tethering will be an acceptable option given the added cost to consumers. I also think, now that models are established, there is risk for OEMs and programs that are trying to work around formal tethering through serial connections to content and services. I think this solution will be eventually be disrupted by the carriers, or worse put the OEM in a position that the carriers demand money for accessing this functionality.
If I was an OEM I would start business modeling around the potential revenue that could be attributed to local search, vehicle bus data, etc. and try to monetize it in such a way to support a “kindle” type of plan in a vehicle (either for tethering or an embedded radio).

There is money to be made inside the vehicle its just time to quantify and leverage it.

15 Minutes . ok maybe 15 seconds

Today marks the official launch of the NG Connect project I have been involved in.  If you don't blink, you can catch me in the launch video: http://www.ngconnect.org/ecosystem/cc_video.html

Enjoyed..!

The New (Software) Tier 1

With regard to the automotive supply chain, what do you think of Microsoft, BSquare, Elektrobit, Apple, Google, and QNX? Traditionally, you would call these companies Tier 2 suppliers, meaning they supply services, support and technologies to the traditional Tier 1 suppliers — the Delphi, Visteon, Denso, Continental, etc’s of the world. Unless you have been living under a body control system (I didn’t think rock was appropriate), it should be very obvious that the interior electronic automotive supply chain is changing dramatically.

Take, for instance the role of Microsoft, Elektrobit, and Ford in the Sync project. Microsoft and Elektrobit really were the Tier 1 suppliers to Ford. For the next iteration it appears that Bsquare is the new Elektrobit in the mix. The “traditional” Tier 1 was quickly relegated to a contract manufacturer with a very small margin. Rumor has it that the Tier 1 could get bypassed altogether in future versions of Sync. According to this press release from Bsquare (http://www.bsquare.com/about/story.asp?PressID=507) “It used to be that auto makers went to companies like Continental, Delphi and Panasonics and ordered a component with a list of capabilities. "And a black box came back that fit in the dash," Crowley said. "Ford said, 'I'm going to break that cycle. I'm going to do this all myself.'"

What impact does this have to the industry in general? This new software tier 1 model has the potential to be challenging for traditional Tier1s, but also to OEMs given the automotive / economic doom and gloom. Why, you ask? Well obviously this new scenario may well impact traditional Tier 1s since now they are competing with the Flextronics of the world.

But for OEMs, at a time when cash conservation is critical, they are now paying for software up front rather than amortizing the software costs (Engineering, Tools, etc.) over a Tier 1’s piece price. Also, they no longer have such a strong buffer and share of risk for liability, warranty, indemnity (especially in the case of Linux investment), etc..

So what should be done? First, some misconceptions must be addressed. Tier 1 suppliers are, at heart, integrators and buffers for warranty, liability, etc. They are skilled not only in automotive lingo, but in the tough requirements and long term supply of the automotive market. I believe the complexity and cost of integration, version control, maintenance, updates, licensing, etc. are often under valued by car companies. As a result of this, IMHO, the new model of the software Tier 1 will have some growing pains before it matures. That being said, traditional Tier 1s need to embrace a more software-oriented skill set. Also, in the current economy, the temptation is to try to get more money up front from the OEMs. If your business can afford it, resist that urge and use it as a differentiator against this trend.

For OEMs, perhaps holding off a bit on the new world of Linux, Software Tier 1s and upfront investment (by you and your suppliers) in software is in order — at least until the economic situation improves. Let the early adopters of this strategy prove out the model (and risk) before wading in. It will allow you to manage cash in this critical time and keep your suppliers healthy. You know often they don’t just provide infotainment — you depend on them for quite a bit more.

Can Tier 1 Suppliers Keep Pace with Consumers - my thoughts from January 2008

Quick note:  Um . . . Sorry for my lack of posts.  The last 6 months were a blur.  My New Year resolution is to post more.  

Ok, just to give everyone a preview of what I am working on in terms of posts.  You can expect a post comparing VNC - "Terminal Mode", Video - iPod Out and HTML / HTML 5 - Blackberry Bridge in my next post.  Stay tuned.
Blast from the past. . . My thoughts about automotive and the changing role of the Tier 1 -- from January 2008

In one of my last posts I detailed what I thought we might see in automotive electronics in 2015.  That post got me thinking about my past predictions so I thought I would take a look at some old articles and blog starts that didn't make it to my blog.  I found an article I had composed exactly 3 years ago (January 2008).  I thought it would be interesting to share.

Let me set your expectations.  This article was created shortly after Toyota had announced that they were going to build an Automotive OS.  This never came to fruition, and in fact QNX just announced with Toyota that QNX would be one of the technology providers for Entune.  So let me just post this for your entertainment . . . Please Don't Judge.

Can Automakers and Tier 1 Automotive Suppliers Keep Pace with Consumer Demand?

January 2008 marked an automotive industry first. Not the release of a new hybrid engine, crash-avoidance system, or other product innovation, but rather the first time an automotive manufacturer, General Motors, delivered a keynote address at CES, the world’s premier consumer electronics trade show. Rick Wagner, the CEO of GM, told the CES crowd that “...if automobiles were invented today, I am pretty sure they would debut right here at CES... because more and more, that’s exactly what today’s cars and trucks are — highly sophisticated consumer electronics.”

Given this statement, it’s no surprise that developers of car infotainment and telematics systems face the same challenges as developers of other consumer devices. These challenges include shrinking development times, growing design complexity, and the need to accommodate modifications close to, or in some cases, after production. Case in point: When consumers buy a car today, they expect its infotainment system to work with the latest iPods, Bluetooth phones, or Internet services — even if the system was built before those devices or services appeared on the market. To satisfy these user expectations, many car stereos and infotainment systems must now support in-field upgrades.

To address these challenges, automakers and Tier 1 suppliers rely increasingly on software. In 2006, VDC senior analyst Matt Volckmann projected that “software alone will soon account for over 12% of the value of a car.” GM has long realized this fact. Back in 2004, Dr. Anthony Scott, the company’s chief information technology officer, stated that many GM products “...have become reliant on software to the point that they could not be sold, used, or serviced without it.” GM, of course, isn’t alone in its dependence on software; other automakers are in the same boat.

The growing use of software in the vehicle interior can, in fact, be traced to several market requirements, including personalization, brand differentiation, legislation, and connectivity to off-board devices and services. Each factor presents a challenge, as well as an opportunity, to automakers and their Tier 1 suppliers.

Personalization and differentiation

If the 1990s belonged to the “me” generation, the current decade belongs to the “my” generation. At every turn, consumers have the freedom to personalize their digital lifestyles, from customized face plates for their XBoxes to personal web pages on MySpace (2011 note: LOL Myspace). In Europe, for example, sales of personalized ringtones are expected to hit $1.1 billion in 2008. Capitalizing on this trend, some car-infotainment systems already allow drivers to generate playlists of their favorite music and to customize the in-dash display with personal photos.

In effect, automakers are using software to create the “MyCar.” The goal is to help consumers develop a more personal bond with their car and, not incidentally, the car’s brand. In an industry where the volume of new cars sold per year is relatively flat, the ability to maintain the loyalty of existing customers and to attract consumers from other brands is key.

Legislation

Citing safety concerns, many governments have passed laws that forbid the use of certain consumer electronic devices or services while driving. Case in point: In January 2008, Washington became the first U.S. state to criminalize text messaging while driving. To automakers, this trend presents an opportunity. If they can somehow enable consumer electronics, content, and services (often with location-aware features such as local traffic reports) to interact in a safe, reliable, and legal way, then they can differentiate their brand and build greater customer loyalty. (2011 Note: Interesting what we have found about the law banning texting and it's effects)

This is where software comes into play. Automakers are driving investments in software to enable safe, engaging, and often multi-modal interactions with mobile phones, portable navigation devices (PNDs), portable media players, and so on. And, as connectivity to the vehicle becomes ubiquitous, off-board services and content are being specifically tailored for the challenging automotive environment (noise, distraction, etc.) and even enhanced to form new automotive experiences for the consumer.

Two ends of the spectrum

Both these approaches have major implications for the automaker’s business, as well for the entire supply chain, including traditional Tier 1 suppliers. With the first approach, the automaker can focus on its core competencies, while leveraging a vendor that has more experience in creating consumer-oriented software. The automaker may also benefit from the brand recognition and marketing know-how of the software vendor. But at the same time, the automaker must exercise firm control to ensure that the solution is of sufficient quality — a challenge if the vendor has little experience in addressing the reliability requirements of the automotive sector. Also, if the software vendor extends its offering to other car companies, the automaker loses its market differentiator. (2011 Note:  Ford Sync had a rich experience, but a simplicity on the OS and middleware that kept Microsoft in it's sweet spot.  We are seeing how this approach with Microsoft is falling apart as complexity increases like with MyTouch)

This approach can also impact the Tier 1 supplier, who is now supplanted to some degree by the consumer software vendor. To counter this effect, Tier 1 suppliers must develop high levels of expertise in both software design and integration. In some infotainment systems, the software now comprises thousands of modules, creating an opportunity for any organization capable of advanced software integration. The need to keep pace with consumer electronics and services will also grow unabated. The more that Tier 1 suppliers develop expertise in these roles, the more they can maintain their importance in the automotive supply chain.

Automakers who adopt the “roll your own” approach can also present challenges to the traditional Tier 1 supplier. In this approach, the automaker has chosen, with the possible help of third parties, to become a software company. The question is, can the automaker ship enough vehicles to sustain a thriving ecosystem around their infotainment operating system? Will there be enough cars using the automaker’s proprietary platform to encourage third parties who specialize in speech technologies, multimedia, and consumer-electronics integration to support the platform and to keep it at the forefront of innovation? Also, will the burden of constantly enhancing or growing this automotive software stack remain with the automaker or eventually fall to the automaker’s Tier 1 supply chain? These answers may take a decade to determine, but at the heart of this approach is the automaker’s resistance to outsource a fundamental differentiator such as software.

Middle ground (2011 Note: Feel free to skip this part. . . its my pitch)

Some automakers are taking a third, “middle ground” approach. They continue to use industry-standard, automotive-grade hardware and software components from their traditional Tier 1 supply channel. However, they also work with these suppliers to integrate consumer electronics, services, and even automaker-specific technologies to create unique brand value and intellectual property. This approach still impacts the supply chain. In particular, the Tier 1 supplier is expected to serve as a system integrator, building a base platform of hardware and software components and then working closely with the automaker to integrate the automaker’s value-added intellectual property on top of these base platforms.

To address this challenge, some Tier 1 suppliers are building “open” software platforms that can accommodate a variety of requirements, without significant re-engineering. In most cases, these platforms combine a general-purpose 32-bit CPU with a standards-based real-time operating system (RTOS). The OS chosen typically provides a virtual-mode architecture with support for memory protection, which enables greater fault resilience and software upgradeability. In some cases, the OS also offers time and space partitioning, which simplifies integration by providing a guaranteed budget of CPU time and memory for each software subsystem. For instance, the system designer can specify that the HMI always gets 10% of CPU time, MP3 playback gets 20%, navigation gets 30%, etc. This approach prevents task starvation problems, which often cause serious delays at the integration phrase.

Increasingly, car radios, infotainment systems, and navigation units must interact with MP3 players, USB storage keys, DVD players, and digital media cards, not to mention future devices based on WiFi and Bluetooth data networking. To support this requirement, the OS must implement a modular and dynamic software architecture. For instance, a microkernel OS can mount and unmount file systems “on the fly” as consumer devices are plugged in or plugged out. The OS can also dynamically start and stop any hardware drivers that the devices may require. With this approach, an in-car system can support new media devices by simply downloading a small software “patch.”

Choosing the right approach

Coming full circle back to General Motors, it is no accident that Rick Wagner spoke at CES. You can see that companies like GM are looking at the car interior much like consumer electronics manufacturers look at their products. And, like consumer device manufacturers, automakers are relying more and more on software to differentiate their products. The battle for the consumer is playing out in the interior of the vehicle and, increasingly, software is becoming the weapon of choice."

So what do you think?  What did I get right?  What did I get wrong?  What has yet to play out?

Linkedin post too windy - Infotainment 2015 and beyond

Recently I took part in a linkedin thread on the future of Infotainment (see original thread here: http://tinyurl.com/2f37cqh). As I started to respond I realized that I had too much information for a simple post on a Linkedin group. So I took my response to my blog. Here it is:

(snip) Ok, so from my perspective the future of car infotainment is going to combine many of the posts in this thread (I will provide a summary then go into it a bit). For sure closer device connectivity will happen. Features that OEMs either find interesting business models around, are table stakes or that they want to ensure a consistent experience across all vehicle models and devices, will likely move to be built in. Then you will see a focus on cloud / internet based applications and services (with some partition with local content for non-connected times). Many of the systems will combine all three (pocket, cloud, car) applications, content and services.  How about a deeper dive into each of these areas?


In the short term, devices will address the impedance mismatch between the OEM vs Consumer device development cycles. You will first see this with standardized interfaces (like Bluetooth - SPP, MAP, etc.) but see much more device, and even application interaction with the vehicle. For example, we are seeing TONS of use cases for Bluetooth SPP for command, control and content sharing between vehicles and devices. In some cases Tier 1s and OEMs are relying on things like SLIP connectivity over SPP. I think you will see carriers block this functionality (IMHO) so be careful here. The next step will be application and potentially display sharing. You see this with Nokia Terminal Mode and Apple's new IPod Out. What Apple did right and Nokia will have to address is how to handle application / content policy management to block video / display sharing of content deemed not fit while driving (distraction, etc.). Again, in this way a new nav application, or other feature / content, could be either created by an OEM for a popular device and pushed to the vehicle, (perhaps even downloaded from a devices application store) or the OEM could enable other application vendors to target the car through the device.

The Car

Device connectivity and application sharing will be one method of enhancing (and being enhanced by) the vehicle’s interior environment, but it won’t be the only way. Enabling devices in an appealing, while safe, way in a vehicle will still necessitate quite a bit of electronics in the vehicle: Large displays, high end graphics processors, high end CPUs, Operating Systems, Speech recognition software, etc. All of this will still be in the vehicle even if much of the end users application experiences are enabled through the use of “pocket applications”. OEMs have a vested interest in a consistent end user experience for certain applications across all devices, carriers and vehicle models. Some of these applications over time will shift from being brought into the vehicle to being a feature too important to leave out of the vehicle or to need to rely on you always carrying your (associated) device.


So back on topic: Another thing to highlight is that new business models will emerge that OEMs will be remiss to not consider. Take for instance the sheer data an OEM’s telematics systems can collect. There are already rumors in the industry about trades being negotiated between Google and OEMs for vehicle data. There might be instances where enabling local search, maps, navigation, the display in a car, etc. might have financial benefits for the OEM or providing opt in “probe data / crowd sourcing” could benefit a driver in some way. In many cases implementing key features or even updating electronics and software will potentially be paid for by these new business models. Also, many costs currently absorbed into the vehicles BOM will be able to be offset by revenue associated with new business models. For example, Blackberry traffic was announced last year. This traffic application will be provided for free and will provide both real-time and historical traffic information. Traffic is something that has a significant cost in OEM systems today.

The “Cloud”

Audi MMI with Google Earth
Lastly, as ubiquitous connectivity comes to the vehicle more content and services will be able to shift to the “cloud” and the car will have the potential to be an application platform in its own right. Apple’s acquisition of Lala, Webkit and HTML 5 adoption, Google’s server based Voice Search, Microsoft’s Office and Azure, OnLive’s gaming experience . . . Just little proof points that consumer and business technologies are moving to embrace cloud based connectivity. You will see this have a dramatic impact in automotive. Costs will be offset by:

  •   removing large storage: used for map data, speech vocabulary, multimedia, . . .,
  •  license costs for speech rec, map and navigation data and algorithms, points of interest . . .
In addition to cost savings new revenue potentials will be revealed.  Some potential examples:
  • Geofenced advertising: “50% off pizza at Joes next exit”; “xyz, one of your favorite Pandora seed bands is playing a surprise show at the park up ahead”
  • Traffic brought to you by _________
  • Download the latest horn tone, or electric vehicle engine sound for $x
The real key in achieving the status as an application platform capable of driving an application and development community specifically targeting automotive will be rolling platform enabling electronics in all tiers of vehicles, enabling an open and consistent application environment and addressing the safety aspect of adding applications to a vehicle. OEMs under appreciate what potential they have for providing a large enough volume of devices to create an ideal platform for developers to target. Lets provide a bit of perspective. Apple has sold around 60 million iphones, since launch in 2007. I know my wife has owned 3 so not all of those phones are still in active use. Toyota ships in the neighborhood of 9 million cars per year. So in the same 3 year period you could have a very close volume of “active” “platforms” to target. Yes I am making some big leaps in this conclusion, but the point to make is that if a strategy is adopted to make an easy, open, rich, safe platform that can be inexpensive enough (or business models offset the cost) to launch into even low end vehicles cars themselves could have a rich development community of unique applications. And as more apps embrace the “cloud” HTML 5, Flash / AIR and other internet enabled technologies will touch the driver.

So what will the future of Infotainment be:  All of the above . . . likely at the same time. (/snip)

Ford throws in the kitchen "Sync" - My thoughts on Ford

For the first part of the last decade Ford was often viewed as the weakest of the herd of automobile manufacturers in the area of in-cab electronics. This was exemplified by the failure of the Ford / Qualcomm joint venture, Wingcast, in 2002.  As recent as 2006, Ford was still shipping systems with a branched version of PSOS from 1996 in most of their new vehicle systems – (ask me how I know. . . oh ya I have a 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid with a PSOS Nav system. PSOS. . . the acronym I can make from the name would be quite applicable . . . I digress) .

Ford quickly realized they were being outpaced in technology and needed a way to leapfrog the industry while removing costs from the supply chain that made it difficult to deploy systems in entry level vehicles.

Desperation breeds innovation and Ford was desperate. They reached out to software suppliers rather than the traditional Tier 1 supply chain. Thus the Microsoft, Elektrobit, Ford and to a lesser extent Continental based Sync was born. Microsoft needed a big win and Ford needed innovation.

Even though Ford didn’t do anything completely original, what they did was use technology and a new supply chain to provide features usually reserved for the highest end (often least techno-savvy) class of vehicles / consumers to the Facebook, Pandora crowd. They did this in a cost effective way that could be mainstream, in all classes of vehicles and link to a consumer’s favorite device.

Ford also took risks both with Microsoft from a quality and supplier perspective, but also in allowing for updates direct to the consumer.

People can argue about Microsoft and Ford’s approach but all the research I have seen shows that Sync is selling cars. There is no argument that Ford has got momentum among the big 3 and was the only one of them that didn’t seek Chapter 11 protection.

Ford is now seen as an electronic, business model and supply chain innovator, but also has had to deal with the shadow of Microsoft’s brand.

At CES, Ford continued to outpace its rivals by launching the MyTouch system. It is my belief that they are hedging their bets about Microsoft's commitment to automotive by moving to more generally available technologies (such as using Adobe Flash for the UI rather than Microsoft’s UI or Silverlight derivative. Originally Sync was just a repurposed Zune. . . Now rather than using the Silverlight flavor in the ZuneHD, Ford stepped away from Microsoft.

It will be interesting to see what comes next. For sure Ford put its rivals on notice again. Especially those considering GenIVI which likely won’t have anything like MyTouch available until 2015. . . I wonder what Ford will have then?

GenIVI – “Generally Expected Not for In Vehicle Infotainment”

Last week at the Intel Developer’s Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, Intel CEO, Paul Otellini announced in his keynote that Intel’s Atom processor would be used in upcoming 2012 Model Year BMW and Daimler vehicles. The OS to be used? QNX Neutrino RTOS. What I find interesting is:


  • BMW is THE leading advocate for Linux in automotive and founding board member of GenIVI
  • Intel created GenIVI and is a founding board member that pushed Linux as the only OS for GenIVI (see my comments on that approach here: http://anarchistgrafiti.blogspot.com/2009/03/when-license-is-single-point-of-failure.html) and primarily focused on the Atom Architecture
  • WindRiver was recently acquired by Intel (see my blog comment on this: http://anarchistgrafiti.blogspot.com/2009/06/wintel-becomes-windtel.html) for it’s Linux competence and is also a founding member of GenIVI
So at the end of the day team GenIVI didn’t give itself the win in stacked competition? You have to wonder why that might have been? Perhaps we should look to Linus Torvalds’ recent commentary at LinuxCon where he stated that the Linux kernel has become "huge and scary" and that it isn't "the streamlined, hyper-efficient kernel I envisioned when I started writing Linux."
Perhaps GenIVI should consider its OS strategy. . . QNX might be a good choice

"Wintel" changes its meaning


In case you missed the news, on June 4th, Intel purchased the embedded Operating System company, Wind River. You can read the press release here:

http://www.intel.com/pressroom/archive/releases/20090604corp.htm

Having worked in the embedded market since the early 90s it is interesting to see the evolution from the tight Intel and Microsoft coupling, once sarcastically referred to as "Wintel", deteriorate to to the point that perhaps the new slang should be Lintel (as there is little doubt that Intel's acquisition was for the Linux part of Wind River).

With speculation that Windows 7 may get ported to the ARM architecture and Intel grasping at the handset and mobile markets with Linux, the marriage between Microsoft and Intel seems to be near to an end. Interestingly, the day before the Intel purchase, a Microsoft spokesperson had this to say about the rumors of a Windows 7 ARM port:

“At this time, Windows 7 does not support any ARM architecture. Currently, Windows works on both x86 and x64 platforms, which, thanks to the pervasive PC hardware standard, power the vast majority of the world’s laptops and desktops. In the specialized devices space, where ARM is well suited, we offer the Windows Embedded CE platform.”

Notice the key phrase "at this time". I, for one, hope Windows 7 comes to ARM as I would like to finally see some real battery life out of full featured Microsoft based laptop.

I once joked with my nerdy friends that "10 years ago would you have thought that Apple would run a PC (X86) Architecture (instead of Power Architecture / PPC) and Microsoft would run PPC (like they do in the XBOX 360)." Perhaps the relationship was changing as far back as 6 or 7 years ago when those decisions were made. Being involved in the original Xbox concept with AMD and bearing witness to Intel's power with Microsoft back then really makes the situation shocking.

So, what is my opinion of the Intel acquisition? It may help Intel build some credibility in the handset space for their first *almost* capable part, the Intel ATOM, particularly given the involvement in Android by Wind River. Also, I think Android will start to be an operating environment that will directly challenge the traditional OS model that is the mainstay of Microsoft. So battle lines may in fact be being drawn around these new class of netbooks, perhaps looking something like Microsoft and ARM vs Intel and Google.

As for the embedded market: I think the real winners in Intel's acquisition will be the other embedded Linux vendors, like Montavista, and Real Time OSes, like QNX. Fear of limited support for other hardware may send Wind River customers en mass to alternatives and ARM licensees (TI, NEC, ST, Freescale, etc.) will be looking for new partners.

CeBit 2009 - Infotainment Comparison

Wow! CeBit exhibition was down almost 30% from last year and nearly 50% from its peak. And, though I heard official numbers put attendance down only 20% from last year, it seemed to me more like 50%. With the number of backpacks that seemed to emerge on Thursday and Friday, I wonder if attendance was inflated with students.

All of that being said, automotive was well represented with booths and / or attendance by GM, Audi, VW, BMW, PSA and others. Tier 1s, Continental and Harman Becker, each had demonstration systems . . . with the HBAS system far more responsive and impressive (see video comparison)

I would have compared the GenIVI Linux based solution, but as you can see from the HBAS video, Intel is still pushing the QNX based demonstrations as the Linux system doesn't yet exist. ;)

Learn something new every day

I just had one of those moments where I questioned my intelligence or at least my skill of observation.

I have been a traveler for business for nearly 20 years and for most of my career I have been in automotive yet I only just learned something new about cars that you might find funny.  For sure this knowledge would have been useful these many years. 

Before getting to this new gem, let me quickly describe my typical car rental return: 
  • I am usually late for a flight
  • I did not select the "pre pay fuel" option
  • I usually know where a nearby gas station is
  • I almost always pull into a gas station with my car door open and my neck straining to see which side of the car the fuel tank access is on
  • I pick wrong about 30% of the time. . . which usually means turning the car around
Please tell me I am not the only one that can't figure out which side of the car to offer up to the fuel pump?  Please?

Dan Brown would scoff and my inability to recognize the symbolism on the typical fuel guage in the typical car. (see below)


When did car manufacturers add in that little arrow?  Why wasn't it highlighted in drivers ed?  Why have I missed it all of these years?  Wow!  I feel really dumb.

A twittering toilet “flushed” my patent idea

During a recent automotive brainstorming session, I realized that automotive companies were really interested in the phenomenon that is social networking, but most of them were viewing the automobile as a renderer of content relating to social networking. That gave me an idea. What if the car, or any device for that matter, could be an active participant in a driver’s social network? Why wouldn’t we want to enable any device to be a “friend” and contributor?

After that “ah ha” moment I decided to create a patent application and pitch it to my management team. They agreed it sounded like a great idea (in fact one quote from our senior management was “well if I don’t understand it, it must be a good idea”) and asked our legal department to start the process for patent application. Well wouldn’t you know that they very next day my news feed produced the following headline: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/08/twittering-toaster/

Not the use case I envisioned but prior art none-the-less. =(

I thought I would share my patent summary anyway:

Descriptive Summary:
With advancements in ubiquitous connectivity and computing power devices are now capable of “knowledge” of location, environment (site, sound and touch), etc. This invention describes leveraging this data to allow for a device to be an active participant in social networking as an artificially intelligent being capable of independent contributions.

Description:
While this invention applies to a variety of devices specifically I will focus on the implementation and use cases enabled in an automotive environment. This invention will enable a vehicle to become an active, artificially intelligent participant in social networking and communication. With the computing power and location aware sensors now being deployed in telematics, navigation, infotainment etc. coupled with ubiquitous connectivity to portable devices, between modules in the car, to infrastructure and to the internet, vehicles have the technology necessary to proactively communicate to owners and “friends” in a sentient way. An example of this would be the active participation of a blog or twitter account populated directly from the vehicle. Pre-programmed functions could be coupled with location and vehicle data to populate status updates, pictures and blogs. Take for instance the following example: Tom drives 40 miles to work each day, on average he exceeds the speed limit by 7 miles per hour. The vehicle could take information about route, speed, fuel economy and individual driver to populate content on a blog: “Tom drives me every day and if he would only drive me 4 miles per hour slower and take the express way more often he would save 4 gallons of gas per week. Based on the pricing from his favorite gas station that would be over $500 / year he could save.” Another example could be Andrew who takes his Jeep 4x4 driving. The Jeep could specifically post where they went and even upload pictures from an external camera (already included for lane departure warnings). The Jeep could even post what music was being played in the car during the drive possibly even uploading a small snippet from the internal microphone (already in the car for Handsfree communication) to complete the experience.

In each of these examples the vehicle could round out the updates to a owners life experiences with their vehicle building brand loyalty as well as enhancing safety. The vehicle could report “tweets” to traffic information to keep a drivers hands on the wheel. It could even read others posts / tweets relating to current location information.

Another example would be the vehicle posting to its owners facebook that it misses her driving. For example: “I miss you driving me Amanda, Tom only takes me back and forth to work with no new things to see”. Or to communicate specific information. Ex: Andrew, I wanted to let you know I found a problem and couldn’t figure it out on my own so I sent the information to the dealership and they will likely be in contact with you to help us figure it out.

All of the examples of capabilities exist in a vehicle today, the unique invention is the use of a device or vehicle as an active participant in collating and communicating information and experiences independently without specific interaction from the owner / end user.

The automotive market typically has been stagnant in the total number of vehicles sold / year. (an exception being this past year). In such a market to increase market share means to keep existing customers loyal to your brand and attract customers of your competitors to your models. This invention helps to aid in the personalization and connection established between a driver and “my car”. Additionally, by enabling tight interaction between a vehicle and its owner’s life / networks / friends / environment, it makes it difficult to decouple that connection in a parting. Just like a relationship it is difficult to “break up” so when it is time to purchase a new vehicle many of the settings and interactions can be transferred from one car to another of the same brand.

“Say, Say, Say” it’s not so Michael Jackson is Gone Too Soon

You know the media will now take the situation and "Beat It" to death. . . they just "Don't Stop Until You Get Enough". If you are frustrated by all of the coverage, "You are not alone". Personally, I think it is "Bad" also. I know many "Wanna be startin somethin" and post a flame or blog about it, and that is just "Human Nature", but perhaps you should look at "The Man in the Mirror" and try to find a way to "Heal the World" without all of the dramatic flair.

Not that I think any of us should keep it "in the closet", but a negative post is "Dangerous" and makes some people want to "Scream". Instead, take a nostalgic trip to the past. . ."Remember the Time" you drove in your car listening to a Michael Jackson “Jam”? Or when you were out searching for a "P.Y.T", perhaps named "Dirty Dianna", or "Billie Jean".

Don’t remember Michael in terms of "Black or White", or even about him being the “Smooth Criminal” that he was, but instead, think, if you could see him right now, what would inspire you to say "you rock my world". Focus on his aspects of being a "Thriller" and entertainer. After all, the one thing he for sure taught us was that, together, "We are the World".

Sorry. . . had to do it. When I started this blog I made the obscure reference to zombies as well as automobiles being discussed on this blog. Well, if I could think of a critical memory of my first car ever it was driving my AMC Javelin (automotive), listing to Thriller (zombies) with my Carver tape deck. This post is to pay my respects to that memory, and heck it's my blog. . . it doesn't have to be always strictly automotive. =)

My letter to President Barack Obama


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I have a proposal to save the government, and therefore the US taxpayer (me), billions of dollars per year in both real, physical infrastructure spending as well as billions more related to the economic burden of congestion. Here’s how:

In the recent “Autopocalypse” unfolding, the US taxpayer has pumped over $15 billion into General Motors. While I am no bankruptcy expert, if GM seeks protection, as seems likely, I believe the taxpayer will see minimal, if any, return on that investment. GM is sitting on a HUGE asset to the public good, namely Onstar. GM has shipped over 16 million vehicles equipped with Onstar and is likely to ship 3 million more this year alone.

Onstar can collect data relating to average speed, weather conditions, incident reports and many other useful bits of data that today the federal and state governments spend billions to duplicate and disseminate to the public (road sensors, traffic monitors, cameras etc.). Due to cost, this information is only captured for the major metropolitan areas and is often an aggregation of sensors, 911 incident data, etc. By the time the DOT, and public sector aggregators transmit that data, it is often out of date. With over 16 million Onstar “probes” on the road today much of this information could be gathered in real-time without added infrastructure costs.

My proposal is to negotiate a non-exclusive right for the government to gain access to information from Onstar, in an obfuscated way, relating to speed, weather (wind shield wipers on / off, etc.), crash, etc. That information could replace physical infrastructure spend on street sensors, cameras, etc. Additionally, it could provide more current real-time traffic, weather, etc. data that both the public and the private sectors could aggregate (like they do now from the DOT) and disseminate to consumers in a way that would reduce commute times and accidents.

The NHTSA estimated “The 2000 economic costs of U.S. highway crashes, excluding the cost imposed on society by travel delays and wage-risk premiums, was $205 billion (Blincoe et al., 2002)”. Having data from Onstar could help reduce accidents, and therefore costs, related to traffic, but perhaps more importantly direct costs related to congestion. Some studies suggest congestion costs as much as $222 billion dollars / year (see: http://www.vtpi.org/tca/).

I think licensing this specific content would not decrease viability of GM, Onstar or any company trying to purchase Onstar assets as Onstar does not currently leverage this data.

So in summary, before allowing GM to sell off Onstar assets or loose this critical opportunity to leverage the money the taxpayer has already spent with GM, please consider my proposal:

· License GM / Onstar sensor / “probe” data (current and future) in an obfuscated way (to protect privacy concerns) – You don’t have to have the IT in place to use it yet, just negotiate the license!
· Save physical infrastructure costs related to congestion information for the taxpayer
· Gain more real-time information related to road conditions, congestion, incidents, weather than ever before
· Leverage the investment made in GM and Onstar by the US taxpayer
· Act quickly before this valuable asset is removed from access.

Thank you for your consideration.

Warmest Regards,

Andrew Poliak

P.S. I think this is a political “freebee” as I can’t think of a constituent you would be disappointing.

Green is the new black . or at least the new strategy to get into the black

Recently a car company mentioned to me that every ounce of current draw in an electric vehicle is essentially "gas" and between the US Governments new focus (and stimulus) on alternative energy sources / improved mileage and potential car buyers still feeling the recent pain of $4 / gallon gas, the entire automotive supply chain is positioning, (or repositioning), themselves around “green” technology campaigns.

Take for example the recent announcements from Bose and Harman Becker around energy efficient audio and infotainment systems:

Bose Energy Efficient Series Automotive Sound System - “30% smaller, 40% lighter, 50% less energy . . .”
http://www.bose.com/controller?event=VIEW_STATIC_PAGE_EVENT&url=/automotive/innovations/energy_efficient_series/index.jsp

Harman Kardon® GreenEdgeTM based audio and infotainment systems – “meeting the needs of energy-conscious customers without compromising performance”
http://www.harman.com/press/general_press.aspx?st=


Not just tier 1 suppliers are promoting Green, but also traditional and upstart car manufacturers and even their respective governments. It is interesting to note that the leader of one of the world’s largest economies, California’s Governator, was not only at CeBit pitching Californian companies, but will be the Keynote speaker at the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) World Congress this April. Outside of promoting his legislative track record, such as his Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 or his Hydrogen Highway and Million Solar Roofs Plan, I think Governor Schwarzenegger’s real agenda has the state economy in mind. California has the largest concentration of electric vehicle startups in the US and includes such well known names as Tesla, Fisker, Zap, Aptera (see video of my coworker beating on an Aptera car), etc. The theme to this years’ SAE World Congress: "Racing to Green Mobility"
Kerry smashing an Aptera EV

With the automotive industry currently experiencing the Autopocalypse (TM – ME) I believe the automotive supply chain is leveraging “Green” to get near term R&D and stimulus dollars while at the same time investing in innovation in order be on the leading wave of the recovery. My guess is that The Governator is the front man in California’s automotive strategy, positioning California as only he can:

California - “We’ll be Baak”

When a license is the "single point of failure"

Last week, at CeBit, I had the opportunity to witness the launch of the GenIVI consortium. Graham Smethurst, of BMW, did an excellent job summarizing the challenges facing automotive OEMs and Tier 1s that led to the creation of GenIVI. The theory is that you can plug-in any conforming middleware (speech rec, navigation engine, etc.) into the GenIVI framework. The ultimate goal of GenIVI being to create standard interfaces to reusable modules. I walked away struggling with only one point: his contention that everything in GenIVI was created to remove any "single point of failure".

The reason I struggled with this point was because of the use of a single OS, Linux, for GenIVI. While there might be many distributions of Linux they all share one thing in common the GNU Public License (GPL). If Linux is the only OS for GenIVI, then it stands to reason that GPL then becomes THE single point of failure. (see my thoughts on GPL in automotive)

If it were me, I would have built GenIVI on an industry standard API like POSIX rather than a specific OS. In this way even the OS licensing could be varietal (GPL, LGPL, BSD, etc.)

10 Reasons ;Real Husbands of Hollywood Should be a Real Sow

Could this spoof be the next big TV comedy?
 

 
From BET.com
Hands down, one of the star moments from the 2011 BET Awards was the reality show spoof Real House Husbands of Hollywood.  Bringing together Bobby Brown, Kevin Hart, Jermaine Dupri, Nick Cannon and Nelly, the clips were a hilarious twist on the Real Housewives series, briefly poking fun at the turbulent personas of celebrities. Since the send-up has gone viral, folks may be looking for Real House Husbands to become its own series. Here are some reasons why a permanent show should be considered...

10. Because we prefer to laugh at a slightly scripted version of Bobby Brown’s insanity as opposed to his real-life craziness.

9. Because Tammy’s talent for acting the crazy, confrontational cast member would work better here than being one on any episode of Basketball Wives.

8. Because Nick Cannon’s willingness to poke fun at his married life—apart from being extremely brave—was one of funniest aspects of the show.

7. Because we want Jermaine Dupri to be just as brave about making fun of his former relationship with Janet Jackson.

6. Because Mariah Carey could make a special guest appearance.

5. Because every season the show could rotate cast members. Just think of a season with Mike Tyson, Eric Benet, Kevin Federline, Katt Williams and DMX.

4. Because we’d rather watch a spoof of a juicy reality series than another insipid, exploitative reality show with Black folks displaying the worst behavior.

3.  Because this is the perfect vehicle for a Nelly comeback.

2.  Because this will help us finally forgive Kevin Hart for starring in Soul Plane.

1. Because, point blank, it could be the genius black TV comedy we’ve been looking for since the cancellation of Everybody Hates Chris.

The Death of the Black Child TV Star

Are the glory days of this adorable archetype long gone?


From BET.com
By Marcus Reeves

As the anniversary of Gary Colemen’s (May 28) tragic death quickly approaches, folks old enough to remember are reminded of how his passing marked the end of an era. More so, the end of an archetype—the Black child TV star. I’m talking about those kid stars whose onscreen celebrity exploded beyond age, race and the boob tube to create a supernova that could forge a Black media presence as an unprecedented phenomenon as well as a tragic Hollywood burn-out.


We were introduced to the pioneers of this elite group via ‘70s repeats of the Our Gang short film series on television. Allen “Farina” Hoskins—the first Black child screen star—may have appeared the typical pickaninny with his ratty clothing and signature pigtail braids. But Hoskins’ increasing popularity in the ‘20s didn’t just reportedly earn him more pay than his white co-stars but the clout to evolve Farina into an on-screen leader of his crew. Ditto for Hoskins’ replacement, Matthew Beard, whose slick-tongued, con artist character “Stymie” earned him such star-power for his comedic ability, Stan Laurel (half of the Laurel and Hardy comedy team) presented him with the gift of a derby—the highly-regarded crown of a good comedian.


The resurfacing of Hoskins’ and Beard in the ‘70s, via TV, was the perfect accompaniment to the rise of the Black child TV star. Rodney Allen Rippy, with his adorable cheeks and manicured afro, kicked the party off, becoming a pop culture superstar after appearing in a commercial for the Jack in the Box fast food chain. Rippy’s TV appeal—and appearances—opened America’s living rooms to the ‘70s B.K.W.A. (Black Kids With Attitude), including Ralph Carter’s midget militancy (and, later, Janet Jackson’s Mae West-impressions) on Good Times. Though it was one of the show’s guest stars, Gary Coleman, who marked the high point of the Black child star on television.


Playing the lovably smart-mouthed Arnold Jackson on Diff'rent Strokes, Coleman became the kid America—young and old—couldn’t get enough of. With TV movies, a Saturday morning cartoon, merchandising and not to mention that iconic phrase (“Wut’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”), Coleman created the Black child TV star industry, opening doors for the popularity of the Cosby kids, Raven-Symoné and, the last of the major Black child TV stars, Jaleel White (a.k.a. Steve Urkel).


Although this archetype has completely disappeared off network TV in the 21st century, there are remnants of them on cable, translating fame in a niche market—primarily among kids—into power and wealth. But can their stars ever shoot into a galaxy beyond? Don’t bet on it.

Jay-Z with Jon Stewart

I've so wished for an intelligent mainstream discussion on rap. Saw Jay's first interview with Bill Maher on "Real Time" a year ago but he seemed guarded and less prepared for a serious socio-cultural discussion. Wasn't thrilled with the recent NYC Library discussion either. But on this "Daily Show" interview Jay had the discussion I wanted to hear, with humor of course. Then again, Jon Stewart gets the heart of the what needs to be discussed.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Jay-Z Extended Interview
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

An Obama-nation on Black Fathers and Black Responsibility


Seems that if black folks can't take a little heart-felt and good-spirited criticism from legendary black comedians, then they should definitely look forward to it coming from the White House. That is if Barack gets in. For Father's Day, the presidential hopeful made a speech at Chicago's largest black church blasting black America on a number of its social ills. Among those: black fathers who won't except responsibility and raise their children.
"They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."


And the pathology of underachievement and mediocrity:
“Don’t get carried away with that eighth-grade graduation... You’re supposed to graduate from eighth grade.”


In a New York Times, piece on the speech reporter Julie Bosman made an observant note that on the campaign trail last February Obama took a mostly-black audience to task on the issue of nutrition:
“I know how hard it is to get kids to eat properly,” Mr. Obama said. “But I also know that folks are letting our children drink eight sodas a day, which some parents do, or, you know, eat a bag of potato chips for lunch. Buy a little desk or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework.”


Now, don't get me wrong. I, too, think the panacea for what ails black folks, in part, is a healthy dose of do-for-self and take-responsibility-for-self. But I find it very interesting that there is no—and will be no— uproar from black public intellectuals over Barack's very public chastisement of those in the black lower class. Especially from Michael Eric Dyson, who's based part of his hype around publicly browbeating Bill Cosby for the infamous pound cake speech. After all, there's no difference from what the Cos' said and what Barack is saying...Or is it? Is it that since he's running for president and Dyson is one of his celebrity supporters. (And, oh, there's no book money to be made or street cred in trashing a black man who might win the highest office in the country.)

Either way, it's been every interesting to see the growth of the get-off-your-asses-black-people-movement that seems to be catching on in the 21st Century (thanks, Million Man March). It's gonna be even more interesting to see the public reaction to a black man living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue saying, "Niggas, please get it together."