Saturday, December 25, 2010

Where Mobile Cannot Succeed

Mobile cannot solve everything. Witness Hyundai, trying to use mobile to help take their brand upscale. The new model is the Equis, and the concept is that the owners manual is an iPad app. The iPad comes included when you purchase the car.

Neat idea. But there's a problem.

Hyundai makes some pretty nice cars. But they haven't yet overcome a brand image that is left over from when they made some pretty crappy cars. So while a premium car is nice to have, it's going to be difficult for Hyundai to sell. And the iPad and app is nice to have too, but that alone is not going to give Hyundai brand recognition on par with Mercedes Benz.

In fact, even Honda, Toyota and Nissan haven't tried to compete directly with Mercedes Benz. At least not with their primary brand names. It took the launching of Acura and Infiniti and Lexus brand names, with separate dealer networks for them to be able to compete. This is what Hyundai should do.

It's expensive to launch a new brand and a new dealer network. But it's even more expensive to wait for your brand to outgrow something as negative as Hyundai experienced in the 80s. Even though it's already been 20 years, it could take another 20.

I do think that they make some good cars. And I applaud their efforts with the iPad and app. But I don't think that alone is going to make Hyundai the next Mercedes Benz.

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