12 Volt: There’s An App for That

Last month I saw a clip of Sarah Silverman on Conan, the Conan O’Brien show, showing off a cool little trick with an iPhone, and it made me laugh … a lot. [Google it to see the clip; it delves too much into the female anatomy to be discussed here. —Ed.]

The beauty of the iPhone (yeah, I know there are knockoffs—pointing at you, Android lovers) is that it is a device that is greater than the sum of its parts. It allows the user to use it as intended (stock), to take it a step further (modified), or to completely re-imagine things to the point that they become completely different and new (all-out!) My point is that sometimes apps are used as intended, and other times they just take on a life of their own, as Ms. Silverman proved during her Conan appearance.

I remember the first iPhone, and the first SEMA after getting it. The promise of the device was immense. There were no less than twenty vendors that talked up the products they would be creating. Some even had proof-of-concept representations. Fast forward to today, and the offerings are aplenty. These include, but are not certainly not limited to, portable dynos, ODB testing hookups, navigation, and of course car audio. The most interesting part to me is the fact that a lot of the units are wireless and work without any special knowledge other than the location of the OBDII port. That’s a game changer for sure. Let’s elaborate on what exactly that means for retailers.

Changing the Game
Let’s face it: The days of the secret code, hidden button combos, and non-obtainable ‘service manuals’ are all but gone. Today a consumer can actually walk into most places knowing more about the vehicle they own than ever—through OBDII and CarFax. They know more about its condition than we as the ‘experts’ might even know. However, that doesn’t mean they know what to do with the info. It just simply means they can call BS (or may incorrectly call BS) more quickly. It’s a game changer, because you’ll need to know what the data means, and how (or if) it applies to a customer’s vehicle. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vehicle performance issue, a sound system performance issue, or just a difference from yesterday. Digging into data that a consumer has never seen before—and most haven’t had to deal with before—can be daunting. Of course, lying never works, but one might have to be careful how much truth they tell—or they can get themselves deep into an un-winnable situation in regards to respect and rapport. “Wow, I can see you really beat the crap out of your car by seeing how many times you hit the rev limiter … “

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