Stick to what you’re good at. For BMW, that’s building cars, not navigation systems

My 2001 BMW has a navigation system. It sucks. Even in 2001 when the car was brand new, it sucked. I think there are two reasons:

  1. Car development cycles are long. A navigation system in a 2001 car was being designed years before that 
  2. BMW simply isn’t good at designing navigation systems. The badass mechanical engineers in Munich don’t know anything about user interfaces 

That’s why I was super happy to read about BMW’s new ConnectedDrive system. It lets you dock your iOS4 iPhone or iPad to your car and use it through the in car controls.

Ever since the iPod came out in 2001, I’ve been waiting for a car manufacturer to stick one in their dashboard. But instead they kept building crappy information systems, with mediocre iPod support. Almost 10 years later, they are beginning to see the light.

BMW’s development of navigation systems is a great example of what startups should not do.

  1. Don’t have long development cycles. You should ship early and often. Be nimble. Iterate and pivot quickly. Stay ahead of the competition. 
  2. Stick to what you’re good at. A startup doesn’t have time to build everything. You should build what you are the best at. Other stuff should be outsourced or ignored. 

At Posterous, we’re all about posting and sharing. And we’re fortunate to have partners like Rackspace for hosting, Mixpanel for analytics, Zencoder for video, and others. These guys let us focus on what we do best.



  1. I think the navigation systems for BMW (and so on) are made in cooperation with companies like Bosch or Continental. And of course your 2001 BMW isn’t comparable to modern models. But you’re right, the cycles are damn long, the updates are rare and very expensive. Still, the integration is best…

  2. I’m surprised that you suggest that the iPhone/iPad GPS is better than most other nav systems. The iPhone GPS and interface is mediocre at best and placed side by side with some of the dedicated GPS units out there, is downright crap. i.e. Not being able to plan a multiple stop route. Not being able to adjust a route. Not having traffic incorporated into the route. And the propensity for the iPhone GPS to ‘wander’. I’m a service man and I want so badly to use my iPhone for my GPS unit, but the built-in limitations make it a poor tool at best. Putting the iPad/iPhone into a BMW is a gimmick – not a positive selling feature.

  3. We have 2001 BMW and have been looking for new options. Is BMW Connected Drive System available thru BMW now? Do you buy equipment thru BMW? TY.

  4. I don’t even bother even a dime or penny on a $2000 navi system when I can use maps on my super smartphone the Samsung i8910 Omina HD or other similar devices that can be taken out and about besides the inside of a dashboard.

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