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By: Stephen Feinberg

…is the ugly, confusing screen in the middle of the dashboard that increasingly controls not only navigation and phone but such previously mundane functions as temperature, gear selection and music. This trend has accelerated in seeming defiance of consumer dissatisfaction. Ford has made its dreadful (and dreadfully named) MyFord Touch one of the centerpoints of its marketing in 2012, and in a Lexus hybrid thingy I recently test-drove, you couldn’t travel 10 feet without scrolling through a bunch of windows and drop-down menus.

Matt Seiden’s protests aside, this technology sucks. It’s badly designed, glitch-y and hard on the eyes. And that’s not just me talking: everyone from curmudgeonly Consumer Reports to tech geeks at Wired agree screen-based controls (and their unruly siblings, voice-activated commands)  are not ready for prime time and can put you in a ditch or worse when you’re hunting for the menu option you want when that semi in front of you takes a turn without signaling. J.D. Power found screen-based technology the #1 source of complaints among vehicle owners recently.

Kludgy tech? Sloppy engineering? Bad aesthetics? Bean-counter oversight? Big potential market? That’s a recipe for….



Apple.

Am I missing something? Why hasn’t BMW or Mercedes or Porsche partnered with Apple to solve this? Is it Teutonic pride? Is it Apple’s take-it-or-leave-it approach with partners? Or is it (my theory) that Apple would want a free hand in redesigning the rest of the vehicle/s instrument panel or entire interior for that matter to showcase its jewel? Can you see the ghost of Steve Jobs being happy with the iDash system being housed in a fake zebrawood console?