So - we’ve all seen the Montblanc e-Strap yes? A watch strap that has smart-watch functionality and thus complements the analogue watch it holds onto your wrist - and not necessarily a Montblanc analogue watch at that. A very clever idea and surely the first disruptive bit of tech for 2015?
It’s significant for many reasons; but its greatest significance for us is for its implication (or potential implication) on the car space.
Why? Because car brands are still fighting a losing battle in preserving a closed loop approach to their in-car experiences, and yet they could be ‘doing a Montblanc’ and invading the in-car experience of their competitors
Montblanc is an archetype upper-premium consumer brand. It has come a long way in recent times from producing posh pens; it now sells over a hundred watch lines ranging from about 2000 to 10,000 Euros. With the tech brands bringing in smart-watches you might suppose that it would be in the process of bringing in some ‘smart’ functionality to some of its models - just as car brands are responding by approximating smart-phones with aspects of their in-car HMI perhaps. But instead of fighting their corner against the Goliaths of Samsung, Sony and LG - and soon Apple of course - Montblanc have decided to do something different, something simpler: something that compliments what they do and that will take their brand into the world of other time pieces. They have designed the e-Strap to bring a Montblonc idea of smartness to the user of any watch. And at the same time this allows them to not loose sight of their focus on producing very finely crafted analogue watches.
Car brands could be doing this too, particularly the upper premium brands. Creating a bit of their own brand specific in-car experience as a ‘bolt-on’ that can augment both their own car environments and that of their competitors'. And car brands could also focus on progressing the premium and brand specific experience that their interior designs deliver, and not allow inevitably second grade digital HMI solutions to compromise this.
Imagine driving your Mercedes / Bentley / Cadillac into the dealership of another car brand to have the automotive equivalent of an e-Strap fitted while you wait. To leave in your car but with core aspects of you in-car experience now delivered by another car brand. Now wouldn’t that be a major coup to deliver if you were Tesla, BMW i or Kia perhaps? Invading the in-car experience of your competitors.