October 19, 2010
I traveled to Las Vegas with my girlfriend. We were driving by car, and we had a little GPS unit with us. On the way there we got hungry and decided to look for a restaurant. While at the gas station, we looked through the list of restaurants that were nearby us. This was something I have done multiple times before, but this time I was struck with a paradigm shift: The exposure a simple list offers a restaurant, eliminates the problems of bad physical exposure.
With GPS listings of restaurants, the Indian Restaurant buried deep in the strip mall has as much exposure as the McDonald’s on the corner. Of course, this does not eliminate the competitive advantage Starbucks and McDonald’s have of being familiar. And if you’re traveling by visuals, you’ll still see the restaurant on the corner first.
With self-driving cars, this will go even further. The necessity to discriminate by visuals could disappear. You simply get hungry, dial in your desired food, and arrive at the location. The car will have become the mobile room it has always attempted to be.