General Motors Creates Stupidest Mobile App EVER

Getting the gradeI came across a recent article on ComputerWorld about GM’s China R&D Division’s reveal of a mobile app named DiDi Plate.

In summary, here’s how the app works:

  1. While in your car, you use your mobile phone to take a picture of the license plate of the car in front of you.
  2. After the plate is scanned, it gives you the ability to text the driver/owner of the vehicle.

Some potential uses that director of GM’s China R&D Division, John Du, shares are:

  1. “…a male driver uses Didi Plate to scan and then message a woman driving in front of him. He asks her for a date, which she quickly accepts.”
  2. “…a woman’s car is blocked in a parking lot, so she scans the plate of the car that boxed her in and tells the driver to move the vehicle.”
  3. and, for bonus points, you can “Message people to tell them they’re terrible drivers.”

He even explained that they have “adapted the app to work with Google Glass. Just stare at the plate and it scans it and brings up the persons online profile.”

There are so many fails about this app and potentials for abuse I could go on forever but let’s just cover the very basics here in the interest of brevity.

  • Some genius at General Motors created an app that you use WHILE DRIVING to TAKE PICTURES and then TEXT MESSAGE people. Seriously?
  • I’m sure every woman (or man) would completely welcome unsolicited text message propositions from complete strangers while driving around town. What happened to the old fashioned catcalls of yesteryear? You know the wolf whistles and “hey babe” that men yell to attractive women passing by. That worked fine, didn’t it? This is the digital equivalent of that. It’s like one of those dating services where all the attractive women get bombarded with messages from lonely men (or vice versa). So much for your cell phone battery life.
  • Now, instead of just flipping off the idiot who cut you off or screaming obscenities at them that they may or may not hear, you’ll be able to ensure that they understand exactly what you say by simply text messaging them. Maybe you can send a selfie of you flipping them off accompanied by some choice words. Of course, when you text message someone using this app it is a) obvious that you are in the vicinity and b) your phone number is displayed on their phone. Now all of those unstable drivers who cannot control their temper will have even more opportunity to participate in a little road rage. Anybody up for the Roadside Fight Club? (It’s OK as long as you don’t talk about it.)

This is the most boneheaded, stupidest, insane, irresponsible, crazy, dangerous (I have a lot more adjectives for this) app ever conceived by anyone much less an automotive manufacturer’s R&D division. Yeah, it’s only in China so that makes it OK, right? They have too many people anyways. Perhaps this is GM’s way of contributing to world overpopulation.

At least they gave it an appropriate name.. Didi. I don’t know what that means in China but all I can think of when I hear this in context of this app is Carlos Menica’s signature phrase:


With the Verizon iPhone Coming, Is It Time To Re-Think Mobile Marketing?

With today’s announcement of the iPhone coming to Verizon, you have to analyze the mobile market and wonder if it’s time to embrace mobile marketing (if you haven’t already).

The facts are that 85% (264 million) of the US population (307 million) has a cell phone.


Smartphones accounted for about 30% of all phones as of Oct. 2010 but that number is projected to overtake non-smartphones in 2011 per Nielsen. That would take the number of smartphone users to 132 million across all cell networks – almost 1/2 the population of the U.S.

Android and iPhone users account for about 1/2 the total number of smartphones in use but the iPhone accounts for 65% of AT&T smartphone subscribers. I’m expecting that the chances that the percentage of Verizon smartphone users who have an iPhone will approach, if not eclipse, the percentage that AT&T has. Assuming this holds true, the iPhone will end up accounting for 86 million smartphones with the Android comprising 30 million.

A large percentage of the US population will have, and be using, smartphones. According to Morgan Stanley, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage within 4 years (by 2014).

Getting the picture? This isn’t even accounting for web traffic originating via iPads, iPod Touches and Android-based tablets. It also doesn’t account for traffic generated through apps.

Bottom line is that you need to have a mobile website and/or make sure that you’re existing website is mobile-friendly, at the very least.

It’s time to seriously re-visit a mobile marketing strategy if you don’t have one. Don’t play catch-up later.

 Originally published on