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  • Commercial viability of Carputers?

    Commercial viability of Carputers?

    So here is a question Iím just dying to know the answer to: What will the market bear for pre-assembled car PCís?

    The reason I ask is because I am building what I consider to be the perfect MP3CAR device. Bear in mind that it is not perfect for everyone, but it suits my needs perfectly.

    Basically, it is a
    Mini-ITX Mobo, (Eden 800)
    Sproggy 2.7
    ATX shutdown
    Slot load DVD
    Datalux LMV-10RB (touchscreen)
    256K memory
    ~5 gig hard drive
    FM transmitter

    Truth be told, I am only about 50% finished. I have the case 90% done, with the screen installed. I have not yet wired all the electronic bits in yet.

    But here is the kicker: The system I have designed needs only be hooked up to 2 wires, +12V and Ground. Other than that, it is completely modular and can fit in any jeep Wrangler. (Iíll post pictures tonight, donít have em here at work) It is built out of sheet aluminum and fits between the roll bar and the windshield, between the two front seats, tucked up against the roof. It is 8.2 inches wide, 4 inches high and 32 inches long. The screen flips down in front of the passenger, sort of like an oversized visor. I think it is a pretty good design. I think actual hard parts costs will total about $600, and about 20 hours labor. (I donít think I could get as good a deal on one of these monitors againÖ)

    It seems to me that the major problem with Car-PCs is that what works in, say, an integra, would not work in a civic. I think however, that Jeeps are sort of different. Jeep owners seem to be very interested in doing lots of modifications to there cars, and have a pretty loyal following (not to say that others donít of course). It is a pretty tight knit community, which helps the commercial viability of Jeep products for several reasons. 1. It is easier to spread new product news by word of mouth, and 2. It is easy to contact early adopters. (think Jamborees and on-line discussion groups)

    It seems that someplace I saw complete systems offered for sale at around $4000-$5000. I think I could make 10 of these, with a good profit for myself were I to sell them at $2000-$2500. I know that price wouldnít fly on this board where people can just do it themselves, but think about your average Jeep owner. Most people canít build one on their own because they lack the time, mechanical skill, and computer knowledge, and this is something where the finished product is defiantly worth more than the sum of its parts. I couldnít really offer a warranty or support, as I would basically just be making these out of my garage, but what are your thoughts? Has anyone tried this at all? Iím not really seriously considering this, but I am interested in any discussion that this might generate. Anyone here tried making carputers and selling them? By the way, Iím gonna call mine the JeePC, so donít steal my idea!!!

  • #2
    Re: Commercial viability of Carputers?

    Originally posted by wompser
    What will the market bear for pre-assembled car PCís?
    There's a good market, but unless you offer more than MP3 playing and/or a price below $1k, you're going to get stomped out by the larger stereo makers. I talked to a VC about doing this a few weeks ago after showing him my player. He liked my interface better than the one that came in his Mercedes. So there might be a large segment that would like to replace their stock GPS systems for a more feature rich product. If the price is below $1k, then you will also catch most of the middle class population.


    But here is the kicker: The system I have designed needs only be hooked up to 2 wires, +12V and Ground.
    Amazing. Do you have wireless speakers?


    It is 8.2 inches wide, 4 inches high and 32 inches long...$600

    You can buy a Capuccino/G1/EZGO which will fit entirely in the DIN slot for the same price.


    It seems to me that the major problem with Car-PCs is that what works in, say, an integra, would not work in a civic.

    Nope. If you can build a system that fits entirely in a double din slot and has a pretty LCD (the Redant, for example) which features GPS, Radio, MP3, etc. and a pretty interface for <$1k (very possible), you'd steal the market.


    I think I could make 10 of these, with a good profit for myself were I to sell them at $2000-$2500.
    Good God, I hope it does more than play MP3s for that price. Commercial MP3 players, like the Rio are only $1500.


    Anyone here tried making carputers and selling them?
    Empeg which was bought by some company which I forget the name. There was one called Impy3 (stole my name, you bastards! too which floundered. I think just about everyone here has considered doing this for a living.

    By the way, Iím gonna call mine the JeePC, so donít steal my idea!!!
    Mmmkay.
    Don't Click

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    • #3
      256K memory
      You may want to consider upgrading that.. you know.. just so the computer can boot and all. *evil grin*

      Comment


      • #4
        I think most of the people here have been propsitioned to build a similar system for friends/buddies/relatives/etc when they've showed off their systems. Hell, I had a guy at a radio shack as me what it would cost to do his car like mine when he found out what all my part buying was from. The problem comes in, as its been discussed time and time again, is tech support, and reliability. I don't want someone thinging they own me because I installed a carpc system for them, and they want to add this, or that, or change this, or why doesnt that work. I have to resist killing people at work, where i get paid money for supporting them upaid tech support would cause me to shoot them . Also, i certainly can't speak for others, but my system is far from bullet proof, its balky in cold weather, some times it doesnt boot, other times my indicator lights dont work (loose connection, I need to get out my sodering iron), and so on and so forth. If you can make a bullet proof product that will work for anyone (or any jeep owner as it would be), and tell them that its 100% as is, as there's an interest in it, go for it.
        -Nick

        _____________________________
        Since when is insanity a bad thing?
        www.mp3vw.com

        Comment


        • #5
          i think is a viable option but just in one area. That area is if you own like an car audio shop or something. It be very hard and expensive to mass produce something like this for different cars and such.
          '98 Explorer Sport
          http://mp3car.zcentric.com (down atm)
          AMD 800mhz 192megs RAM 60gig hard drive 9 inch widescreen VGA
          80% done

          Comment


          • #6
            So here are a few pictures of what I was talking about....

            You have to use your imagination a little, its not done, and this camera sucks! Of course, if you are on this board, you are used to using you imagination!

            Good points by everyone above, BTW. I agree about the Double DIN option. I suppose that is almost universal. I have not really seen much around that will cram everything I want/need into that space, but you are right, that is the holy grail for us I suppose.

            What does everyone think, is $1000 the magic number? I couldn't sell mine for that I dont' think. I wonder if anyone has put together a decent computer that they could sell for that amount, if so, I don't really think I've seen it.

            Amazing. Do you have wireless speakers?
            Ummm... OK I see your point, what I meant was that I will put in a FM transmitter to go to the existing stereo...

            and

            Good God, I hope it does more than play MP3s for that price. Commercial MP3 players, like the Rio are only $1500.
            Yeah, it'll do DVD's and GPS, etc too. Like I said, this (forum) is not the market for this kind of thing, pre built at least...



            So I guess This does not look like a good idea large scale, I wonder what the market would be for 10-50 units.... I don't know, I'm doing this for fun, nothing else, I just thought I would get some opinions...

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            • #7
              hmmmmm... pictures not working....

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by wompser
                I have not really seen much around that will cram everything I want/need into that space, but you are right, that is the holy grail for us I suppose.
                EZGO. It's comes in black now! neato. There's also the wafer, epia, PC104, and a number of others that will fit snuggly in a single din sized slot.


                What does everyone think, is $1000 the magic number?
                Don't sell the DVD/GPS/MP3/coffee making/blow job super machine for $1k, just a basic version which only does MP3. They can upgrade and add whatever features they want. You just need to make it so that they can't do it themselves. Otherwise, you'll just have another I-Opener on your hands.

                So I guess This does not look like a good idea large scale
                Nobody said that. Michael Dell built computers out of his garage before becoming the richest sonama***** in Texas and living on his own mountain. Make out a business plan, figure out how much it'd cost to get started by contacting manufacturer's for parts (don't go to retailers), then talk to a few VC's or a bank and see if you can get it started.
                Don't Click

                Comment


                • #9
                  Like MP3DUB said, the reliablity will kill you.... if u really want to do this seriously you will need to make a custom PC just for the task, not just taking a Pentium mobo/etc and selling it off...

                  I dont think its viable using the types of hardware most of us use. Most of the guys here myself included have got a big head at sometime when they showed off the system and a friend said "hey thats a cool idea, why dont u sell em?" and suddenly dreams of mountains of dollar bills appear in your head........

                  ... but then one week later when your ripping out your 'perfect' carPC system cause the BIOS battery went flat, or the sound card popped out/etc you realize that unless the buyer has a good knowledge of computers then this venture path I am going down is gonna be a tech support nightmare!

                  your statement saying your beleive you have built the 'perfect' system is the wrong tact too..... im sure microsoft feels they have built the 'perfect' operating system since 3.11, but they still keep at it dont they? also no car stereo nut who is serious about their music and has a car filled with $2000+ Focal/Boston Acoustics/etc speakers and subs will accept FM modulator sound transmission..... myself included.

                  then you have a parts list problem... for one Mr. Sproggy (I dont know his real name) wouldnt be too happy if your making money off a system with his power supply design as a core component. Most of the work and effort put into these systems/comments on this forum/etc are to help each other out and to achive.... not to make a quick buck.

                  then u have the problem of competition and consumer support. The Empeg/Rio system tried and failed (yes its a nice system, but still it never reached the masses in a big way) probably cause your average Joe Blow is still using CD's and doesnt have the time/effort wanting to learn about all this MP3/DivX stuff just to entertain himself/herself in their car... And Kenwood already have a system called the "Keg" and I am sure many other companies already established in the car audio market place are busy doing the same. Car MP3-CD players have taken off.... why? cause the major players started the trend, they didnt invent the idea, hell I had my P90 playing tunes in my first car (1973 LJ Torana) a good five years ago now.

                  Once the big guys get their act together, the general consumer will pick their product offerings 9 times out of 10 over a new startup....

                  not to come down hard on you.... but others had the idea before of making some $$$$$'s and havent succeeded and honestly if someone checks out mp3car.com and is commited enough and "really" wants a system of that level they will take the time, effort and reserach to make it happen.

                  In my time here posting on this forum I have seen the total newbie with their first post saying "I really like this idea, where do I start?" then 4-6months later they are posting with "Hey system done, check out the pics" and thats great too from the hobby and creation side of things..... and really why I got started with this crazy thang in the first place...


                  ... rant out
                  Project - GAME OVER :(

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by magnetik
                    ...and honestly if someone checks out mp3car.com and is commited enough and "really" wants a system of that level they will take the time, effort and reserach to make it happen.
                    Sure, and if someone is really committed and "really" wants a TV, they could build on themselves. Does that mean they will? What about shirts, jeans, lunchboxes, clocks, cars? If you have a shiny new product which is reasonably priced, a majority of the people interested are going to buy from you or your competition as opposed to building their own.
                    Don't Click

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This has been covered several times before, so a search will bring up my comments. However, two words:

                      "tech support"

                      'Nuff said.
                      Player: Pentium 166MMX, Amptron 598LMR MB w/onboard Sound, Video, LAN, 10.2 Gig Fujitsu Laptop HD, Arise 865 DC-DC Converter, Lexan Case, Custom Software w/Voice Interface, MS Access Based Playlists
                      Car: 1986 Mazda RX-7 Turbo (highly modded), 1978 RX-7 Beater (Dead, parting out), 2001 Honda Insight
                      "If one more body-kitted, cut-spring-lowered, farty-exhausted Civic revs on me at an intersection, I swear I'm going to get out of my car and cram their ridiculous double-decker aluminium wing firmly up their rump."

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                      • #12
                        Someone at my office suggested the same thing to me and I didn't want to mess with the support issue either. The thing I thought of was just selling some parts. I thought about finding a local company who cuols stamp and bend thin metal and see what it would cost to sell my cases (fits standard flexATX MB with low profile PCI slots). I figured if I could get them in the $50-$75 range they might sell.

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