Salvador Carlucci will be motorcycling the Pan-American Highway from California to Argentina "to study the state of health care in Latin America." Hopefully he'll be a student and observer rather than a crash induced healthcare participant.
AdAge reports that BMW Motorcycles has " ... selected Concept Farm, New York, as its new agency of record for its estimated $2 million motorcycle account." On-line marketing of expensive low volume motorcycles makes a lot of sense.
"The brand plans to boost its online presence, because word-of-mouth among riders is more effective and more efficient than advertising, he [Laurence Kuykendall, the marketing communications manager at BMW Motorrad USA] said. 'Not that we are anti-advertising,'"
BMW has long had a strong on-line presence and its good that they recognize its success and plan to expand.
The AdAge story includes a picture of the soon to be discontinued BMW F650 motorcycle.
BMW Motorrad knows that excellent marketing is key to holding its spot at the top of the motorcycle market and earning high margins on its relatively low volume products. Their web presence has always been deep, broad, artful, informative and current. And they just made it better.
For six new models, BMW Films has created engaging videos designed to convince the viewer that its time to write a check never mind that there's no money in the account.
While the Japanese compete head to head with largely indistinguishable sport models; while the cruiser crowd hangs leather, chrome and billet on their trophy bikes; while manufacturers compete with specials and sales in big box showrooms with hundreds of bikes, BMW turns away from the crowd. In the video A journey through Norway, the R 1200 RT is presented as (artfully, not directly) the antithesis of a Harley Davidson -- a first rate freedom machine for the thinking man. And woman.
Unfortunately, the videos are displayed in postage stamp sized windows that would work well on a cell phone but look tiny on a standard monitor and silly on the large LCD display that someone who can afford a new BMW motorcycle is likely to use. But even small, they're worth watching. Several times. Someday bandwidth will be cheap enough that BMW will send us some full sized movies. Soon I hope.
Operating electronic equipment while driving a car is dangerous. Doing it while driving a motorcycle is suicidal. But that doesn't make a GPS any less useful to a biker -- it just makes it less likely you'll get back home without passing through the ER.
The military has attacked the problem head on using helmet mounted Head Up Displays like the one pictured here. They have the money for this type of thing. Several years ago I played with a preproduction unit which was tiny, had an amazing display and an astronomical price -- $10,000US. It could display a full computer screen of data without getting in the way of normal vision. BMW announced a helmet mounted HUD for Ralph Schumacher's F1 efforts in 2002 which likely carried a very F1 development cost and hasn't been heard of since.
Sportview has a $350US limited function helmet mounted display (pdf) for speed, rpm, gear and radar detector alerts which is a move in the right direction but is a long way from duplicating what is displayed on a handheld GPS.
Engadget reports that eMagin is introducing a $600US EyeBud for the video iPod. Tiny, cheap and full motion video. This is the technology and price that could put a GPS HUD on every long distance biker's helmet. eMagin is involved in both military and consumer markets with products that "create a virtual image that appears comparable to that of a computer monitor or a large-screen television." I hope there is a helmet mounted product on their radar screen.
Speed has installed helmet cams on several motocross drivers this year. While the bikes pound furiously through rhythm sections and monster jumps, the images sent to the screen are remarkably steady. Human muscles (linear actuators) and skeleton (frame) combine with the accelerometers and visual feedback of the central nervous system to isolate the camera from the jolts and bangs of dirt track racing. Amazing video.