Bad Bosch

I take back everything nice I said about the Bosch Drive. They did right things but they did wrong things too and the wrong trumps the right in my mind tonight.

With so much work to do ahead of us to realize the potential of computers why would anyone pay programmers to make computers do less? I'm looking at you Bosch. Why? Not for me.

My family bought me the fender and light kit that went with my new bike. Bosch designed a light on/off switch into their led controller. It makes no sense to buy a light other than one that goes with the bike.

My inventor type dealer was happy to install it but the installation didn't go well. After four trips to the dealer I took the bike home without light. Next day he calls promising one more trip to download a controller configuration to allow me to turn on my light.

Configuring the Bosch light switch requires the protected dealer software, cd-rom, and security dongle. I ask to watch. This doesn't go well either.

The USB to the controller works but it doesn't report connectivity to the motor or the battery. My dealer checks on "enable light switch" and tries download. No go.

He looks at me. I say, customer support. But they're in Germany. I say, we're a fraction of their size and we have 24x7 support. He calls. Tries twice to get the country code right. Answering machine says the'll be back to work January 5th.

So to add an electric light to an electric bike requires five trips across town over three days and no promise of completion for another week.

Having watched the dialogs flash across the dealer's screen I am convinced he was unable to establish his right to exercise any control over Bosch's on/off light switch. Where am I in this deal? I left my bike at the shop.

My anger is waining. The light works and is truly awesome for spotting patches of broken glass at night. The cd-rom that shipped to the dealer with the bike was not ever going to work. He reached someone at Bosch America who told him how to download the dealer service application that works. I got a four page report explaining how each of the three computers was now configured and what information it was tracking. Light Switch Status: Enabled.

(months pass)

My anger is returning. The light has always flickered when I parked my bike. Now that flickering has advanced to sudden dim or darkness on my daily commute. I reach down and wiggle wires. Light returns. The intermittent behavior is made repeatable while stationary by turning the front wheel right by 10 to 15 degrees. My assumption is that the difficult install has left the wiring damaged outside my reach.

(months pass)

Stefan Farber, VP of Engineering at Bosch, tells how the manufacturer of personal goods is dealing with the tensions in transitioning to becoming an Internet of Things software business. post

Ferber said that although the Internet of Things is an attractive proposition for Bosch from a revenues perspective – where ideally it would like to tie every Euro it makes on selling a product with an additional Euro made in services – the time and cost in creating this business shouldn’t be underestimated.