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Is Tesla doing to cars what Amazon did to servers?

A couple of weeks ago, Tesla unveiled a set of new features for its cars. If you walk towards the car, it senses your presence (by identifying your phone or watch) and opens the doors for you. It has more space to stow your luggage under the seats. The snake charger can plug itself into the car and start charging it without the car owner needing to walk around and plug it in.

These are all seemingly fancy features that we can clearly do without. These are features that we may not necessarily pay a premium for. So, what makes these features so important to the future of road transport? To the future of cars?

We all know the story behind the birth of Amazon Web Services. Amazon had a huge number of servers that were needed to serve it's peak computing demands, but would sit idle 90% of the time. They saw this and decided to rent this idle computing power at hourly rates to startups and small companies who found it more economical and easier to rent servers from Amazon than buy and maintain their own servers. This gave birth to Infrastructure as a Service and Amazon Web Services is now a giant inside Amazon contributing a sizable portion to it's revenues. Today, several big companies run completely on Amazon Web Services.

A lot of people in the world own cars. And like Amazon's servers of old, all these cars sit idle in parking lots and garages for more than 90% of their time. And people have to spend time and resources maintaing these cars, getting them serviced, ensuring they have fuel. A lot like how people used to run their server infrastructure before Amazon Web Services.

Google has already shown driver-less cars are possible and practical. Combine that with the features that Tesla recently unveiled and you are left in little doubt about where Tesla is headed. Cars that can navigate on their own, drive themselves, charge themselves when they are low on battery, open and close doors for you, and leave you enough space under the seat for your luggage.

Such cars, like Amazon's servers of today, don't have to sit idle for even a minute. And we can pay only to commute and not to own the cars. Like Amazon Web Services' pay-per-use compute power. Multi-tenancy is very possible as well, as you don't have to organise car-pools. The car will do it for you.

Tesla is set to do it the traditional car manufacturers what Amazon did to server manufacturers. Will they see this coming, in time? Even if they do, what can they do about it?

If you have any money lying around, go buy Tesla stock!

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