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Ford's new version of SYNC will bring detailed interface with apps, such as geographic apps, location finders, social networking apps (Twitter, Facebook), and streaming internet radio (Pandora).  (Source: Fabric of Folly)
Ford continues to lead the way in mainstream automotive tech offerings

For a time General Motors led the auto industry with its OnStar service, which offered hands-free calling, turn-by-turn directions, and remote diagnostics.  Then in 2008, Ford rained on GM's parade, launching SYNC, powered by the Microsoft Auto operating system.  SYNC today puts OnStar, its closest competitor, to shame with improvements like traffic alerts, voice-activated music, audible text messages, and information services (offering sports, weather, news, and more).

The rise of SYNC closely mirrored Ford's own advances on GM's marketshare -- and indeed helped to drive some of these gains (Ford still trailed GM's sales by 3 million vehicles in 2008).  Mark Boyadjis of iSuppli Corp comments, "Fords used to be a pretty basic, plain-Jane car. Even the Lincolns were little more than leather and some sound-deadening. Now, their cars are literally at the top of the space when it comes to technology. It has helped Ford gain market share from General Motors and Chrysler."

Ford's run of SYNC exclusivity appears to be about to end in the U.S., though.  Overseas, Italy's Fiat SpA was the first automaker worldwide to introduce the Microsoft-driven system.  Now that Fiat owns part of Chrysler, it is working with Microsoft on plans to deploy SYNC to the upcoming Chrysler/Fiat lineup.  The Fiat 500, which will debut in the U.S. next year, will likely carry the system.  And South Korea's Hyundai Kia Automotive Group has been working since 2008 on plans to bring SYNC to its vehicles, though it still hasn't announced a specific launch window.

Mr. Boyadjis doubts that these competitors' variants of SYNC will prove a significant challenge to Ford's advanced system, though.  He explains, "Ford has taken over a lot of this and created its own ecosystem. It will be more competitive, but I don't think it will overshadow the success that Sync has had.  Every year, they're announcing features that are not only groundbreaking, but easily upgradeable.  They're doing a lot of this without our direct engineering involvement.  We're enabling them to create their own unique applications and provide them to their customers."

Ford is headlining CES and will be unveiling their new version of SYNC at the show.  Reportedly, the updated SYNC's biggest improvement will be its new ability to interface with apps on a variety of smart phones (presumably the iPhone, Android, RIM, Windows Mobile Phones -- and perhaps others). 

Why is that significant?  That means that Ford will likely be the first automaker to be getting real time voice-delivered social network updates from Twitter and Facebook.  And also it will likely be the first to get streaming music from apps like Pandora.  Location apps like the iPhone's restaurant finder apps and their ilk will also be optimal fodder for the new system.  Ford will publish a "mobile applications" API to allow app writers to easily adapt their apps for the system.

And what's truly exciting is that these bleeding edge features won't just be available on luxury models -- they should be available across most of Ford's lineup.  Most of the new technology is proprietary upgrades to the base SYNC software developed at Ford.  That means that even as competitors try to get basic SYNC systems of their own out the door, Ford will likely once again reinvent how consumers interact with technology in their car and on the go.



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By sapiens74 on 12/18/2009 5:21:01 PM , Rating: 2
seriously.....




By Beenthere on 12/18/2009 7:55:43 PM , Rating: 1
Chrysler does make some good cars, trucks and the best mini-van by most accounts. Their Jeep line is decent too. Now all of that will go down the tube as they put Mopar name plates on Fiats. That's a guaranteed death march IMO and U.S. tax payers get to pay for it all.


By rudolphna on 12/19/2009 9:57:48 AM , Rating: 2
Chrysler makes some good cars. The Challenger, 300C, Charger, RAM, Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Cherokee to name a few.


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