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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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Ford leads way in tech?
By Andrwken on 12/21/2009 10:47:48 PM , Rating: 1
Ok, my 2005 GMC Sierra had onstar, with voice acivated cellular, Sattelite GPS tracking (opinions differ on this being a good thing), the ability to unlock the car, turn by turn nav, crash detection, airbag deployment detection, and the ability to deploy an ambulance or police to your location if needed. It also came with XM radio and mp3 capability built in. Please explain to me how 5 years later (which is an eternity in tech speak) Ford comes out with a system built by Microsoft that marginally adds some features to the combination I have and does not offer some of the more significant features of On Star and yet we are groveling at their feet? They've been behind the 8-ball for 5 plus years, oh goodie for them. Catching up is now innovation? Some of these articles are getting really sad.




"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007














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