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
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
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
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.