Ford has enjoyed a surprising level of success with its Sync hands-free technology, and wants to make sure it is not a one-hit wonder.
The company has formed a new business unit devoted entirely to “telematics” – in-car technology. The forty-person group is focused on developing affordable, easy-to-use systems that enable people to bring their increasingly high-tech lifestyles into their cars – or more specifically – their Fords.
In devoting increasingly scarce money and resources to this group, Ford is showing a great deal of faith in telematics as a key to selling cars in the future. The success of Sync lends some support to their faith. The new Ford Focus in particular has seen a rise in sales and attracted younger buyers thanks to the hip hands-free technology. The Microsoft software that powers Sync will soon become available to all automakers, giving Ford another reason to push harder to maintain a technology edge.
The Ford team, and in-car technology in general, still faces some major hurdles. There is no Bluetooth-like protocol for phones to send pictures and videos to in-car monitors. And of course, most new technologies cost a fortune, cutting against Ford’s goal of using them to boost sales across its lineup. The team said it is considering the inclusion of advertising in their new systems as a way to offset costs. The team has been together for only a month, but said it has already filed for more than a dozen patents. Ford has not ruled out selling whatever developments it comes up with to other automakers, but said its main goal is to have the latest technologies exclusively available in their vehicles.
Source: Detroit Free Press