Microsoft is making big plays in the automotive communications and infotainment industry, positioning itself as the major player in a fast-growing field. In the current automotive climate, even economy cars like Ford’s Fiesta and the upcoming Chevrolet Sonic tout sophisticated in-car connectivity systems once reserved for top luxury marques.
Through strategic partnerships with Ford, Toyota and Kia among others, Microsoft has sunk big money into the industry. Unlike the personal computer hardware and software markets, automotive infotainment and connectivity systems are expected to have an extremely long shelf life. Consumers simply hang onto a car much longer than they would a personal PC, with the used car market ensuring these systems will be in use for many years to come.
Have a look at Microsoft’s major business partnerships in the automotive industry.
Ford’s SYNC system uses Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition software to handle everything from controlling the stereo to navigation and climate control systems. SYNC made its debut in 2007 on several Ford 2008 models, complete with heavy spending on television advertising. In the future, Ford promises the next-generation SYNC system will even offer aid in health monitoring for those with diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Toyota Friend Social Network
Toyota has just released details on its new Toyota Friend private social network specifically for owners of new Toyota hybrid and electric car models. The system uses Microsoft Windows cloud-based computing platforms to provide a rich user experience that connects owners with their cars, Toyota corporate, dealerships and even each other. Microsoft invested more than $4 million in the novel idea, sure to reap returns if Toyota’s innovative concept is successful. Other investments by the technology company in conjunction with Toyota concern next-gen telematics systems.
As Hyundai’s sister company Kia seeks to move its brand image up-market, infotainment and connectivity technologies are a huge key to success. Proudly using the “Powered by Microsoft” tagline, the marque’s new UVO platform offers integrated car electronic system controls using both voice and touchscreen technologies. Features include smartphone and media player integration and control of key car functions. By running on the Windows Embedded Automotive system, UVO has positioned itself to be upgradable as new features make their way to future “smart cars.”
Americans spend many hours per week in their cars, and by offering home PC and smartphone software solutions that play nice with new car models, Microsoft has ensured greater diversification and brand awareness, and the profits will soon follow.