Consumers demand the functionality, convenience, connectivity, and infotainment of their mobile phones, PDAs, navigation systems, and digital music players while on the go, especially in their cars. Hand held devices and functions now viewed as indispensable were not designed or engineered to be used while driving, and their in-vehicle use is rightly challenged by safety advocates and legislators. It's not always convenient to manipulate multiple devices while driving. Automakers responded with iPod, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity, but these provided only slightly enhanced functionality and often usability and compatibility problems of their own, without necessarily reducing the number of devices or device interfaces to deal with.
Microsoft Corporation's integrated hardware and software platform called Microsoft Auto provides automakers and infotainment suppliers a single revolutionary in-car alternative to the small screens and thumb operated user interfaces of today's array of hand-held devices upon which to build. First introduced in North America exclusively as Ford Sync, and in Europe as Fiat's Blue&Me, the Microsoft Auto platform integrates consumers' existing mobile devices and appliances into the vehicle environment relatively safely in a singlevoice-driven driver friendly interface.
Microsoft Auto also enhances development possibilities and shortens cycles for OEMs and suppliers. Microsoft's software and human factors engineering provides a reliable way to accelerate new, low cost infotainment and mobility services and tools - for instance, Ford's new pickup truck-based Work Solutions and Fiat's Eco-Drive. The Microsoft Auto open platform and its supply base is a major factor in bringing fast-paced consumer electronics developments into the automotive realm safely. In the process, OEMs may use the open architecture of Microsoft Auto to create unique or differentiating features and capabilities within the product development cycles of consumer electronics.
After Fiat's Blue&Me, Sync debuted in North America on the new Ford Focus as a $395 option on the basic car, included on the top model. Sync is now available on nearly every car Ford makes. Ford research showed that favorability towards Ford doubles when consumers are exposed to the functionality of Sync.
Microsoft Auto is being adopted for particularized use by Kia, Hyundai, BMW, and others.