IBM and Motorola Inc. are combining forces to deliver a wide array of Web-based and wireless infotainment services to vehicles.
The two companies are expected to announce an alliance this week. It will be aimed at providing services to automakers and suppliers that make communications and computing devices for cars and trucks. Those services will include news, entertainment and roadside assistance.
The alliance brings Motorola, a longtime automotive supplier and a leading wireless technology company, into partnership with IBM. The computer giant is moving aggressively to expand its electronic commerce business.
Under the deal, IBM would map out information technology architecture and handle the software interfaces to the wireless system that Motorola will use to deliver programming and other services to vehicles.
The goal is to put much of the computing power and data on land-based systems. That would reduce the need to install expensive and complicated computing devices in vehicles.
'The solution lives on the network,' said one person familiar with the strategy.
Because of safety concerns, IBM and Motorola are expected to use software that translates text-based information into computer-generated voice messages. That would allow drivers to focus on the road and reduce the need to fumble around for instrument panel dials and switches. An e-mail message, for example, could be downloaded into the car via a wireless connection and then be 'read' to the driver by the instrument panel receiver.
IBM and Motorola are not expected to announce customers for their new business until early 2001. The companies are targeting most automakers and key suppliers of advanced automotive electronics.
The announcement is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 13, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
John Couretas can be reached at [email protected] or at (313) 446-1638