DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has big plans for Livio, a developer of in-vehicle connectivity software that Ford bought last week for less than $10 million.
Ford wants Livio to help develop an industry standard for linking smartphones to the screens in vehicle instrument panels.
"Ford is acquiring Livio to advance connectivity for our customers and to lead the way in in-vehicle connectivity for the entire automotive industry," Bill Coughlin, CEO of Ford Global Technologies, which manages Ford's intellectual property, said in a statement.
Paul Mascarenas, the automaker's chief technical officer, said: "With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go."
Ford said the number of vehicles delivered with smartphone integration systems, including Ford's Sync AppLink, will number 21 million by 2018, up from 1.9 million in 2012.
Now, carmakers develop connectivity platforms separately. A common solution would enable developers to come up with applications faster and at a lower cost.
"It's about taking complexity out," Mascarenas said. "For us, standardizing in-vehicle connectivity really helps to ease the burden on content developers because they currently have to develop great applications using several different vehicle interfaces. A single standard lets them write software more efficiently." Acquiring Livio, he said, "is another step in taking complexity out. It's a great match."
Ford previously contributed its Smart Device Link, an open-source version of AppLink, to the Genivi Alliance, an industry group that is creating common software for infotainment systems.