Ford Turns to Microsoft for Building Car-Connected Services

Ford Motor Co is turning to Microsoft, one of its early technology partners for getting assistance for expanding its car-connected services. The automaker is planning to offer numerous features this year through its Social Delivery Network and one of them includes the ability of automatically updating its new Snyc 3 infotainment system wirelessly. The Azure platform of Microsoft, which is cloud-based, will be used for running the service. The company will be able to use its own cloud-based service for gathering more data about how car owners make use of their vehicles, according to the executive director of connected vehicle and services at Ford, Don Butler.

Butler said that the data will be of use to the automaker as they will be able to learn about the user experience within the vehicle and they will only use the information with the permission of customers. He added that the vehicle data acquired by Ford wirelessly through the cloud could prove to be useful for diagnosing any mechanical issues and for alerting dealers and owners about scheduled maintenance. Insurers could also be provided with information about the driving habits of the owners and the usage of the vehicle.

Two years ago, Ford made the shift from Microsoft to BlackBerry for helping it in developing the software for Sync 3. This was primarily because the earlier versions of MyFord Touch and Sync that were jointly developed with the software giant were overrun by technical glitches and the consumer complaints were also numerous. Last December, Ford unveiled the Sync 3 system and will start appearing on some of the company’s 2016 models. Apart from that, the cloud network of the automaker will allow the company to integrate a wider array of mobile services both within and away from the vehicle as per Mr. Butler.

He said that the definition of mobility has expanded considerably because those days are gone when most of the revenue of the manufacturers came from the lease or sale of vehicles. Now, the business model is revolving rapidly and also encompasses other services such as pay-per-use rentals and car sharing. He said that they would also be a source of revenues because new ways may be invented by third-party developers for leveraging the data and creating new opportunities for delivering services to vehicle users. Butler didn’t say if Ford was also developing the same communication/concierge service as General Motors.

However, he did add that the automaker’s partnership with Microsoft again could give it the ability of offering a huge set of connectivity-related services. Ford isn’t the first car maker to use the Azure Platform. Toyota Motor and Microsoft announced a partnership four years ago based on cloud-related services around Azure. Also, in 2013, a similar deal was made by Microsoft with Qoros, which is a subsidiary of Chery Automobile Co of China. It is yet to be seen if this deal between Microsoft and Ford will last and if any major improvements will be made in the new models of the automaker.