Ford to Support Wi-Fi USB Mobile Broadband Modems in Vehicles
Where can't you connect to the Internet from these days? My friends post status updates from 30,000 feet flying over Topeka now. People text instead of call from their cars; sometimes posting photos of car accidents or real-time traffic updates while driving. Ford's announcement yesterday that it will support Wi-Fi USB mobile broadband modems in its next generation Sync-enabled cars comes at a time when the automotive industry needs a boost of "cool." Additionally, the industry finds itself lagging behind even the ailing airline industry in creating appeal with younger buyers from Internet and wireless technology innovation.
For several years, the North Exhibit halls at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has been dedicated to automotive technology. At one of last year's keynote addresses Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer and Ford's CEO, Alan Mulally touted the game changing innovations that the two companies had planned for the Microsoft-based Sync in-car system.
“We are a car company, but we are learning to act like an electronics company,” Mulally said. The Ford CEO will once again provide a keynote at this year's show, January 7th-10th in Las Vegas. The Consumer Electronics Association states on its site that the in-vehicle technologies category totaled $11.7 billion in 2009, with more than 24% of that attributable to portable and transportable (GPS) navigation products at $3.8 billion.
The Sync system is intended to leverage customers who already have a 3G data stick, most likely enterprise field employees and business travelers who were early adopters of the mobile broadband modems, as well as enable new customers to discover them while renting Ford cars from agencies that have fleet deals. Although the Sync system does not require a subscription, the USB modem typically requires activation of a mobile broadband account and data plan with a wireless carrier. Ford has been aggressively pushing technology and using social media in its marketing recently to appeal to younger, value conscious consumers and first time car buyers who are always connected.Continued on the next page