Now more than ever, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is laden with car companies demonstrating what’s to come for in-car tech. Of the brands at the show, Ford seems to have its head above the crowd.
The company is taking a bold step by offering the system underpinning its Sync AppLink to any automaker or Tier 1 supplier who’ll have it — for no charge. Ford hopes that by doing so, it can dominate the burgeoning vehicle infotainment market.
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“We want to create the highest-volume architecture in the industry,” Doug VanDagens, Ford’s director of connected services, said to Wired. “The ease at which [developers] can develop is important to them, and we believe we’re leading in tools and implementation.”
Going about that isn’t without its snags. Ford could easily stand to attract droves of developers who can’t afford to build apps for each automaker’s platform, but the whole concept hinges on convincing competing car makers to get on board. While some brands might welcome the idea of having a widely-accepted software platform available for free, it raises big questions.
“Will we get the latest updates or will we have to wait until Ford is willing to share?” said an a GM executive who Wired kept anonymous.
Not only that, but automakers will also likely have misgivings about allowing Ford-sourced software so close to systems that govern vehicle diagnostics.
Still, Ford already has over 4,000 developer registrations counted for access to the system, and that number is likely to keep growing because it could serve to offer the best market penetration per development dollar spent. Ford is also already beefing up its application programming interface support with multiple languages and an emulator so it isn’t necessary to have an infotainment system to build apps.
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