Ford plans to give its infotainment platform free of cost

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jan 08, 2013

In a move that could set the ground rules in the in-vehicle infotainment domain, automaker Ford is reportedly giving away its Sync AppLink platform free of cost to other car makers and without any attachment.

According to a report in `Wired’ , Ford said that this move would help other automakers ‘ quickly and easily advance their infotainment systems, bring countless new developers into the automotive sector and provide consumers with more apps and options’.

Taking a cue from smartphone giants like Apple and Google, Ford hopes to capture the in-vehicle infotaintment space by the leveraging the success of its AppLink and Sync, so all automobiles will use the app to run.

“We want to create the highest-volume architecture in the industry,” Wired quoted Doug VanDagens, Ford’s director of connected services, “The ease with which [developers] can develop is important to them, and we believe we’re leading in tools and implementation.”

Automotive app developers find themselves in much the same position smartphone developers did a few years ago. Not long ago, Apple’s iOS was the top priority, Android was just coming to the fore and everyone else was an afterthought because it was simply too big a hassle to develop a product for every OS, reported the Wired.

The automotive app space is following a similar pattern. Every automaker features a different consumer-facing platform, so developers must work with a variety of APIs and SDKs. It’s annoying but doable for a massive outfit like Pandora, but almost impossible for small developers. That’s where AppLink comes in. By offering AppLink to any automaker or Tier 1 supplier ( hardware builders) and providing a universal API and SDK, Ford plans to expand its app’s footprint across the industry and bring more developers into its fold.

“It’s a bold move by Ford, which may lead to faster industry adoption of in-vehicle applications,” Wired quoted Thilo Koslowski, an auto industry analyst at Gartner, “But it also underlines the challenge for automakers to attract application developers. No developer can afford to do custom work for every automaker.”

The only hurdle could be that other auto companies have developed their own app platforms and may want to control their own ecosystems. The report quoted a A General Motors executive stating that adopting AppLink would be immensely risky because of the resulting loss of control.
The report said that many developers had evinced interest in AppLink and over 4,000 have registered for access, and that undoubtedly will climb as Ford’s pushes to make AppLink an industry standard. To that end, Ford is extending its API support, bringing multiple languages to market, and will even offer an emulator so coders can test apps without having to get an infotainment system – or an entire vehicle – from Ford.