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Connected car announcements at Mobile World Congress

Spotify music service brought to Ford Sync platform

Swedish based music streaming service Spotify has announced that it has been working directly with Ford to deliver a safe, convenient, voice-activated in-car music solution

The personalised music service, where chosen tracks are played but not downloaded signals the long expect triumph of internet content delivering and death of the never profirtable staellit radio. 

According to a report in the Financial Times, European drivers of Ford vehicles fitted with its SYNC AppLink voice-activated technology - a hands-free bridge between to smartphone applications will soon allow access to Spotify's catalogue on the move via voice control.

The Daily Telegraph report, by contrast, suggests the service will first appear in the US, although this is less likely considering Spotify's launch in the US delayed for two years until July 2011.

According to Spotify itself, Ford SYNC AppLink is already available in over one million vehicles in the USA, and on which Spotify will roll out in the coming weeks. In Europe it will be featured in selected Ford vehicles by the end of this year.

Accordint to the FT report, the deal is the first collaboration with a carmaker for Spotify, and will be seen as a win for backers of the multi-platform subscription model given that carmakers have long provided integration with either Apple’s iTunes, Microsoft’s Windows Media or other proprietary systems.

The announcement came as competition continues to intensify in the music streaming industry, with Google in talks with music labels for its first foray into the market.

Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing content from a range of major and record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. 

Launched in October 2008 by Swedish startup Spotify AB, has about 20 million users, with about 5 million of them paying monthly either $4.99 or $9.99. For the online or App based service non-members can listen for free but are required to be played advertisements and are required to display the tracks listened to via Facebook. 


AT&T to provide 4G services in GM cars

Also announced yesterday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona AT&T, the US telecoms operator, will bring superfast mobile broadband to General Motor’s vehicles from mid-2014, in a partnership also seen as highlights the growing ubiquity of the mobile internet for vehicles.

GM said it is making a global commitment to embed 4G LTE technology in millions of vehicles across all its brands around the world, starting with Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac in the US and Canada next year, and other brands such as Opel/Vauxhall in Europe.

For AT&T, which will replace Verizon Wireless as the network service provider for GM’s 16-year-old OnStar subscription safety and security call service, the deal represents a significant contract win accodring to the FT. AT&T already has wireless deals with carmakers including Ford Motor and Nissan Motor, but the GM agreement is its biggest deal so far.


Only scratching the surface of what is possible when the automotive and wireless convergence

At a speech at the mobile Mobile World Congress yesterday, Steve Girsky, GM's Vice Chairman, Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Global Product Planning, and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, said that "we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible when the automotive and wireless worlds converge."

He announced that Siri, Apple’s digital intelligent assistant technology, as wall as currently in the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic in North America, will in the second quarter be in the new Opel ADAM, an urban lifestyle city car; to be demonstrated at the Geneva motor show next month.


Connected vehicles to speed vehicle innovation cycle

He added that GM intends to bring the customer’s digital life into the car, and bring the car into the customer’s digital life, requiring a new way of thinking in the automotive industry.

"We’re accustomed to three or four year development times, while the consumer electronics industry moves at 12-24 month cycles, and application development even faster. Well, technology will enable us to shorten those lead times - a lot - at least as far as mobile wireless technology is concerned."

"Customers will be able to continuously update it with upgraded systems, software and apps, without having to buy a whole new vehicle. Which makes sense, because when you buy a PC or a tablet, you’re continually upgrading and adding to it. You don’t have to purchase a whole new one. We’ll take the same approach with our vehicles" he said.

"Moving down this path of innovation starts with two key questions:  “What is possible to provide our customers?”  And, “What do we need to get there?”"

"As for what’s possible, well, when we think of the connected consumer in the connected car, the answer is almost anything. The potential for innovation exists in many areas…

  • Entertainment and communications customized for the vehicle, such as rear seat streaming video, for just one example.
  • Diagnostics and vehicle systems monitoring, including cameras that can transmit live images to you on demand, to show you what’s happening around your car while you’re away from it.
  • Safety… Many of you are currently working on the roll-out of eCall in Europe … Through OnStar, we have personally witnessed the potential to save lives through automatic crash response – the hallmark service behind eCall.
  • Navigation and location specific services
  • New Urban Mobility Solutions

"Near-term, built-in 4G LTE connectivity will enable things like mobile wi-fi hotspots, broader infotainment options, and more advanced OnStar service options. Longer-term, the higher bandwidth and responsiveness of 4G LTE, with speeds 10 times faster than 3G, will support a wide range of car-specific apps and functions, both those already in development and those we haven’t imagined yet."


Door left open for third party developers to 

In contrast to indications from other cars makers in the past, Steve Girsky opened the door for third party innovators to enhance the GM platform. "The developer community will play a huge role in helping us shape the future of the connected car.  Just last month at CES, we announced a new developers program and a new set of APIs to enable this community to work directly with our in-vehicle application platform to drive new innovation."

"To maximize the potential of the connected consumer in the connected car, we’ll need insights and collaboration from technology partners, content providers, infrastructure developers, utilities, city planners, regulators, and industries from hospitality to health care to home improvement, and everyone in between."

"And we’ll be doing things that haven’t been done before, and some that haven’t been imagined yet."


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