Paul had the difficult task of running around CES, scarfing up the newest in technology. Armed with his Flip camera, he's been shooting some video, and taking copious notes. Here's a blog post about Ford and its breakthrough SYNC system. You can follow Paul this week on Twitter @pauljacobsmedia.
Alright, I admit it. I'm from Detroit and that almost forces me to be a cheerleader for our domestic auto companies. But even the most rabid BMW or Toyota owner would have to be impressed by what Ford CEO Alan Mulally rolled out at yesterday's CES.
Beyond the list of simply really cool, functional technology that is in-sync (pardon the pun) with consumer tastes, what struck me was that this isn't my father's FoMoCo. Mulally defined it as "We now move at Silicon Valley speed."
Ford shouldn't be viewed as a car company again. They are a consumer electronics company that manufactures cars and trucks. Their additiction to and focus on "minimizing driver distraction" has produced a second generation SYNC that will be the envy of other car companies.
The new version is totally LCD (no more buttons) and it's great-looking. The four main functions - entertainment, phone, navigation, and climate - are all color coded, voice activated, and totally customizable. Drivers will no longer have to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road to be the masters of their entertainment and information driving domain.
They call this "MyFord Touch" (are they trying to align themselves with another popular "Touch" product?). Beyond the obvious benefits (calling your mother, listening to your mp3 music), one of the biggest breakthroughs is the ability to access mobile phone applications (like streaming radio stations) through the SYNC system.
Ford demonstrated how this works with their initial test partner - Pandora. You can watch a video here of a personal demonstration we recorded, but note that it's on the orginial SYNC system so you won't see the cool LCD dashboard. It will also give you a sense of how Pandora is strategically targeting the car - and therefore, terrestrial radio - a theme that we have written about extensively in this blog.
Low mileage is great. A well built car is even better. But a cool techonology system that's easy to work? Absolutely fabulous.
Congratulations, Ford. You are going to bring the American car business back not by building cars, but by creating a truly mobile entertainment system that will be the envy of the industry.
We will be the first in line at the North American International Auto Show here in Detroit in just a few days. And we'll continue to provide reports and persepctive about how the changing auto interior will have major league implications on how consumers entertain and inform themselves while on the road.
Back when we did "The Bedroom Project" in '07, the car was the one place where our younger respondents gravitated to broadcast radio. The rapid technological developments of just the past couple of years may alter that reality.