Ford (NYSE: F ) expert and fellow Fool John Rosevear has argued that the automaker resembles Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) in the way its SYNC in-car technology is being built to accept new apps.
I think he's only partially right. Ford hasn't built its own iTunes equivalent. Nor does it work with only one type of handset, or own the tech on which SYNC is based. Instead, the automaker appears to want to support as many smartphones as possible, which makes the company more like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) than Apple.
Baiting the hook
Ford allows developers to code for SYNC's programming interface using what's called a software development kit (SDK). Apps are first designed for one of the major smartphone operating systems, and then imbued with SYNC's voice-activation capabilities.
We've already seen some developers use the SDK to create infotainment apps for SYNC. Pandora is one. Twitter is another, through an app called OpenBeak. Now, Computerworld reports, Ford is distributing its SDK to more coders in an effort to increase the amount of usable SYNC software.
Openness is key. Ford wants apps for every major smartphone, custom-tailored for voice-activated use. So far, only Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry App World and the Android Market can host SYNC-ready apps. Support for the iPhone App Store and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Windows Phone Marketplace is forthcoming, Computerworld reports.
Getting all four stores up and ready would be a coup for Ford, but also an important step for the smartphone sellers. Right now, these devices are still aimed at high-end consumers. Making them as much a driving companion as Sirius XM Radio's stereos or Garmin's global positioning systems could accelerate growth in this white-hot market.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you want your smartphone controlling your car's infotainment experience? Share your thoughts in the comments box below, and if you're interested in Ford, click here to add it to your Foolish watchlist.