Why Ford Is Like Google

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.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Apple and Ford are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended subscribers open a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy would let you drive its car if it had one.


Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (18)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2010, at 3:46 PM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    Ha! Good article. Now I have to see if I can perpetuate the chain. Maybe "Why Microsoft Is Like GM?" Hmm....

    John

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2010, at 3:55 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    John,

    >>"Why Microsoft Is Like GM?" Hmm....

    Ouch! Careful, there are a lot of Microsoft bulls in Fooldom. I'm even mildly bullish on Microsoft at its present valuation, and that's saying something after today's Windows Phone 7 intro.

    FWWIW,

    Tim

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2010, at 4:11 PM, plange01 wrote:

    f and goog alike?both companys are failing?whatever.....

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2010, at 7:47 PM, cdubonmf wrote:

    The problem with user tech in cars is that people keeps cars for more than a couple years. And the tech is quickly outdated...so as a result people end up driving around in cars with outdated technology. How many people had car phones still even after cell phones got big. How many people have fancy in dash GPS that costs a fortune to update even though the same technology is available on smartphones now... etc, etc.

    Ford is thinking ahead here but this will still always be an issue so I don't know if its going to benefit them that much.

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2010, at 7:36 AM, cbeluga wrote:

    motley fool - "to educate, amuse, and enrich." this falls under amuse...

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