A new report by ABI Research predicts a coming automotive trend, and for once, an American manufacturer -- in this case, Ford -- is leading the pack.
With its SYNC product, Ford has partnered with Microsoft to bring a 21st century driver experience to the masses (you can view the appropriately flash-y Web site at syncmyride.com.)
ABI Research director Mike Ippoliti's take on the new tech:
"The Ford SYNC represents a major shift in OEMs' approach to the consumer electronics community. While some makes have merely supported certain media or devices, Ford's SYNC is intended to be a selling point, using voice recognition as a technology edge, and breaking the mold of premium-only availability."
Ippoliti believes other OEMs, especially in North America, will follow suit, and comments that North American shipments of portable media player integration kits will grow very quickly in the short term, due to mass-model commitments from Ford and GM.
The ABI Research study indicates that iPod integration kit shipments alone will more than double between 2008 and 2010. Global shipments should surpass 11 million vehicles annually by 2011, delivering a market value of over $314 million.
According to Ippoliti the SYNC is just one of four technological approaches for in-car infotainment:
Store content locally, meaning in-car hard disk drives or other memory devices;
Stream content into the vehicle, meaning broadcasting by satellite, RDS-TMC, and other techniques;
Pull content into the vehicle, meaning the acquisition of data as needed from the internet or other off-board storage/delivery services; or
Interface with a portable device - including Bluetooth and USB connection
Hmmm...an American automaker, ahead of the game with cool new technology? Hey, I could get used to this...