In the eighties, only David Hasslehoff was able to talk to his car on the popular TV show Knight Rider. Now, on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford and Microsoft announced their latest joint innovation, 'Sync,' allowing regular Joes the ability to give their cars a range of voice activated commands. 'Sync' will allow drivers to make hands-free phone calls, listen to music via iPods and other digital media players such as Microsoft's Zune, and have cell phone text messages read aloud, all through the use of Microsoft-installed voice activation software. Without saying whether it planned to pitch the technology to other automakers, Microsoft feels its 'Sync' software could ultimately find a home in 600 million cars worldwide. Until now, Ford has lagged other major automakers in providing cutting edge software-based technology in its cars. According to Derrick Kuzak, a group VP at Ford, "Sync is what today's generation and today's drivers demand in connectivity." The company will offer Sync as a factory-installed feature on 12 of its 2008 models, meaning it will first be available in the Fall of 2007. The company ultimately plans to offer 'Sync' in all its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models in hopes it can return to profitability.
• Sources: Press Release, Autoblog/You Tube 'Sync' Video Presentation , New York Times, PC MagazineKnight Rider Forum
• Related commentary: Autoblog, Toyota Leads December Sales Growth, But Ford Holds On To #2, Ford Increases Financing Plan To $23 Billion,
• Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Ford (NYSE:F), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Competitors: Toyota (NYSE:TM), DaimlerChrysler (DCX), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY)
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