By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Microsoft, which offers the technology behind the Ford Sync, said it will bring its voice-activated and car computer technology to Huyndai-Kia with Sync-like products to be offered by 2010.
The first Microsoft/Hyundai-Kia product will provide voice-controlled connectivity between mobile devices and will, in the future, expand into multimedia and navigation products, said Microsoft.
"The next-generation infotainment systems are comparable to mini PCs," said Microsoft in a press statement. "Even after product launch, new functions can be added or upgraded in the form of software program updates," it added.
Microsoft's exclusive deal with Ford ends in November, at which time it is free to license software to any car company without exclusivity.
Hyundai is considered one of the fastest-growing car suppliers and ranked within the top 10 global brands. Commenting on the deal, principal analyst Phil Magney of TRG, Minnetonka, Minn., said, "It's safe to say that Microsoft is out to conquer the world of automotive."
In terms of the deal's impact on the aftermarket, Magney noted, "It will only indirectly affect the aftermarket because it further stimulates demand for in-vehicle technology. There's over 100 million cars on the road that don't have this technology in them and people want this stuff — hands-free, voice recognition and the ability to interface portable media players are some of the most sought-after features people want in their cars."
Microsoft was not available for further comment.
Ford has sold 105,000 cars with its voice-controlled Sync audio system since October and is expected to sell 1 million by spring 2009.
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