Dearborn, Mich. - Ford will launch this October its previously announced venture with Best Buy to promote the car maker's popular Sync radios with voice activation.
Beginning in October, more than 30 Texas Best Buy locations will show consumers in clinics and demos how to use their mobile phones with the Sync. The Sync links with Bluetooth phones to allow traffic and weather updates and navigation with no service fees for three years.
The program is expected to expand to nationwide Best Buy locations in 2010, said Ford.
The alliance between the companies was first revealed at the 2009 International CES, but this is the first announcement of trial clinics to kick off the program.
Best Buy Mobile will act as a secondary venue, in addition to Ford dealers, where users can learn if their phone will work with the Sync, and Best Buy can help consumers upgrade to a compatible Bluetooth phone.
Ford also launched this month an advertising campaign for Sync, called "SYNC. Say the Word," to boost awareness of the voice-activated radio system. The print and online ads target "young, tech-savvy drivers," said Ford. These will be joined by 30-second video spots, and Ford will also make available 11 instructional videos on a new Web site.
Best Buy will also conduct ongoing research on which mobile phones are compatible with the Sync and list the phones in its monthly Mobile Buyer's Guide.
"We have a strong belief that mobile technology should serve people and help them stay connected whether it's at home, at work or in the car," said Best Buy Mobile president Shawn Score.
The new version of the Sync, developed with Microsoft, not only acts as a radio that links with iPods and cellphones by voice command, but it also delivers navigation and traffic information by voice. Information is read aloud to the user but no map display is provided. Users can also "ask" to hear local weather and sports scores using voice commands.
Traffic and other data are sent over the voice channel of the user's Bluetooth phone, so no data plan is required.