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Mobile World Congress Means Different Things for Ford & GM

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March 04, 2013

Mobile World Congress Means Different Things for Ford & GM

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

There's a lot of difference between Ford and GM. Just ask anyone who's driven one breed or another all their lives. But the recently-concluded experience that was Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) 2013 showed that there's one more crucial difference between the two firms: how they approach the concept of wireless.

It's not surprising that cars are getting progressively more into mobile. After all, on a certain level, cars are, in fact, mobile devices, so getting mobile connectivity established in what is itself a mobile device makes no small amount of sense. To that end, both companies are looking at getting the job done, but their approaches are rather different.

Ford, for instance, has been busy right out of the gate, focusing on a rapid development approach by turning over most of the online processing and the like to iPhones. This has allowed Ford to bring out several new products and services, like Spotify (News - Alert) for cars as well as a steady expansion of the Ford SYNC program. Better yet, since Ford released the API, it has brought in plenty of interested developers, and around 2,500 of them so far have agreed to work with Ford on developing apps for cars.

GM, meanwhile, has instead been focusing on making the car itself more of a mobile device, partnering with AT&T (News - Alert) to bring wireless connectivity to GM cars next year. While that's allowing Ford to take a substantial lead in terms of connectivity for most of the rest of the year, that's also going to give GM something of an advantage as its connectivity won't depend on having a smartphone. Additionally, there are a lot of possibilities that GM can undertake, like security features and in-car diagnostics, that Ford will be--at least at present--somewhat stymied by.

That's quite a bit to consider in and of itself, but it's not just cars that are gaining ground in the wireless field. Sports venues are increasingly offering wireless connectivity so that fans can live-tweet games and the like. While current offerings are spotty, and many places haven't caught up the way they should, the fact remains that it's at the very least on the to-do lists for a lot of different venues. Consider further the rise of the so-called "tweet seat" in music venues that allow for connectivity, and a bit of promotion by way of social media.

There are great opportunities to be had with wireless connectivity. Symphonies can use it to draw crowds with social media, sports arenas can use it to let fans keep better track of the action on the floor from anywhere in the stadium, and cars can use it to provide a whole new way for drivers to keep track of where they are and keep themselves entertained in the process. Wireless connectivity is becoming steadily more important, and those firms not prepared for such a change may well find themselves aced out of the market by those firms who are prepared.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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