Clueless Ford to drop Microsoft vehicle tech for beleaguered BlackBerry

“Ford Motor Co., struggling with in-car technology flaws, will base the next-generation Sync system on BlackBerry Ltd.’s QNX and no longer use Microsoft Corp.’s Windows, according to people briefed on the matter,” Craig Trudell and Jeff Green report for Bloomberg. “Using QNX will be less expensive than licensing Microsoft technology and will improve the flexibility and speed of the next Sync system, the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public, said Feb. 22. Ford has more than 7 million vehicles on the road with Sync using Microsoft voice-activated software to make mobile-phone calls and play music.”

“The switch may help Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, address customer complaints about malfunctioning technology systems and touch screens that have hurt it in surveys by J.D. Power & Associates and Consumer Reports,” Trudell and Green report. “For BlackBerry, it’s a vote of support for a company that lost 95 percent of its value from mid-2008 to November and saw the collapse of a proposed $4.7 billion buyout.”

“Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford has said the quality of its vehicles has been ‘mixed’ each of the past three years and fell short of its plan to improve those results in 2013. Ford and Lincoln ranked Nos. 26 and 27 out of 28 brands in Consumer Reports’ annual auto-reliability survey released in October,” Trudell and Green report. “The switch would be a significant blow to Microsoft’s automotive software business because Ford is by far its biggest customer, said Thilo Koslowski, auto analyst for researcher Gartner Inc.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In related news, Oldsmobile today announced plans to drop Palm-based vehicle systems for technology from Commodore.

Clueless Ford remains an island of crap surrounded by an iOS ocean. (That simple statement should be written on every whiteboard in Ford’s HQ until their execs’ heads finally pop out of their asses, if that is even possible with them so deeply wedged.)

iOS users want their devices to work seamlessly with their vehicles. iOS users have disposable income and the proven will to spend it. Smart vehicle makers court iOS users.

Obviously, Ford remains highly confused. You want A-P-P-L-E, dummies! You want A-P-P-L-E, because the people with M-O-N-E-Y want A-P-P-L-E, morons. Not Microsoft. Not QNX. Not anything else.

A-P-P-L-E = M-O-N-E-Y, fools. Henry Ford on a popsicle stick!

So far the list of smart manufacturers who are exploring or have deployed iOS in the Car and/or Siri Eyes Free includes:
• Acura
• Audi
• BMW
• Buick
• Chevrolet
• Chrysler
• Ferrari
• Ford
• General Motors
• Holden
• Honda
• Hyundai
• Infiniti
• Jaguar
• Kia
• Land Rover
• Mercedes-Benz
• Nissan
• Opel (Vauxhall)
• Toyota
• Volvo

Related articles:
ABI Research: Apple’s ‘iOS in the Car’ to be No. 1 in-vehicle system by 2018 – November 1, 2013
General Motors adds Apple’s Siri Eyes Free to more vehicles following ‘remarkable’ customer response – October 16, 2013
Hidden contacts revealed within Apple’s iOS in the Car – August 8, 2013
Automakers integrate Apple’s iOS in the Car to minimize driver distraction, increase customer satisfaction – July 30, 2013
Why Apple is planning aggressive 2014 launch for ‘iOS in the Car’ – July 26, 2013
Why Tim Cook described Apple’s iOS in the Car strategy as ‘very important’ – July 25, 2013
Apple has its eyes on automakers with ‘iOS in the Car’ – July 5, 2013
Ford plummets to 27th in J.D. Power vehicle quality rankings on Microsoft-developed ‘MyFord Touch’ woes – June 20, 2012

60 Comments

    1. So many companies have looked at it, but no company has put it in all their cars. Honda has Siri in just 2 models, the civic has it, surely the most likely honda model for droid owners. Their Acura brand has it in two of their cheapest models, again droid land. And Siri has to be dealer installed, not from the factory. Lexus includes Siri but you are hard pressed to find that info on Acura.com. Cadillac and Chevy are the only makers touting it in ads and online. I walked out of the Tesla showroom when they told me Android was on their beautiful 18″ screen. Ford looked at Apple, went with MS, now dumping that for another disaster. A shame how stupid these car companies are.

      1. Siri Eyes Free is in a number of different vehicles, and to be clear, it is not the entire embedded user interface software. It works on top of the systems used by GM, Honda, Toyota and the like. I’m an automotive writer and I’ve used it in a Malibu and it works okay. The road noise makes Siri less accurate, just like any voice recognition system (and Malibu is an exceptionally quiet car for a mid-priced sedan).

        It’s posts like this that make me take MacDailyNews with a big grain of salt. QNX software is respected, in a lot of different vehicles, and works quite well. Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes, Audi, BMW and others use QNX in various ways. Apple is not a player in the automotive world the way QNX, Microsoft, Pioneer, Delphi, Bosch, and even Google are at the moment. That could certainly change.

        I love my iPhone and create on a Mac. I’m not too crazy about Sync or MyFordTouch, but a small amount of research would inform editors at MDN that QNX is hardly bush league. Funny how a couple posts down is a story about Samsung paying bloggers for favorable stories. Apple doesn’t need to pay when editors of websites like this act like giddy fan boys.

        1. Any thoughts on iOS in the Car, which apparently is more capable than Siri Eyes Free? Is that comparable to what QNX does? I wonder if Ford ever looked into it seriously, or maybe their Microsoft relationship kept them too distant from entertaining thoughts of Apple in their cars.

          1. I haven’t had a chance to look at iOS in the Car and have to believe few people have. It’s another reason why MDNs take on this is so juvenile. The tech isn’t even available to use yet. And, if you’re a huge company like Ford, are you going to put your faith in first generation tech that hasn’t been proven from a company that hasn’t done cars before? They could afford it when Sync was new, it was the only game in town, and a bit of a novelty that didn’t have to work flawlessly. Now everyone has a UI and it’s critical that it work really well.

            Yes, Apple is Apple and we all expect them to get into automotive tech in a major and appealing way. But the auto application is much like the rumored TV and iWatch. They aren’t really in the business now, are they?

      1. I thought so too, but a deeper read into this provides some reasons. QNX was already being used for this before Blackberry bought the company. Automakers like BMW already use QNX, and QNX already has better integration with iOS devices than does the current SYNC. I wish Ford had gone with iOS in the car, but I’m just really glad that they dumped the crappy MS software. I rented a Ford Explorer a couple of months ago and tried using SYNC. Worthless junk, and a real black eye on an otherwise nice vehicle.

  1. The real issue is the time that auto manufacturers implement this stuff, it is already obsolete. They need a firmware upgradable system, so you don’t need a new car every 2 years to take advantage of new tech. Oh wait, then they wouldn’t sell as many cars. My bad.

    1. Excellent comment. One of the things I love about the iPhone is that the software is kept up to date. The best part is upgrading the OS and getting new functionality. It makes products last a bit longer and encourages you to stick with the same vendor for your next device.
      It would be great if a car display could be updated in the same way. Upgrades to the OS can provide enhanced capabilities without needing a hardware upgrade to the car. It certainly would make you feel you have got a better deal and improve the chance of sticking with the same manufacturer next time you buy a car.

    2. I think the whole point of iOS 7, and iOS in general, is so it can be updated easily.

      Apple could simply have an app on your iPhone to update your in-car system. For those without an iPhone, an iTunes like output to an usb drive could easily be done.

    3. Sync is updateable. I own a 2008 Focus, with Sync, and it can be upgraded via a USB thumbdrive. There have been, however, some major updates that require taking the car to the dealer. And, of course, this is not free.

      Sync in my car has always been great. It’s the simpler version, without the buggy touchscreen.

      1. I have the simpler SYNC system as well without the buggy touchscreen or nav system on my 2013 Fusion. It works well ****most**** of the time but it’s not without its flaws either.

  2. No one buys a new car to get a new infotainment system. It may affect your choice in cars, though.

    I believe QNX (or it’s predecessor before BB bought it) was primarily an auto OS. The real question is how well can BB make the system work and continue to update and upgrade it. Seems an odd choice, but perhaps Ford had little option because it died not appear that Appke’s iOS in the Car is ready yet.

    1. My choice in a new car (which I will be buying soon) is more influenced by the tech inside than the car itself. Transportation is transportation. Ford has now taken itself out of the running with an unnecessary side trip to a future flop and lower sales. I mean why risk killing sales with the most blatantly wrong tech choice? Once free of Microsoft POS junk why would there be any other choice than Apple? Major dunces are running Ford and don’t appreciate how important the tech choice has become in addition to the car itself. People won’t come running for a beleaguered Blackberry equipped car.

        1. I actually work on nuclear reactors (research, not power). Our latest console software uses Linux (for control) and Windows (for the user interface) but previous versions used QNX just fine. Your concerns about safety are unfounded. Because of NRC regulations, it is *very difficult* to create a software system that manages the safety-related components of a nuclear reactor (even one like research reactors where the possibility of meltdown is zero). Software is used to report various system parameters to users and allow various bits of control on the reactor, but the safety-related aspects (e.g., SCRAMming the reactor) are all analog and out of the control of the software.

          As for QNX, it’s a *very* fine embedded real-time OS. We would have stuck with QNX if we could have gotten device drivers for the boards we were using in the new system.

        2. I think 3 Mile Island was more of a mechanical failure. QNX would have reported the failure without having to halt other processes to do it. It would work well for a Nuclear Reactor because it was real time.

    2. QNX is a “real time” OS. Not interrupt drive used for instrumentation, device control, etc where you wouldn’t want the OS to halt a process to take care of another process.

      I sold PC’s with QNX for a while before Blackberry bought them and a lot of scientist, etc would configure systems and use QNX for the OS.

      If you were monitoring earthquakes or volcanoes or anything that you needed a lot of inputs and didn’t want to lose data, for example, QNX was the way to go.

  3. I bought a car earlier this year- looked at Ford and as soon I realized “sync” was by Microsoft, I politely thanked the salesman and left the show room.

    It is one thing to have to reboot your computer, it is quite another thing to have a system failure while driving. I do not need to experience “the blue screen of death” in 3D.

    I’m not fooling about this: I will not ever own a motor vehicle that has microsoft software as an integral part of it. NOT ever.

    I had an after-market Pioneer Navigation system based on Microsoft Mobile 5. The Navigation system worked pretty well, but the user interface was down right dangerous to use while the car was moving. Dangerous.

      1. the navigation system in my current system displays car system information, it is most certainly integral to the car’s operation.

        I don’t know specifically about different Ford models in relation to integration with the car’s operation but Ford’s website shows miles per gallon display on the sync screen implying at least some integration. That’s still too much for me.

        Perhaps I’ll be the one “LOL”ing down at you one day if you fail to do due diligence on your next car purchase after the computer in your car crashes causing you to do the same.

        In addition: “If it were to crash, your car wouldn’t just stop running.” That’s NOT the only issue, what if, for example, while the sync system was crashing it made a very loud, unexpected sound distracting the driver and causing a crash.

    1. I had a nav system powered by Windows CE. It could get me close to my destination, but right when things got critical it would almost always crash, and the reboot and reacquire process was between 15 minutes and half an hour.

  4. “…7 million vehicles on the road with Sync using Microsoft voice-activated software to make mobile-phone calls and play music.”

    Make voice activated phone calls and play music and Microsoft can’t even get that right!

    Will their be a ‘faux’ funeral for MS Sync?!

    That said, what money will Ford have saved if BlackBerry declines to the point of non-existence? Save a dollar now Ford and have no one answer the phones to assist with QNX… Bet Ford still has a corporate travel account with PeopleExpress…

  5. Ford, Ford, oh that’s a car company. So they still make cars in the US. I wonder if there are any good ones I mean ones that are actually bought out of the terrorist zone. Free worlders care to comment?

    1. Ford makes damn good vehicles. Their new F-150 pick up is about 1000 lbs lighter and it drives away on 8 cylinders and cruises on only 4 cylinders. The MPG is mind boggling.

      Too bad about that trademarked Microsoft Trash mounted in the dashboard.

  6. I would much rather see them commit wholeheartedly to iOS in the car but as of yet that isn’t available. This is a move in the right direction. Hopefully they aren’t locked in for too long. and Ford can switch over to iOS once the product matures.

  7. Actually that would increase reliability and quality with that change because QNX is a hell of a lot more reliable than Windows (or anything else) coming from Microsoft!

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