Ford has purchased a 5-year-old software company for almost $10 million, part of its plan to boost its in-car connectivity and attract younger and richer customers.
The software company Livio will also help Ford promote as an industry standard its method of connecting smartphones with the car, a move which will speed up the pace of app development.
“With the acquisition, Livio now has the ability to advocate Ford’s contribution of SmartDevice Link as a standard,” Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technology officer, told reporters. “That, I think, is a big opportunity.”
Ford’s purchase of Livio comes ahead of a predicted boom in vehicles fitted with technology which allows them to connect to the drivers’ smartphones. The US automaker sees sales of such vehicles increasing to 21 million units by 2018, compared with 2 million units in 2012.
Ford will keep the software company’s name and its 11 employees. Livio will continue to operate as Ford’s wholly owned subsidiary and will report to the automaker’s electrical and electronics systems engineering division.
This deal is Ford’s first purchase of a technology company in more than a decade. In 2000 the US automaker created a joint venture with Qualcomm Inc called Wingcast which offers drivers the possibility to operate the vehicle’s radio or phone through voice commands. The venture was dissolved two years later.