Ford Sync clears the four million mark, aims to double that within three years

Ford's Sync in-car connectivity system enjoyed quite a prosperous little 2011. Last January, installations of the service topped the three million mark. Now, almost exactly a year later, Sync has come to a full four million vehicles, and it's looking to expand its reach even further. Ford announced the milestone at CES yesterday, projecting that the voice-activated, Microsoft-powered software will clear the nine million hurdle by as early as 2015. It may sound like a bold prediction, but considering that Sync is slated to roll out to markets in Asia and Europe this year, it certainly seems realistic. For more details and back-patting, check out the full PR after the break.

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Ford Delivers 4 Millionth SYNC In-Car Connectivity System; 9 Million More Expected by 2015

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Ford SYNC®, the voice-activated in-car connectivity system introduced in 2007, now is installed in more than 4 million Ford Motor Company vehicles

With plans to begin offering SYNC in Europe and Asia this year, Ford projects 9 million additional vehicles will be equipped with SYNC by 2015

Powered by the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive platform, SYNC has created the "upgradeable car," allowing new features and improvements to be seamlessly integrated on a pace with consumer trends and preferences

SYNC is now available on 100 percent of Ford's 2012 retail product lineup in North America; all-new Ford Fusion and Flex are launching with SYNC as standard equipment – setting a trend for a hands-free, voice-activated future

Just one year after eclipsing the 3 million mark, Ford has sold the 4 millionth vehicle equipped with SYNC®, the industry-leading in-car connectivity system powered by Microsoft.
Launching globally this year, Ford SYNC powered by Microsoft is forecasted to reach 9 million new customers around the world in the next three years.

"SYNC has been a transformational technology not only for Ford, but for the industry," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president for Global Product Development. "SYNC has been integral to keeping pace with the consumer, delivering value through a constant flow of new features that keep them connected to their digital lives in a safer, simpler and smarter way while driving."

SYNC has evolved quickly since first introduced in late 2007 and grown to provide customers even more value, with no additional cost.

Soon after launch, Ford added SYNC 911 Assist™, which connects drivers directly with 911 operators after an accident. It is the only in-car, non-subscription call-for-help system.
Ford's SYNC Services launched in 2009, providing voice-activated access to a cloud-based network of information including traffic, news, sports, weather, horoscopes, stock quotes and movie listings along with business searches and turn-by-turn directions.

In 2010 Ford added SYNC® AppLink™ – allowing smartphone-equipped customers access to a growing number of popular apps using voice control such as Pandora internet radio and Stitcher.

Operator Assist, introduced in 2011 and available through SYNC Services, gives users access to live help with business searches and turn-by-turn directions.

The upgradeable car

Ford's open platform approach to mobile device connectivity has helped SYNC stand out in the industry, allowing for continuous improvement of the user experience and the addition of new features.

"Listening to customers and monitoring consumer trends has helped make SYNC a 'must-have' technology," said Kuzak. "We will continuously improve SYNC based on customer feedback with the availability of software updates and upgrades."

Ford internal research has found that customers who bought 2011 models of Ford vehicles treat SYNC as a must-have technology and purchase the system 82 percent of the time. Also, more than 80 percent of SYNC users said they are likely to recommend the system to others.
And using information collected in customer clinics, Ford engineers have been able to pinpoint opportunities for improvement and are acting on it with plans to soon launch a significant software upgrade for existing owners of SYNC with MyFord Touch®.

"SYNC has allowed us to create the upgradeable car," said Kuzak. "With the SYNC platform inside the car, offering our owners updates will be very similar to what they experience with their smartphones and laptops."

During the customer clinics held after the initial release of MyFord Touch, customers said they wanted the system to be faster and easier to use with simpler graphics. Ford engineers listened, resulting in a major upgrade to MyFord Touch that will roll out in a few months as 2013 model year vehicles are introduced.

Engineers and developers from Ford and Microsoft often collaborate on upgrades and other projects related to the performance of SYNC to ensure functionality with the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive platform.

"Ford and Microsoft are driven by a common vision to give consumers the ability to combine their digital lifestyle with their life on the road," said Windows Embedded General Manager Kevin Dallas. "Windows Embedded Automotive enables Ford more flexibility and extensibility to innovate, speed up the product refresh cycle, and evolve SYNC to keep up with the fast pace of the consumer electronics industry."

The upgrade will appear first on the all-new Ford Escape, and 2013 Flex and Taurus models. Current owners of 2011-12 models of Ford Explorer, Edge, Lincoln MKX and the 2012 Ford Focus will be mailed a USB memory stick equipped with the software upgrade at no charge.
In addition to faster touch-screen response time, the software upgrade will include the following enhancements:

Improved voice recognition experience powered by Nuance
Tablet device compatibility audiobook support
Connected navigation powered by TeleNav featuring new map data by NAVTEQ
Improved phone compatibility
Gracenote album cover art database featuring the latest music metadata available