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Ford Ready to Un-Friend Microsoft

Maker reportedly ready to switch to BlackBerry for its Sync system.

by on Feb.24, 2014

Ford's latest Sync update expanded the capabilities of the system but failed to completely resolve ongoing consumer complaints.

Ford has good reason to take claim for kick-starting today’s automotive infotainment revolution.  Its Sync system was the first to really put the technology in the eye of the American consumer, ushering in an era where motorists can access everything from music apps like Pandora to social media such as Facebook while driving.

But while Sync initially led millions of potential buyers to consider Ford products, an assortment of problems with Sync and the related MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch interfaces has resulted in countless others steering clear of the maker – Ford watching its quality scores slumping as a result of those issues.

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So there’s probably little surprise that the automaker is about ready to un-friend Microsoft, the Seattle-based software giant that supplies the underlying technology behind Sync – and which has gotten much of the blame for glitzing screens, slow responses and balky touch interfaces. Instead, the Detroit maker is expected to shift to the QNX operating system developed by BlackBerry Ltd.

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Ford Produces 10 Millionth Sync-Equipped Vehicle

Technology draws in new buyers – but also creates headaches for Detroit maker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Ford's latest Sync update permits th maker to draw a number of smartphone apps into the vehicle, including the Pandora music service.

Depending upon your point of view about in-car technology, the announcement from Ford could be seen as good news or bad news – or perhaps a little bit of both.

The maker this month produced its 10 millionth vehicle equipped with the Sync infotainment system.  That’s just six years after Ford first rolled out the technology developed in cooperation with tech giant Microsoft.

“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers.”

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Since its introduction, Sync has fostered some major changes in the auto industry and there’s not a brand to be found today that isn’t offering at least a basic in-car infotainment system. But while Ford claims Sync – and the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems – have drawn plenty of young, tech-savvy buyers into the brand’s showrooms, the technology has also created plenty of headaches for owners and for Ford which has seen its quality ratings tumble, in large parts due to problems with its infotainment systems.

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Ford Forwarding Fix for MyFordTouch System

Technology problems led to sharp slump in quality ranking.

by on Nov.07, 2011

The new fixes should make the MyFordTouch system faster and easier to use.

A quarter-million U.S. motorists will be getting an envelope in the mail from Ford Motor Co. early next year.  Inside they’ll find a small flash drive that the maker says will fix problems owners have been reporting with vehicles equipped with the MrFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems.

Ford has been one of the most aggressive makers in the industry when it comes to rolling out the latest in-car technologies.  It’s helped draw in customers who might have otherwise steered away from the domestic brand – but flaws with the latest MyTouch systems have also resulted in serious customer frustration which, in turn, has hammered Ford’s quality rankings.

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Ford plunged from 10th to 20th place in the latest Consumer Reports Reliability Index, while also taking a tumble in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey..

The fix?  A free software upgrade.

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Slammed By Quality Concerns, Ford Struggles to Fix MyTouch

Maker committed to staying on the bleeding edge of technology, says CEO Mulally.

by on Jul.27, 2011

A Touch of the devil? Problems with the MyFordTouch system hurt the maker's overall quality score.

Though complaints about the infotainment system hammered Ford’s standing in the much-watched J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, the Detroit maker isn’t giving up on its “MyTouch Ford” connectivity system but is working on ways to make it more user-friendly, CEO Alan Mulally says.

Ford, which was the top-ranked mainstream brand in the 2010 IQS slipped to a below-average ranking in the 2011 study, Power analysts saying that complaints about MyFordTouch were the primary reason.  But the infotainment technology has taken other hits from such influential sources as Consumer Reports magazine, which pulled several Ford and Lincoln models using the system off its recommended buy list.

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Mulally said Ford is taking criticism of the system to heart and is working on series of changes. “We believe now that it didn’t have enough computational power,” Mulally told analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call.

That translates into slow and sometimes inaccurate operation. The fix recommended by Ford’s trouble shooters is being applied right across the line and should help answer the customer complaints, claimed Mulally.

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Ford Sync Adds Live Operators

Maker taking on GM’s OnStar with new Operator Assist service.

by on Jul.12, 2011

Among the many new features Ford is looking at for its Sync system, it is beta testing a live human link called Operator Assist.

When introducing its Sync infotainment system, several years ago, Ford Motor Co. boasted that after the initial cost for hardware, Sync was free to use.  But that’s about to change for those who choose to subscribe to the expanded Operator Assist service, which will directly challenge General Motors’ popular OnStar system.

The Operator Assist system is designed to make it easier for motorists to locate an address and then plug it into the Sync system without having to navigate onscreen menus or learn the necessary voice commands.  The new service, now undergoing beta tests with current Sync users, could also help soften criticism Ford has recently taken over the complexity of its latest in-car electronics, notably the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch systems.

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“Ford is committed to continuously improving the ownership experience and delivering the level of connectivity that customers want,” said Doug VanDagens, director, Ford Connected Services Solutions Organization. “By leveraging what’s available in the cloud, we continue to innovate and improve our customers’ experience without having to touch the vehicle or inconvenience the owner.”

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What Went Wrong With Ford Quality?

Maker boosts sales but takes a hit with “bleeding edge” technology.

by on Jun.24, 2011

A Touch of the devil? Problems with the MyFordTouch system hurt the maker's overall quality score.

Ford Motor Co. wants to function “more like a consumer electronics company,” CEO Alan Mulally has repeatedly stressed, something the maker is backing up with an array of in-car technologies that notably include the popular Sync infotainment system and the latest iteration, MyFordTouch.

The focus on what some call “bleeding edge” technology has paid off in many ways. Mulally, for one, has repeatedly keynoted the Consumer Electronic Show three times, an honor more traditionally granted the likes of a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. And Ford suggests that Sync has been a major factor in the buying decision for many customers, especially younger motorists who expect to be connected 24/7.

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But there’s a downside, as the maker was reminded this week.  Ford was pummeled in the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, a closely-followed measure of out-the-factory-door quality.  (Click Here for the full report on IQS.) Just a year ago, the maker shot to 5th place, topping rivals like Honda and Toyota to become the highest-ranked mainstream brand.  But this year, Ford plunged to 23rd, behind not only the major Japanese brands but long-time quality laggards like Chrysler and its Ram truck brand.

“Ford dropped notably last year,” said Dave Sargent, the head of global research for Power, the California-based market research firm, adding that, “If it weren’t for MyFordTouch, we wouldn’t be talking about Ford.”

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