Ford Motor Company (F) Bets On This

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The popular MyFord Touch “infotainment” system is now available in nearly all Fords, including the big Super Duty pickups. Photo credit: Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F).

It’s easy to see this trend coming: Cars of the future are going to be much more interconnected than they are now.

It’s also easy to see this coming: The demand for in-car data connections will likely boom once automakers show us more of the possibilities.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)‘s plan to jump on these trends involves tethering, improving the ways in which your car links to and interacts with your smartphone. It will build on the company’s MyFord Touch system, which is already popular with customers – and profitable for Ford.

That seems to make a lot of sense. But is it really the best way for Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) to be going?

GM is making a much more elaborate move
I raise this question because Ford archrival General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is unfolding a very different approach to this challenge.

Before joining GM’s board in the wake of the company’s 2009 bailout, CEO Dan Akerson had spent much of his career in the telecom industry. Naturally, when he later took the automaker’s top job, GM’s future plans for in-car wireless connectivity were very much at the forefront of his mind.

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) already has some in-car connectivity with its OnStar service, which provides safety services and navigational help to owners who choose to subscribe.

But that’s just a 2G connection. What Akerson envisions is apparently much, much more extensive. Lately, we’ve been seeing some signs of what that vision looks like.

One way or another, in-car data is about to get very big
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) announced back in February that starting with model year 2015, vehicles equipped with OnStar capability (which is most of the cars and trucks General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) sells, at least in the U.S.) would come with embedded 4G LTE connectivity.

In the U.S. and Canada, the connections will be delivered via AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T); GM expects to announce providers in other parts of the world later this year.

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) hasn’t said exactly what they plan to do with this vastly increased bandwidth. But Akerson has dropped some hints, suggesting vastly increased in-car entertainment options – as well as, possibly, in-car advertising.

Akerson clearly sees this as a major revenue opportunity for GM. If he’s right – and remember, he has extensive experience in this area – is Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) setting itself up to miss out?

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