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2010 Detroit Auto Show: From The Outside Looking In Page 4

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2010 Detroit Auto Show

2010 Detroit Auto Show

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4. Your car is now an iPhone with Corinthian leather seats

Nearly everything on the showroom floor in Detroit contains a set of gizmos to keep drivers and passengers connected to the larger world. In some cases, that just means a high-tech satnav, but sometimes it goes much further, as with Ford's updated Sync system. As Ford marketing VP Jim Farley said, "[W]hen you enter your car, it should be as cool as your iPhone."

As Farley elaborated, it became clear that Ford and presumably other companies may be changing their business model to build market share: "My point of view is that we create an open platform like iPhone and let the applications flow based on Sync. This seems odd, since you would think we want dollars, but we want the Sync community to grow and these applications are more creative than we can create." Whether or not Farley's dreams become reality, these high-tech devices -- which are still considered luxuries by some -- are rapidly becoming as standard as airbags and air conditioning.

That brings about a new set of concerns, of course -- namely, safety fears about added distractions. However, as I said last week, the cat is already out of the bag on in-car internet; it's now up to manufacturers and watchdog groups to use that technology to make driving safer, not more dangerous.

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