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Bluetooth Blues: Why Won't Your Phone And Car Play Nice? Page 2

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As Ford announced in the keynote address last month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Los Vegas, the automaker has recently expanded its Sync hands-free interface to support the new Bluetooth Message Access Profile (MAP) standard. RIM, the maker of Blackberry devices, has also announced that it will adopt MAP in more of the company's handsets later this year, said Ford Connectivity Group chief Doug Van Dagens, as part of the address.

What does that mean? With fingers crossed, it's a step in the right direction, toward greater standardization and compatibility, as Ford is definitely in the lead right now with Bluetooth installation. But according to an expert on the matter, it's probably not the end of the delicate back-and-forth dance between automakers that bet on long-term compatibility, and handset-makers that are interested in selling new handsets with new, must-have technology as often as possible.

Why Features Fail

Ford and Microsoft now in Sync

Ford and Microsoft now in Sync

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"No matter how robust the system is, there are just too many devices out there to say that any single one is 100-percent compatible," said Mark Boyadjis, an analyst and in-vehicle Bluetooth specialist for the market-intelligence firm iSuppli. Boyadjis says that above anything else, including reputation, "the handset makers are just trying to sell phones."

About 99 percent of handsets now have the so-called Object Exchange Protocol (OEP), which does allow handsets to share information beyond phone calls, but the way to access that information can vary from brand to brand or model to model, so automakers haven't been so thrilled to commit to it. Those issues should be solved with the adoption of MAP, which not only standardizes the transmission protocol but how the messages and information are packaged.

Boyadjis says that a lot of it simply depends on what the chipmakers decided to include with Bluetooth years ago; early on last decade, companies envisioned audio streaming as something that consumers and handset companies would want, so they wrapped the A2DP streaming capability into most handsets—driving vehicle systems to include compatibility for it earlier than they otherwise would have.


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