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Bluetooth Blues: Why Won't Your Phone And Car Play Nice? Page 3

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Ford's Sync interface and Kia's upcoming UVO system (also codeveloped with Microsoft) are currently the most advanced interfaces, as they're software-driven and very upgradeable. Boyadjis says that some of the other systems used in today's vehicles are still hardware based and will increasingly have compatibility issues moving forward because they're just more difficult to upgrade.

Don’t Upgrade; Get A New One

Most handsets do have the capability to be updated on the software side for enhanced Bluetooth functions, but handset makers aren't likely to offer the option. "Here it's a business decision, not a technology decision," Boyadjis says, adding that MAP could be quite easily reflashed to the Bluetooth chipset for either handsets or vehicles, but in vehicles it's a much more reasonable upgrade.

Indeed, Ford spokesman Alan Hall confirmed that the automaker is considering implementing a MAP software upgrade available on Sync going back to the 2008 model year.

Ford's Sync implementation of Microsoft's automotive platform provides several modes of connectivity

Ford's Sync implementation of Microsoft's automotive platform provides several modes of connectivity

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Although luxury makers have been installing Bluetooth for several years, it was Ford that really kick-started the market by offering its Sync interface on nearly all of its vehicles shortly after introducing the interface in 2007. Sync is now offered on all new Ford vehicles except the 2010 Ford Ranger pickup.

In calendar-year 2007, just 9.4 percent of vehicles had Bluetooth; for 2008, but mainly thanks to Sync, that jumped to 22 percent in 2008, then on to 42 percent for 2009. iSuppli anticipates a 51-percent installation rate in 2010 and a 78-percent rate in 2016.

Boyadjis can see the market "continuing to grow as solutions are deployed at the low end of the market." Simply put, Bluetooth will become standard on more vehicles, and when it's optional it will be at even lower cost.


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