Ford Launches Open Developer Program

Ford is the leader in the connected car front with a robust infotainment system called the Ford Sync program. Their mobile integration is the cornerstone of the platform with its very own app ecosystem engineered for the car. Leveraging voice controls, Ford AppLink currently has thirteen apps available in their portfolio but an announcement at CES signals huge growth in that space.

In an announcement this afternoon, Ford will be launching their Open Developer Program that will provide third party developers all the APIs and tools they need to begin creating apps for Ford’s platform in a similar manner to Android or iOS for mobile. Specifically, Ford is looking for news, navigation, productivity tools, and more while video and text heavy apps along with gaming will be prohibited (you do still need to drive). USA Today, AHA Radio and Rhapsody are some major players jumping onboard but expect some more niche apps to follow suit.

The connected car is one of the most promising frontiers for advertisers as robust media experiences travel with us in the car. There is clearly a demand for consumers as well with 65% of Ford customers saying AppLink was an important factor in their purchase. AppLink has rolled out to 1 million US cars in 2012 with another million planned for 2013 and an estimated 14 million in 2015.

Netgear Smart Home Devices, NeoMax TV And More

There were lots of announcements from Netgear earlier today at CES.  Most of these focused around the Smart Home, an area which should triple over the next couple of years.  Netgear  unveiled new home security cameras which are wireless and fit in the palm of your hand.  The Vue Zone and the Vue Phone Night Vision Camera transmits video wirelessly and will email you if there is unexpected motion in the house so you can see immediately what the camera is seeing.  They also released a new version of Plus2TV which allows easy streaming from your mobile devices to your television.  There are new dual band 11ac WiFi products allowing faster connectivity in a world of growing devices.

The Genie App allows the users to generate QR codes as a way to share home networking, printing and the like without sharing your password.

The NeoTV Max has a built in Sling Player so that accessing content from your Slingbox from other TV’s is a breeze, helping to, as they describe it, “turn your regular TV into a smart TV.”  Their new NeoTV Prime is a partnership with Google TV.  David Henry, Netgear’s VP Product Marketing, described it as “Google TV done right.” It combines Google TV and the ability to run apps from Google Play with enhanced support for home media and connected USBs.   You can cross platform search with a dual sided remote/qwerty keyboards and it predict and make recommendations for future viewing.

Samsung’s Smart TV Gets Serious

Most people who own a Samsung Smart TV don’t actually ever set it up. Maybe it is the lack of third party apps or clunky UI or perhaps mainstream consumers still want a passive viewing experience. Recent announcements from today’s Samsung press conference may just change that.

First of all, there is the hardware. Their newest flagship TV is the F 800 which maxes out at 75 inches. The LED-backlit LCD has a quad-core processor so it has fast performance unlike past smart TVs. Additionally, the UI (connected TVs biggest downfall to date) has a revamp with five panels that you can cycle through offering the various apps and other features.

From a marketing perspective, there are two major developments that are going to alter the TV viewing experience significantly. The first is S-Recommendation which delivers personalized recommendations pulling from Live TV, on-demand content and streaming services. Then there is T-Commerce which allows users to make purchases all through the connected TV experience. To demonstrate, a middle-aged Samsung Exec just purchased Jess’ outfit on Gossip Girl. These development could be monumental for product placements and other strategic partnerships as T-Commerce shortens the purchase funnel significantly.