These days, everyone seems to have an app store - Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), various carriers. And we're likely to hear about the beginnings of one today from Ford (F). No, the automobile company isn't looking to sell apps for cell phones. Instead, according to what I'm hearing, it's going to open the programming interface for Ford Sync to third party applications.
Engadget had some indications of this back in December when it saw demonstrations of car apps by university students who wrote iPhone apps that could play Internet-streaming radio over a Ford auto stereo system. (As a source of mine quipped, "It would be university students who thought of a car as an accessory to an iPhone.")
Supposedly today is the day when Ford CEO Alan Mulally announces that the company is opening the API to Sync and, either now or sometime soon, creating an app store for its auto lines. I'd expect a controlled outlet that makes Apple's look like an open bazaar. When you're dealing with an automobile, keeping control over what companies can touch and change becomes a big safety issue.
The official name for the platform is myFord Touch, "which marries voice recognition, graphic screens and touch controls on the steering wheel, to models across its product line." Built on Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Embedded Auto platform, it will try to replicate the control look and feel of consumer electronics devices. There will be a couple of USB ports, an SD slot, RCA jacks, and with Internet connectivity through a USB modem, it can become a WiFi hotspot.
Figure that some of the immediate app areas will be in music and entertainment, navigation, and telecommunications. In fact, Pandora is plugged in, which fits with the direction the company has been taking, and explains some discussions as the SF Music Tech Summit.
Image via stock.xchng user khaane, site standard license.