Cloud computing has been promoted by tech vendors as today's hottest emerging trend. Toyota's partnership with Microsoft on the software giant's Azure cloud platform demonstrates that companies outside the tech sector are getting on board. Stuart Johnston reports.
The heads of Toyota and Microsoft announced Wednesday that they are pooling a billion yen -- roughly $12 million -- to invest in using the software giant's Windows Azure cloud computing platform to provide information to the car maker's next generation electric and pluggable hybrid vehicles.
The target date for the first fruits of the collaboration showing up on showroom floors in the U.S. and Japan is sometime in 2012. However, the development is not directly related to the in-car technologies that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) already provides to Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), for one, as Microsoft Sync.
Instead, whereas Sync provides a selection of features, from control of the entertainment system to GPS directions, provided within the car, Microsoft characterizes the use of Windows Azure as a platform move -- something beyond its existing deals with other auto makers.
The two companies webcast the news of the deal from Microsoft's Redmond, Wash. campus, and featured Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE: TM).
Toyota's goal is to establish a complete global cloud platform by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services to Toyota automotive customers around the world, Toyoda said in the webcast.
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