Microsoft and Toyota form strategic partnership on next-generation telematics; first roll-out on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012
|Schema of the Windows Azure cloud computing platform. Source: Microsoft, David Chappell. Click to enlarge.|
Microsoft Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. have formed a strategic partnership and plan to build a global platform for TMC’s next-generation telematics services using the Windows Azure cloud computing—i.e., Internet-based—platform.
As part of the partnership, the two companies plan to participate in a 1 billion yen (approximately $12 million) investment in Toyota Media Service Co., a TMC subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers. The two companies aim to help develop and deploy telematics applications on the Windows Azure platform, which includes Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure, starting with TMC’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012.
Part of the larger Windows Azure platform, Windows Azure is a platform for running Windows applications and storing data in the cloud. SQL Azure Database is a cloud database service from Microsoft. Windows Azure has three main parts: the Compute service, the Storage service, and the Fabric—a common way to manage and monitor applications that use this cloud platform.
TMC’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.
As part of its smart-grid activities, TMC is conducting trials in Japan of its Toyota Smart Center pilot program, which plans to link people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption. TMC believes that, as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will rely more on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management.
Microsoft has a history of delivering platforms and services to the automotive market, including in-car infotainment systems built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, in-car mapping services with Bing and the Microsoft Tellme voice application, and many other consumer solutions.
Today’s announcement of our partnership with TMC is a great example of how we continue to invest in the automotive industry and of our commitment to power the services that are important to consumers. It further validates the power of the cloud, as the Windows Azure platform will provide the enterprise-grade, scalable platform that TMC needs to deliver telematics in its automobiles worldwide.—Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer