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Ford acquires software startup Livio to advance smartphone-based in-car connectivity

Ford has acquired startup connectivity application developer Livio for about $10 million. Livio—which started with Livio Radio—currently offers software development products including Livio Connect API, Livio Connect SDK, hardware emulators, reference code, libraries for iOS, Android and Blackberry, an authentication server, testing tools and a firmware update transfer feature.

Livio, co-founded by Jake Sigal and Massimo Baldini, will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Global Technologies, which manages all aspects of intellectual property for Ford. Livio will function as a separate department within Ford Electrical/Electronic Systems Engineering, while integrated into Ford’s overall connectivity operations.

Ford customers have opted for SYNC and MyFord Touch on nearly 80% of 2013 Ford vehicles.

The deal gives Ford access to a broad group of application developers, while enabling Livio to maintain its independent and entrepreneurial approach. Ford intends its purchase of Livio to accelerate innovation by providing access to each other’s talented engineers and unique intellectual property, as well as enabling both companies to work toward developing an industry standard for smartphone-to-vehicle communications.

A single vehicle interface standard gives developers the opportunity to write software faster and more efficiently, providing customers the apps they want to use more quickly. Livio software already is compatible with several commonly used apps and works with all major smartphone devices.

With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go.

—Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation

Last year, more than 1.9 million vehicles were delivered with smartphone integration solutions, such as Ford SYNC AppLink. That number is expected to reach 21 million vehicles by 2018, according to a June report from London-based GSMA, which represents the global mobile industry, and data from SBD, a London automotive technology consulting firm.

At Livio, our philosophy is centered on bringing customers more connectivity with less hassle. We believe this partnership is an excellent match, as it will give us the ability to work with Ford to provide customers even more access to new technologies in the vehicle infotainment space.

—Livio CEO Jake Sigal

Ford introduced Ford SYNC in 2007; by 2015, more than 14 million vehicles worldwide will be equipped with SYNC and 7 million with SYNC AppLink, which lets drivers control mobile apps with their voice.

With its SYNC connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface, Ford was the first automaker to launch an open developer program that enables software developers to directly interface with a vehicle and create apps to enhance the driving experience.

Ford previously contributed Smart Device Link, the open source version of AppLink, to the GENIVI Alliance for use by app developers.

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