Microsoft Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation’s announcement that the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform will host telematics applications for Toyota’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles marks an important step in the battle for enterprise market share amongst the top cloud computing vendors. Disclosed on April 6, the agreement signifies Microsoft’s increasing dominance in the automotive vertical as it expands its market base beyond Ford, Kia and Fiat. Microsoft and Toyota plan to invest $12 million or $1 billion yen in telematics services for the Toyota subsidiary, Toyota Media Service. Telematics marks the conjunction of information technology with telecommunications in a way that allows users to obtain increased control of energy management, multimedia and location-related services. Expected features of the Microsoft Azure based platform include:
• The ability to determine when to most economically recharge an electric battery in relation to energy costs
• A mobile application that checks battery levels and calculates how far users can drive before recharging their battery
• The ability to manage home energy and air conditioning units from automobiles
• Increased customization over streaming audio and video content
Initial deployment of telematics applications is expected amongst Toyota’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. Toyota plans to deploy a global, Azure based platform to provide advanced telematics services to its customers by 2015. The initial roll-out of Toyota’s partnership with Microsoft will focus on energy management but the platform will more broadly enhance information access and control for its users. Toyota plans to render its telematics platform available to other car manufacturers as well in a move that would increase standardization within the automotive vertical with respect to driver access to energy, entertainment and location information.