Ford has taken the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show as an opportunity to announce it’s no long a purely car company; it’s a “mobility company.” That means they’ll be digging heavily into apps, integration, and cars you don’t drive, but the big news everyone expected with Google was nowhere to be found.
For now, those remain just rumors. At today’s press conference, the reported tie-up was not explicitly denied, but Ford CEO Mark Fields fired off a long list of corporate collaborators the company is working with—and neither Google nor Alphabet were on it.
“We are very proud to be an automaker,” and Ford is going to keep building cars, Fields said to myself and a few hundred other journalists that had been offered free orange juice spiked with vodka. But he explained that we’re going to see Ford evolve and find a new focus in the “transportation services sector.” That means ride-share services, taxi services like Uber and Lyft, and peer-to-peer car rental like AirBnB for your car.
Ford is also going to be pushing app-integration to your car and across your devices even harder. A partnership with Amazon is going to unlock “Alexa,” sort of like an iPhone’s Siri, but that can open a channel of communication between your car and your thermostat and household lighting and television.
Fields said the automotive industry churns about $2.3 trillion in annual revenue around the world of which Ford owns about 6 percent. Meanwhile, “transportation services,” like those mentioned above, have the potential to generate trillions more (and in some cases are already) and Ford wants to get in on that.
If a Ford and Google partnership is on the horizon, it’s still a ways off from being official. But Ford has made it clear they’re not going to sit around while the people-moving business changes, and I think we’re going to start to see other automakers follow suit.
Image via Ford
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