Ford Makes a Play for Chinese Drivers with In-Car Weibo App




While we’re not attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we are paying close attention to news coming out of the annual tech event. Among all the headlines, American car-maker Ford (NYSE:F) made a play to bring more mobile applications to its Sync voice-activated system, and surprisingly China’s most popular microblog, Sina Weibo, is one of nine new apps to be added.

According to the announcement, Ford’s collaboration with Sina (NASDAQ:SINA) makes the Weibo mobile app available in the vehicle via the AppLink API, allowing drivers to access news, weather, microblogging, and location-based services using voice control.

Drivers can connect their phone to the Sync system, and use apps which Ford supports. But the car-maker says it doesn’t allow certain kinds of apps that would be a visual distraction, such as any video or rich imagery apps, games, or any application that requires extensive reading.

Other new apps to join Ford’s AppLink ecosystem are The Wall Street Journal, Amazon Cloud Player, Rhapsody, Glympse, and Aha Radio.

The timing for Ford to offer support for Chinese services with AppLink couldn’t be better, as a new ban on using cell phones while driving just went into effect on New Year’s Day 1, and we subsequently saw numerous reports of consumers buying up hands-free Bluetooth headsets as a result. It will be interesting to see if Ford can benefit from the new law in a similar way.


  1. Of course, whether this law will actually be enforced is another story.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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