Spotify Inks Its First In-Car Deal, Will Stream Music To Ford Via SYNC AppLink

Smartphones have long been an important distribution platform for music streaming service Spotify, and today it is taking that to the next level of mobility: today it is announcing a deal with Ford to provide in-car streaming music services, via Ford’s new SYNC AppLink service in Europe and North America. The deal will initially cover one car model, the EcoSport.

This is Spotify’s first in-car deal, but it’s not Ford’s: the company also works with Pandora in the U.S., a key competitive battleground between the two companies and others for consumers willing to pay and interested in listening to streaming music services compared to older media like CDs and radio, and downloads from iTunes.

It looks like Ford may be taking a more regional approach to their in-car services: it is also announcing Europe-only partnerships with Kaliki Audio Newsstand, the Glympse social location sharing app, and Aha audio entertainment channels for its European service. It’s aiming for the service to go into to 3.5 million cars by Europe. 

In the rush to make Mobile World Congress more and more relevant — even as some companies scale back their presence, or choose other venues for their big product launches — the GSMA has been bringing in increasing numbers of other players into the fold beyond its traditional base of handset makers and carriers. That has included car companies like Ford and General Motors, as well as apps/content companies like Spotify.

Although services like AppLink are still in their infancy, signing up brands like Spotify are important for raising consumer interest. Spotify in December 2012 announced 5 million paying subscribers, with 1 million of them in the U.S., and 20 million users overall including non-paying users.

Full press release is below.

All-New EcoSport to Offer Ford SYNC AppLink in Europe; Spotify Partnership Delivers Music Streaming on the Move

  • Ford announces the all-new EcoSport in Europe will be among the first vehicles in Europe to offer the Ford SYNC AppLink system when the compact SUV goes on sale later this year
  • Ford is the first automotive manufacturer to collaborate directly with the leading music streaming service Spotify to bring their music service into the car
  • Ford also confirms European partnerships with smartphone app service providers Kaliki Audio Newsstand, Glympse and Aha
  • Ford Developer Program enables developers to create voice-control apps for services from connected smartphones

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 25, 2013 – The all-new EcoSport compact SUV will be among the first Ford vehicles in Europe to offer SYNC AppLink, Ford today announced at the 2013 Mobile World Congress technology conference.

Ford also announced that Spotify – the leading music streaming service that provides on-demand access to a catalogue of more than 20 million songs globally – is the first music service provider to be confirmed as a Ford SYNC AppLink partner for Europe.

“SYNC AppLink opens up a whole new world of content to Ford customers that they can access on the move by voice control while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. “As one of the World’s most popular music streaming services, Spotify is the perfect partner to demonstrate the benefits of the Ford SYNC AppLink system.”

Ford SYNC AppLink will enable customers to control smartphone apps from the driver’s seat as part of Ford SYNC, the voice-activated in-car connectivity system that will feature in 3.5 million Ford vehicles in Europe by 2015.

Spotify is the largest and most successful music streaming service of its kind, available in 17 European countries, and with more than 20 million active users and five million paying subscribers around the world. AppLink will enable drivers to access Spotify songs and playlists using voice commands including: “shuffle”, “repeat”, “star/unstar track”, “choose playlist”, “play music”, “recently played”, and “now playing”.

The integration of Spotify with Ford SYNC AppLink-equipped vehicles in both Europe and North America marks the company’s first direct collaboration with an automotive manufacturer making the streaming music service available in the car.

“Spotify brings you the right music for every moment; on your computer, your mobile, your tablet, your home entertainment system; and soon also in your Ford vehicle,” said Pascal de Mul global head of hardware partnerships, Spotify. “Our partnership with Ford AppLink will enable music-loving drivers to enjoy access to Spotify’s huge catalogue of more than 20 million tracks safely, while on the road.”

In addition, Ford partnerships with Kaliki, Glympse and Aha will offer the following services to Ford drivers in Europe:

  • Kaliki Audio Newsstand – provides audible playback of newspaper and magazine articles with radio-talent voices and is expanding to offer European language content from news sources such as Agence France-Presse and entertainment titles such as Public and Première
  • Glympse – allows Ford drivers to share their location and estimated time of arrival with friends and family, all in real-time on a dynamic map, directly from their vehicle using simple voice commands
  • Aha – delivers more than 30,000 stations of audio entertainment and information to the car, allowing drivers to safely access web-based music, news, their Facebook and Twitter feeds, personalised restaurant recommendations and hotels, weather reports and much more

“The news that Kaliki, Glympse and Aha will also deliver Europe-tailored versions of the AppLink compatible apps previously announced for North America offers a snap-shot of the range of services Ford AppLink customers in Europe will be able to enjoy,” Mascarenas added.

Ford launched the Ford Developer Program – the automotive industry’s first open mobile app developer programme – for AppLink at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, attracting more than 2,500 registered users within four weeks. The programme encourages app developers around the globe to create their own SYNC voice-control apps for services from connected smartphones. It will allow the European app development community to deliver an array of music and entertainment services.