Microsoft and Toyota announced on April 6 a partnership via which Toyota's next-generation telematics platform will be built using Microsoft Windows Azure and SQL Azure.
The pair are comitting to invest $12 million in Toyota Media Service Co., the Toyota subsidiary that provides digital information systems to Toyota automotive. The New telematics platform will encompass GPS, energy management and multimedia technologies, according to Microsoft's press release.
The first cars to take advantage of the new platform will be Toyota's electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. Toyota's longer-term goal is to establish a complete global cloud platform by 2015 that will provide telematics services to their customers globally.
Microsoft is positioning this deal as more than a simple Azure customer win. CEO Steve Ballmer is participating in an hour-long Webcast today at 4 p.m. ET to go over terms of the deal.
I'm wondering how Microsoft's decision to refocus its Hohm energy-management application from a home-energy-monitoring app to one that will manage electrical-vehicle charging at home plays into this. I've asked Microsoft for comment and will update if/when I hear back.
Update: During the Webcast, Ballmer emphasized power-management and remote administration of cars from cell phones as examples of the kinds of telematics services that Azure will enable.