IBM, Toyota to create application development platform for autos

With the move, IBM is in the middle of a series of partnerships and announcements as automakers race to offer better in-cockpit services, but playing to its integrator core strengths.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM and Toyota said Monday they will team up on a platform to develop the automaker's T-Connect telematics service.

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With the move, IBM is in the middle of a series of partnerships and announcements as automakers race to offer better in-cockpit services. Google has its Open Auto Alliance. Apple is in the middle of in-car entertainment. BlackBerry's QNX platform is strong and Microsoft helped give Ford a lead with its Sync in-car system.

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Big Blue, however, is playing to its core strengths as an integrator with the Toyota deal. IBM will help Toyota build an application development platform that aims to create on-board systems and apps under its Toyota Open Vehicle Architecture. Toyota already offers an app suite called Entune.

Like Ford, Toyota is hoping to land developers to create in-car applications that win over drivers. IBM will provide developers and content providers a platform to build applications.

The platform will include a software developer kit. IBM plans to offer a single app platform that'll speed up the design and delivery process with applications. An emulator is also designed to speed up testing. The linchpin of the platform is middleware called IBM Lotus Expeditor for Automotive that enables composite applications to be built.

IBM also works on in-car technology with the likes of TransWiseway, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Continental AG, Sprint and Ford.

What's unclear about car technology is whether these developer ecosystems will fly given that apps appear to be going into automaker silos so far with varying degrees of open architectures. Toyota has its system, Ford has its own and the Open Automotive Alliance counts Audi, Honda, Hyundai and GM as partners. The Open Automotive Alliance hasn't released any news since its launch announcement in January.

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