Microsoft Signs Connected Car Deal With Renault-Nissan

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Microsoft grabs a seat in the car with Azure deal with Renault-Nissan, but what smartphone will the driver be using?

Microsoft has signed a global deal with the Renault-Nissan Alliance that will see the various parties work together to advance the connected driving experience in the years ahead.

Microsoft has long harboured car ambitions after it revealed back in 2014 that it was targeting the connected car market with Windows.

Connected Cars

This deal between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Redmond is to develop connected services for cars that are powered by Microsoft Azure.

nissan-ceo-carlos-ghosnThe aim is to “improve customer experience via advanced navigation, predictive maintenance and vehicle centric services, remote monitoring of car features, external mobile experiences and over-the-air updates.”

There is little doubt that the car has become an increasingly connected mode of transportation, with most cars now employing different ways for the driver to integrate their mobile devices into the car’s onboard systems, and also for the car (mostly top of the range models) to remain in touch with the outside world.

“A car is becoming increasingly connected, intelligent and personal,” said Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior VP, Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services. “Partnering with Microsoft allows us to accelerate the development of the associated key technologies needed to enable scenarios our customers want and build all-new ones they haven’t even imagined. We aim to become the provider of connected mobility for everyone with one single global platform.”

It seems that the Renault-Nissan Alliance wants to develop not only the ability to increase the connectivity options for drivers, but also to develop autonomous driving technology by 2020.

It hopes the deal with Microsoft will provide it with the necessary services so the driver can maximise the use of newly found in-car free time, when the vehicle drives itself presumably.

The choice of Microsoft Azure is understandable considering it offers a secure and scalable cloud platform, and reinforces Redmond’s current approach to offer back-end solutions in favour of customer facing devices.

“While the connected car experience is in its infancy, we believe there’s so much potential to dramatically change the industry. We are partnering to accelerate Renault-Nissan’s mobile and cloud strategies and unlock new experiences for their customers,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive VP and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft.

Back-End Only

“Renault-Nissan is an exceptional partner thanks to its global presence and range of brands, which enable it to bring entirely new mobile and digital experiences to so many people. This collaboration will bring a new standard to connected cars.”

What is less understandable is how Microsoft hopes to play any part on the driver-facing side of the equation.

It is a given for example that the driver of the future will be using either an Apple or Android powered smartphone, rather than any device from Redmond. Microsoft has conducted an ignominious retreat from the mobile consumer market with the sale of its feature phone business earlier this year, the brutal gutting of its Nokia smartphone business, and the termination of the Lumia smartphone range.

Windows Phone (WP) meanwhile is now regarded as a dead operating system with a tiny market share, and many users of older WP handsets have been left stranded with no upgrade path to Windows 10.

For its part, Redmond repeatedly maintains it is still committed to Windows 10 on mobile devices, but any rumoured smartphones would likely target the business and not the consumer segment.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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