Microsoft and Toyota head for the cloud, as IHS iSuppli predicts mass deployment of LTE infrastructure

Microsoft and Toyota head for the cloud, as IHS iSuppli predicts mass deployment of LTE infrastructure

Microsoft and Toyota announced a strategic partnership to build a global cloud-based platform for next-generation telematics services. Toyota says it hopes to establish a complete global cloud platform by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services to Toyota customers around the world. As part of the partnership, Toyota and Microsoft have pledged 1 billion yen (roughly $12 million) to Toyota Media Service Co., a Toyota subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota customers. The two companies will develop and deploy telematics applications on the Windows Azure platform, starting with Toyota’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. “This new partnership … is an important step in developing greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Company. “Creating these more efficient, more environmentally advanced products will be our contribution to society.”

Masternaut launched a new smartphone app solution that allows clients to customize tracking apps and then make them available to end-users on the Apple App Store or Android Market. Companies can choose colors, insert their company logo, and edit content and icons. Custom apps can include maps showing the live location of vehicles, assets, and mobile workers, and end-users can take pictures of problems and pinpoint them on a map.

Trimble introduced Trimble GeoManager WorkManagement, a cloud-based software solution that allows users to manage fleet productivity and maximize the output of a mobile workforce. The software includes features like Work Advisor and In-day Planner, which enables rapid delivery of tools to re-optimize routes and workload, and Performance Manager, which provides real-time analysis of the mobile work status to help keep customer commitments on track.

Transics announced that, starting in Q2 2011, it will progressively launch TX-MAGELLAN, a new range of trailer solutions that helps carriers manage assets, monitor cargo, and optimize maintenance. One solution, GEO, is a battery-fed tracer that forwards location details to the back office several times a day. Another, ROUTE, accurately calculates the distance traveled so carriers can check subcontractors’ kilometer-based invoices in detail in order to avoid possible abuse.

CarrierWeb unveiled its new Trailer/Asset Tracker, which keeps carriers abreast of where their trailers and assets are at all times. The solution enables owners of trailers and other assets to pinpoint their locations via the Internet in real time, with updates on positions, speed during consignment, and waiting times at loading and unloading points. The system also can include route geofencing and landmarks and is chargeable from the trailer’s electric circuit.

TomTom released two new features to its WORKsmart fleet management solutions. The first, Active Driver Feedback, promotes safe driving by providing drivers immediate feedback on their driving performance with fuel consumption info, speeding, harsh steering, and breaking warnings, and EcoStatistics. The second, WEBFLEET OptiDrive, gives business management an easy tool to help their drivers drive more safely and efficiently. The solution includes the OptiDrive Indicator, a bar that displays variables like speeding, fuel efficiency, idling, and driving events.

TomTom also announced that its new range of PNDs, the VIA series, have hit the market in the US and Canada. The VIA series includes a new design, an enhanced software platform, and new safety features like intuitive voice recognition and Bluetooth hands-free calling. Prices on the PNDs range from $169 to $219.

Garmin plans to open a new facility in the Detroit area to support current automotive OEM customers and develop new global business opportunities. Located in Novi, Michigan, the facility will support a staff of Garmin associates that specialize in automotive OEM sales, marketing, and engineering disciplines. The facility will include offices and vehicle preparation space for product design, development, and demonstration. The office is scheduled to open May 1, 2011.

IHS iSuppli predicted that as carriers in the US and Europe seek to migrate their networks to 4G, 2011 will witness the first mass deployment of long-term evolution (LTE) wireless infrastructure. In the next three years, spending on LTE infrastructure gear will expand to $27.9 billion globally, up from just $1.5 billion in 2010, IHS research shows. Infrastructure spending will be concentrated in North America in 2011 but then will ramp up considerably in other regions in 2012, reducing North America’s influence to less than 20 percent of overall global spending by 2014. “While this spending represents tremendous growth in next-generation wireless technology, carriers still will be required to support multiple air interface technologies simultaneously, as the migration to 4G and LTE will not happen overnight,” noted Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for communications and consumer electronics at IHS.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

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