Sprint hitches up with Ford, eyes deals with gadget makers
Sprint Nextel has been losing customers on the consumer retail front, but it’s adding them in the wholesale arena. The carrier today announced details of its deal with Ford Motor Co. to provide the connectivity for 2009 Ford F-Series and E-Series vehicles.
Beginning this spring, those vehicles – and later in 2009, Transit Connect vehicles – will offer an in-dashboard PC with Internet connectivity via the Sprint network. The idea, in part, is to provide productivity gains and reduce costs associated with fleets and scheduling. For example, field service and construction industries can modify and confirm “change orders” to a “work order” or “job estimate,” avoiding delays and keeping jobs on schedule.
Sprint and Ford say they will co-market solutions and later announce exclusive offers for the solution suite. The companies will also appear at several events in the months ahead, including industry trade shows, to get the word out to customers.
The deal is not surprising given Sprint’s history of leasing network services for products other than its own cell phones. Besides powering MVNOs, the company provides the service for Amazon’s Kindle. The Wall Street Journal says the company is also talking with GPS device-maker Garmin, as well as Eastman Kodak and SanDisk (story here ).
The hook-up between Sprint and Ford also is not surprising given Sprint’s history in the fieldwork management space and with location-based services (LBS). The Direct Connect push-to-talk iDEN service appeals to field workers, crews and project managers.
Last year, the head of Ford’s connectivity group said the Sync product, the in-car communications system designed with Microsoft, was a “smashing success” (story here ). Wireless solutions providers such as Airbiquity are working with Ford, as well as other car makers.
At next week’s CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show, UIEvolution is expected to demonstrate a car app using a cell phone to remotely control car features.