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October 18, 1998

MOTOROLA FORMS GROUP TO FOCUS ON AUTO MARKET

By CBR Staff Writer

Motorola Corp has set up a new technology group which will focus on products for the automobile industry. The new unit is called the Telematics Communications Group (TCG) and is headed by corporate vice president Marios Zenios. Telematics technology, according to a Motorola spokesperson, allows for the delivery of voice and data communications to the driver and passengers of a car, and to even in-car systems themselves. Practical applications of the technology could include Global Positioning Systems (GPS), embedded ‘wireless’ phones and in-car entertainment software, including net browsers and multimedia streaming. The spokesperson claimed that the foundation of the TCG represented a more intense focusing on the kind of in-car offerings that have been a core of Motorola’s business since the firm introduced the car radio around 70 years ago. However, in common with the recently created Internet and Networking Group (CI 3,499) the TCG will still be made up of separate Motorola departments dotted across the globe. The entire unit will come under the auspices of Motorola’s Automotive, Component, Computer and Energy Sector (ACCESS), one of the three major umbrella groups that cover all of Motorola’s business ventures, the other two being the Communications Enterprise and Semiconductor Products groups. But despite the nebulous nature of Motorola’s frequently-revamped company structure, the TCG could find a growing market for its products. The spokesperson claims that Motorola is already working with Ford, Renault, BMW of North America and the Vauxhall/Opel Group among others. Telematics products will be offered as an option on 20 million vehicles next year. However, because the products will be optional rather than issued as standard on automobiles, the company cannot project how much revenue will be realized by the TCG next year. The TCG is talking to a number of companies about joint ventures for Telematics, but declined to name any of them. However, the recent V-commerce Alliance between Motorola Inc, SAP Labs Inc, BroadVision Inc and voice recognition specialists Nuance Communications Inc, among others, is working in technical areas likely to spill over into the automotive space. Naturally, with a potentially massive market for Telematics products, Motorola is not alone in eyeing the sector. Sharp Corp, IBM Japan Ltd, Pioneer Electronics Corp, Honda Motor Co, and Mazda Motor Corp have formed the MobileWeb Consortium (CI No 3,514) which is working on mobile data transmission protocols for in-car systems. Meanwhile, Belgian company Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products NV is working on adapting its voice recognition systems for vehicle navigation and web browsing.

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