Microsoft today announced a partnership with Siemens VDO to jointly develop entertainment and automobile systems for the automobile market:
Siemens VDO Automotive AG and Microsoft Corp. will join forces to develop in-vehicle communication, information, entertainment and navigation products. … Working together, Siemens VDO and Microsoft will be able to deliver these advanced solutions to market much faster than the typical automotive industry’s product development cycle. According to current planning, the first Siemens VDO product based on Microsoft software technology is expected to go into production as early as 2009.
Siemens VDO will bring to market a new generation of automotive infotainment systems that include navigation, high-end multimedia units and interfaces to connect portable electronic entertainment devices using the Microsoft software technology platform.
The first milestone in the collaboration is a multimedia platform that Siemens VDO is developing based on Microsoft Auto. This platform will make it possible to integrate functions and portable devices from the field of consumer electronics more closely into the vehicle as soon as 2009.
Siemens VDO is currently being purchased by European car parts maker Continental for $15.6 billion and this seems to be a play to concentrate on hardware while adopting Microsoft as the software provider. The auto infotainment market is currently about $38 billion per year, but has been impacted significantly by the rise of portable media players.