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Entune from Toyota

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Toyota announced the launch of Entune today at CES 2011. Entune is Toyota’s new take on in-car navigation systems. Entune is Toyota’s answer to Ford’s Sync. Sync and Entune go beyond being mere navigation systems. In-car navigation systems have been around for a number of years and tracking and security-focused systems such as GM’s OnStar have been around much longer. In-car navigation systems have traditionally been extremely expensive (compared to what you would pay for equivalent functionality on a stand-alone PND) but consumers have forked over money because of integration with vehicle’s diagnostic system and also aesthetics. PNDs with those mounts and dangling wires look ugly.

However, lately a huge problem with in-car navigation systems is how quickly they become obsolete due to the rapid innovation in the enabling technologies that are powering these devices. Within a year or two of the new car purchase the in-car nav system starts looking dated compared to what’s available in the marketplace. These systems age much faster than the cars that house them. That’s why Toyota’s approach with the Entune is spot on. Toyota is smartly leveraging the mobile as a complementary part of the in-car experience. Entune system gets to leverage all the innovation on the mobile front and keep the experience on the in-car system fresh and up to date. Turning the in-car unit into  a (largely) dumb screen (as far as applications are concerned) is a counter-intuitive but smart move. Additional benefits include consumers not having to pay extra for data charges for the in-car unit. All data transfers could potentially happen via the consumer’s mobile and the consumer can chose to use WiFi wherever possible.

Toyota and its partners are also setting themselves up to collecting a gold-mine of behavioral data from Entune’s users. Entune is an innovative product with a lot of potential and Toyota deserves credit for thinking outside the in-car navigation box.

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Written by Varma Chanderraju

January 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Automotive, Innovation

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