Microsoft Tellme To Compete With OnStar

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has reportedly begun showing U.S. automakers Tellme, an alternative software for in-car navigation and assistance currently being offered exclusively by General Motor Corp.'s OnStar communications service.

The technology was obtained by Microsoft in May, when the company acquired Tellme Networks Inc., a phone software company. Microsoft recently displayed the voice-recognition software, which allows mobile phone users to receive spoken data from a database, at an auto industry conference.

Please, 'Tellme': How does it work?

The Tellme service would connect through a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone in the car. Microsoft hopes it will challenge OnStar, GM's digital subscription-based wireless service, which costs between $204 and $324 per year (after the first year which is free when you purchase a new GM vehicle). OnStar boasts almost 5 million subscribers.

Tellme could be paired with Sync, digital music and mobile phone software that will be offered by the Ford Motor Co. on its 2008 Ford Focus. The Ford Sync system will let drivers make calls or access music by voice request. Sync will have a small monitor in the dashboard of the Ford Focus which will also receive and read text messages aloud.

The Ford Sync system will be available as a $395 option on the Focus, though it will eventually be available on twelve Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. OnStar costs between $17 to $27 a month and links live operators with drivers in need of directions, emergency help, and other services, including diagnosing mechanical problems.

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