By on January 3, 2008

syncthumb.jpgWould a new car buyer opt for a Ford just to get a $350 voice recognition system for their iPod (or similar) and Bluetooth-enabled phone? When Ford launched the national ad campaign for their in-dash Microsoft gizmo– selling the "new" Ford Focus entirely on its SYNCopation– the automaker revealed their faith 'n SYNC's ability to move the metal. Cynical observers might say the strategy is a desperate eHail Mary (lousy cars? syncing sales?). But credit where credit's due: it's a welcome move away from selling Fords based on price. And guess what? It's working! At least according to Cars.com. "Ford insists the 12 SYNC-equipped Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles now offering it are moving off dealer lots twice as fast as those without it." Hang on. That assertion doesn't mean Ford sales are improving; it simply says Ford customers want a SNYC-equipped FoMoCo product rather than one without. Question: do Ford dealers have enough SNYC-equipped models? Are they having to discount non-SYNC models? Cars.com ignores these and any other interesting issues. But if it's hard numbers you want… "Ford says a survey of SYNC buyers found 80% say it was easy to learn and use and 90% would recommend it to others." That's not necessarily a good thing. Ford's got an 18-month exclusive on the system. After that, it's anybody's game. 

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23 Comments on “Ford’s SYNC Sells Cars. Allegedly....”


  • avatar
    Nemphre

    I don’t get the appeal of the voice recognition. It would be easier to just press a button on the steering wheel to change a CD/MP3 track.

    I have doubts about Sync selling cars. At least on the Focus, it’s standard on the top trim and available in an option package in the mid-level trim, so for them to say that the Sync is the selling point is inaccurate as usual. The ones with Sync sell more because it’s part of the highly equipped vehicles.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Well, once all of the Foci are bought up by the underpaid Geek Squad managers, then we’ll see.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    I am anxious to see the accident history of Sync-equipped machines. Will they be involved in more accidents because the driver was more concerned with voice-commanding than driving?

  • avatar

    The Sync feature probably does help Ford sell some cars just like Onstar probably helps GM sell a few cars. But its probably not that many.

  • avatar

    Keep in mind that Sync was developed by Microsoft. It’s only a matter of time before it starts crashing in the middle of calls or giving the blue screen of death when you ask for a particular song. But don’t worry… Sync 2008 should be out in three or four more years and by then they promise they’ll have all the glitches worked out. But of course, you’ll have to upgrade to a larger car to use it.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    “Keep in mind that Sync was developed by Microsoft.”

    I thought that meant that adware bots would now have full control over Snyc equipped vehicles leading to pile-ups at viagra distributors.

  • avatar

    I agree with Nemphre, steering wheel controls are so much more useful. I do like Ford’s steering wheel controls on their premium models (Eddie Bauer, Limited, Merc, Lincoln); very intuitive.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Microsoft Sync runs on a variant of WinCE 5.0, no BSODs possible, for better or for worse.

    Has anyone hacked/jailbroken Sync to do stuff beyond what’s available from the factory? I would figure that the Ford-buying TTAC subset isn’t that big…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    maybe the linux comunity will bring out something better, look at handheld gps devices. Most use Linux kernels

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    From what I’ve heard about Sync, it’s everything that iDrive isn’t, like intuitive and easy to use.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Finally Ford has a unique selling proposition, its first since the Mustang came out 4 years ago.

    If I were Ford, I’d make the most of these 18 months. Make SYNC standard on every Lincoln, Mercury and Ford. Add the logo to every commercial and drum it into consumers’ heads.

    There are a lot of consumers out there (not here in TTAC-world) who think a Focus with SYNC is better than a Mazda3, Civic or GTI without. Ford needs to OWN them.

  • avatar
    N85523

    I agree with Nemphre. I’ve always thought speaking to inanimate objects is asinine. That of course is not to say that you can’t vocally praise your car for preforming well, assuming your friends aren’t in ear-shot. The idea of using a uniquely human trait such as speech to command very inhuman machinery or electronics seems a waste of breath, however. Just punch a button and be done with it. When driving alone, I am in a cacoon and seldom break the blanket of silence and thought with speech. When I call certain phone numbers for customer service and so forth, I always feel like the jackass-savant when I have to speak into the phone to a computer rather than punch a button on the keypad. Perhaps I’m behind the times and not up to all of the wiz-bang gadgetry of my generation (most of which I appreciate) but Sync is not a selling feature to this customer.

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    At least their only charging $350. I’m sick of everybody trying to bundle navigation and bluetooth into some $3,000 “technology” package.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Sync is an incredible selling feature – it really works well, and not just for technology professionals like me. And the price is a steal.

    The litmus test is – I would recommend it for my mother, just like a Honda Accord.

    Problem is – it only comes in a new Ford, which I would not recommend to my mother.

    I was shocked to read that Ford only has the exclusive for 18 months. And also very, very, happy.

  • avatar

    Honda already has a voice recognition system

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I could see this as a neat feature for folks who have to do a lot of traveling. As for endorsing Ford’s, the Focus isn’t my cup of tea. But I would have no problem giving a ‘thumbs up’ to the Taurus, Fusion, Taurus X, Explorer or F150.

    Ford’s problem these days is not that they make ‘bad’ products. It’s that none of their offerings are product leaders in their respective segments. If someone is looking for a very safe or conservative vehicle, I often do endorse a two to three year old Ford product.

    As for SYNC, Ford is starting to go back to their core strength. That is ‘features for the dollar’. I also wonder whether a no-haggle price for a variety of models of the same type (a la the mid-90’s Escort selling strategy) and a Hyundai-esque warranty would help give Ford broader appeal for some of their products.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Cretinx –

    Sync is much more than voice recognition.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Cretinx – Sync is much more than voice recognition.

    Who can blame cretinx for saying that? This thread proves that Ford is totally screwing up the SYNC marketing. All they promote is voice recognition, which is just a minor feature and something a lot of people don’t care about. What Ford doesn’t tell you is that it’s actually a very cool system. The whole point is to give you good control and navigation of your portable device (hence “sync”) by either wireless or corded connection — which they’re not communicating.

    SYNC’s Bluetooth doesn’t just do handsfree calling — it works with the 2-channel Bluetooth stereo audio (A2DP), which means you can just toss your music-phone or smart-phone or A2DP MP3 player onto the passenger seat without bothering to plug anything in, and start listening wirelessly to very good-quality audio. Would work great with my Helio Ocean. This is not the very first such OEM A2DP system but it *is* almost unprecedented, and there are only 3 or so aftermarket head units that do the same at this time.

    If you’re into Internet radio and have a smartphone, you can use the phone to connect to Internet radio and relay the audio wirelessly to the SYNC, and listen in your freakin’ Ford to any Internet radio station on the planet. iPods don’t do Bluetooth A2DP, but even there you have good interface and control built in, better than you see elsewhere and with a decent screen to read menus easily (a crucial but under appreciated point, my current pet peeve with my Alpine unit).

    It’s like Ford miraculously stumbled on something really neat but they don’t understand what it does and what’s cool about it.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    If you’re into Internet radio and have a smartphone, you can use the phone to connect to Internet radio and relay the audio wirelessly to the SYNC, and listen in your freakin’ Ford to any Internet radio station on the planet. iPods don’t do Bluetooth A2DP, but even there you have good interface and control built in, better than you see elsewhere and with a decent screen to read menus easily (a crucial but under appreciated point, my current pet peeve with my Alpine unit).

    It’s like Ford miraculously stumbled on something really neat but they don’t understand what it does and what’s cool about it.

    It may seem that way, but it’s more likely that Ford is smart enough to market basic voice recognition to the masses whilst letting the geeks go viral with the more complex possibilities.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic


    From what I’ve heard about Sync, it’s everything that iDrive isn’t, like intuitive and easy to use.”

    Yeah, but no matter how much you yell, you can’t unleash the 500 horsepower in the Focus.

    It looks SYNC is the ONLY reason to buy a new Ford these days…

  • avatar
    MiniMaks

    SYNC’s voice recognition is better integrated than current competition – for example, one could request a particular song by title or artist from an MP3 player attached to the vehicle. Remembering and then thumbing your way through hundreds of songs across multitude of playlists via steering wheel isn’t practical (or even feasible).

    SYNC itself isn’t enough to get me into a Ford vehicle, but I am certain I wouldn’t get one without SYNC.

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    You seem to forget this enables you to do things WITHOUT your hands leaving the wheel. Even after 500k miles without an accident in a car or on a bike(with hardly a mile below the speed limit outside of traffic), I still keep my hands in the 10-2 even in regular driving in traffic. With SYNC, I put a few thousand songs on a USB thumb drive, and make my entire 35 minute commute without ever touching the stereo. The SYNC, volume, and phone are all handled by my right thumb on the wheel….

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