Microsoft is going to start licensing connected car technology to Toyota, with plans to establish such agreements with other auto makers going forward.
In a blog post announcing the partnership, Microsoft VP and Chief IP Counsel Erich Andersen explained that the move dovetails with the rise of the connected car, asserting, “we’re at a critical inflection point that will change how we drive.” Andersen also notes that the company had already partnered with Toyota last year when Toyota signed on to use Microsoft Azure cloud computing for its new Toyota Connected smart car R&D company; as such, it was a natural partner with which to begin licensing IP for connected car applications. But the car company is just the first partner in Microsoft’s new licensing program, Andersen suggested.
Microsoft isn’t the first major tech company to pivot into the automotive market. There have long been rumors about Apple working on secret smart car project, and Samsung has just completed its acquisition of smart car components maker Harman, with Samsung Electronics President Young Sohn also seeing “transformative opportunities in the car”. Meanwhile, car makers are increasingly looking at how they can integrate cutting-edge technologies like biometric authentication into their new vehicles.
It isn’t yet clear what kind of IP offerings Microsoft will provide to Toyota, but it’s fair to expect some interesting developments as the smart car race picks up speed.