Japanese automaker Toyota and Salesforce.com are in the midst of perfecting a car-focused social networking platform that will enable users to, for example, get the car started in the morning or turn its seat-warming mechanism on with a few finger jabs to an iPhone, instead of the usual going outside. Microsoft, though apparently staying at the sidelines through the initial developmental stages, represents one of heaviest investors in the project. So far, Microsoft has forked out $4.1 million dollars, Toyota $5.5 million, and Salesforce.com $2.8 million. Reportedly, Microsoft will be constructing a “global cloud platform” with the popular automaker.
The in-development social network currently goes by the handle “Toyota Friend,” and responsible for its most current progress is Salesforce.com, a cloud computing company from San Francisco. Next year, drivers in Japan of Toyota plug-in hybrids and electric cars will be the first to make use of the evolving social network, which will be accessible from any gadget connected to the internet.
Users will be able to interact with the new network through Facebook and Twitter, but it will nonetheless remain a private network and run on Salesforce.com’s Chatter service. Benefits of joining the network will include receiving tweets about one’s car running low on battery power and finding out the status of tire pressure from a Facebook feed.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corp., in a released statement commented: “Social networking services are transforming human interaction and modes of communication. The automobile needs to evolve in step with that transformation.”