Toyota has teamed up with cloud computing solutions company Salesforce.com. One of the tech firms products is called Salesforce Chatter, which is a private social network designed to allow a specific group to communicate. For the automaker's purposes, Toyota Friend will allow vehicle owners to interact with dealers, the manufacturer and each other. In fact, Toyota Friend will even connect owners to their cars by tapping into the vehicles telematic systems.
Initially, Toyota Friend will roll out to Japanese customers. Specifically those that have purchased 2012 model year electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
This partnership involves more than shared technology. Toyota is investing 442 million yen (approximately $5.4 million USD) into the company that oversees the application of the automaker's global cloud computing development, which is called Toyota Media Services. Salesforce is supplying 223 million yen ($2.7 million USD). Additionally, Microsoft has agreed to provide 335 million yen ($4.1 million USD) as part of the recently announced strategic partnership between the computing giant and Toyota. See the full press release after the break.
Toyota Friend to Be Powered by Salesforce Chatter
TOKYO, May 23, 2011-Salesforce.com [NYSE: CRM] and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) [NYSE: TM] announced today that they have formed a strategic alliance to build "Toyota Friend", a private social network for Toyota customers and their cars. Toyota Friend will be powered by Salesforce Chatter, a private social network used by businesses, and will be offered, first in Japan, initially with Toyota's electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHV) due in 2012.
Toyota Friend will be a private social network that connects Toyota customers with their cars, their dealership, and with Toyota. Toyota Friend will provide a variety of product and service information as well as essential maintenance tips, creating a rich car ownership experience. For example, if an EV or PHV is running low on battery power, Toyota Friend would notify the driver to re-charge in the form of a "tweet"-like alert. In addition, while Toyota Friend will be a private social network, customers can choose to extend their communication to family, friends, and others through public social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The service will also be accessible through smart phones, tablet PCs, and other advanced mobile devices.
Regarding the alliance, salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said:
"Toyota and salesforce.com share a vision to take the auto industry into the future. Social and mobile technologies will transform the car ownership experience, and we are excited to be Toyota's partner in this transformation."
TMC President Akio Toyoda said:
"Social networking services are transforming human interaction and modes of communication. The automobile needs to evolve in step with that transformation. I am always calling for Toyota to make ever-better cars. The alliance that we announce today is an important step forward in achieving that goal."
Salesforce.com is a fast-growing enterprise cloud computing company that has been in operation for more than 12 years. The company has nearly 100,000 customers worldwide, including large enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses, and government organizations. The company's social, open, and mobile technologies represent the next generation of enterprise cloud computing.
To date, TMC has developed its own telematics services to connect people, cars and their surroundings. Through Toyota Friend, TMC aims to offer its telematics services worldwide. Moving forward, TMC plans to advance toward the realization of future mobility by teaming up proactively with global IT companies.
Although TMC and salesforce.com will launch their partnership with the building of Toyota Friend, in the future the companies plan to develop cloud services for TMC's open platform and create new business opportunities leveraging their respective strengths.
Salesforce.com and TMC will each make investments in Toyota Media Service Co. (TMS), which oversees TMC's global cloud platform development. Salesforce.com will invest 223 million yen and TMC will invest 442 million yen. Microsoft Corporation, which on April 6 announced a strategic partnership with TMC to build a global platform for next-generation telematics services, will invest 335 million yen.