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Meet Your Next Social Networking Channel: Your Car

Salesforce.com and Toyota Motor Corp. are partnering to build Toyota Friend, a private social network for Toyota customers and their cars. Toyota Friend will be powered by Salesforce Chatter, Salesforce.com's enterprise social messaging platform. The offering will first roll out in Japan in Toyota's electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles due in 2012.

Toyota Friend will be a private social network that connects Toyota customers with their cars, their dealership, and with Toyota. Information that is expected to filter through the application include product and service data as well as maintenance tips. The companies give the example of an electric car that is running low on battery power. Toyota Friend would notify the driver to re-charge in the form of a "tweet"-like alert.

This is not a closed loop system, however: customers can communicate to family, friends, and others through Twitter and Facebook. The service will also be accessible through smart phones, tablet PCs, and other advanced mobile devices.

Catching Up with Ford Toyota is investing significantly in order to catch up with Ford‘s in-car technology, ZdNet writes. It is investing $5.6 million in Toyota Media Service, the company that is building the global telematics system for the cars. Salesforce.com is kicing in $2.85 million and the third partner in the endeavor, Microsoft, is investment $4.3 million.

A Dying Category?

This offering, if it proves successful, may boost a stagnant, related industry: automotive infotainment. This market is expected to go into decline in the next five years with GPS as a major driver, according to data from ABI Research. It predicts a forecast of a 15.9% shrinkage in the worldwide automotive infotainment market from more than $29.5 billion in 2010 to $24.8 billion in 2015.

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