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Qualcomm grounds Wingcast venture

The company has closed the door on its telematics deal with Ford Motor, and about 150 employees have lost their jobs.

Wingcast is being grounded.

The two-year-old telematics venture between Qualcomm and Ford Motor closed its doors Monday and about 150 employees lost their jobs, said Qualcomm Treasurer Richard Grannis.

Wingcast was created in October 2000. It sold equipment that let drivers do things like operate phones or car stereos using their voices, or automatically notify police and hospitals when an airbag deployed. The company was based in San Diego.

Qualcomm invested $25 million in Wingcast, owning 15 percent, Grannis said.

Ford Motor did not return a call for comment Monday. It owned 85 percent of Wingcast, and was its sole source of funding since May 2001. Ford has never divulged how much it invested.

Grannis said Ford and Nissan Motor still intend to use Wingcast equipment in some lines of cars this fall.

Telematics executives recently said the late 1990s Internet stock bubble inflated revenue expectations and warped business plans for the emerging niche of dashboard computing, also known as telematics.

Analysts and executives in the segment are now downscaling sales estimates, looking for ways to slash costs, and are dramatically expanding their time frame for profitability.