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Ford acquires in-car connectivity startup Livio in sub-$10M deal

Ford has paid an undisclosed amount to acquire Detroit-based Livio with the goal of better augmenting its capabilities in the world of smartphone connectivity.

At the 2013 International CES, Ford brazenly offered Sync, its in-car infotainment platform, up to anybody who wanted it. As of September, nobody has taken the company up on the offer, but that isn't stopping it from moving forward. The Blue Oval has just announced the successful acquisition of Detroit-based startup Livio.

Livio, which formerly made its own line of hardware accessories under the Livio Radio brand, offers a solution called Livio Connect, designed to make smartphone interaction (the art of pairing your handset with your car) simpler for developers and easier for users.

Connectivity is an increasingly important feature in the automotive world, and with no well-defined standard, developers are often left having to write and rewrite their apps for each automotive platform. Livio Connect, which is also used in Chevrolet's latest-generation MyLink system, could perhaps grow into that standard.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Jake Sigal, founder and CEO of Livio, said: "We feel that the industry desperately needs a standard." This deal is "a great opportunity to help solve the problem." He believes that the acquisition will enable his company to secure more partnerships than when it was independent. "At the end of the day, it's a lot easier pushing a standard when you're not just some startup in Metro Detroit."

Ford CTO Paul Mascerenas declined to give details of the deal, but classified it as "quite small" -- which in Ford terms equates to something less than $10 million. The intent is to operate the company as a wholly owned subsidiary, to maintain jobs for all 11 Livio employees, and to continue to support those third parties that have licensed Livio's technology. Exactly when we'll see this tech appearing in Ford vehicles, and whether it will maintain compatibility with Ford's own AppLink, remains to be seen.