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Oracle behind the wheel of wired cars

CEO Larry Ellison announces Oracle has formed an alliance with Wingcast to outfit the 2003-model Fords with wireless communication devices and services.

Oracle is going on a road trip.

Chief Executive Larry Ellison on Thursday announced Oracle has formed an alliance with telematics company Wingcast, which is expected to outfit the 2003-model Fords with wireless communication devices and services including the ability to access e-mail or the Internet.

Wingcast is a joint venture between Ford Motor and Qualcomm.

The two companies will establish a research facility in San Diego to develop the applications that some believe will make telematics a $42 billion industry by 2010, Ellison said.

The announcement is Oracle's jump into the field of telematics, or wiring automobiles to receive wireless communications. The industry leader is arguably OnStar, which on Thursday said its technology is already in about 1.3 million cars made by General Motors.

Ellison expects the same type of numbers for Wingcast once the technology is finally inside Ford cars. Wingcast also has signed an agreement with Nissan Motors to outfit their cars as well, Ellison noted.

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Daniel Garretson, senior analyst, Forrester Research
"GM and Ford have approximately the same numbers of cars on the road," Ellison said. "That brings us back to parity. That leaves the independents, and we signed up Nissan."

In a statement issued Thursday, OnStar said unlike Wingcast, it "continues to actually provide its subscribers with options for personalized content services from industry-leading companies."