Best Global Green Brands 2014

digital moves

GM Hopes New OnStar 4G LTE Service Flies with WiFi-Crazy Car Buyers

Posted by Dale Buss on May 13, 2014 04:07 PM

General Motors is going further down the infotainment road first paved by its OnStar brand 18 years ago, fielding a new, hard-wired digital stream in its new cars through a partnership with AT&T to provide 4G LTE connectivity. Only this time, its critics say, by providing on-board internet service, GM is only offering a service that already is available to people in its vehicles in a number of other ways (like their smartphones). 

No doubt GM believes that its a la carte 4G LTE service, which it announced earlier this year at CES, will attract consumers when it is offered beginning next month in the 2015 Chevrolet Malibu and then, over the course of the year, in 30 other GM models. It'll begin marketing the service under OnStar and its vehicle brands in the coming weeks.

"There are a lot of learnings we have built up" through OnStar over the years, Phil Abram, GM's Chief Infotainment Officer, told brandchannel. "It's not as simple as bolting a modem into a car. It's much more sophisticated than that. And also to make sure you have the services to back it up. That's where GM has a broad advantage."Continue reading...

executive decision

Brand Leadership: CEO Mulally Yields to Fields At Ford

Posted by Dale Buss on May 1, 2014 04:44 PM

It happened in fits and starts, if relatively smoothly overall. But COO Mark Fields has finally received the official nod to "go further" at Ford—as the automaker's next president and CEO. Following a long period as current CEO Alan Mulally's protégé, Fields will take over as the the company's top executive on July 1.

"Mark has transformed several of our operations around the world into much stronger businesses during his 25 years at Ford," executive chairman Bill Ford commented. "Now, Mark is ready to lead our company into the future as CEO."

Ford (aka Ford scion William C. Ford II) was smart enough to recruit Mulally from Boeing to take over his own job as Ford's CEO in 2006 and wise enough to back Mulally through a number of controversial decisions, including the financially-driven decision to leverage the company to the hilt soon after his arrival and to forego federal-taxpayer assistance in 2009 when rivals General Motors and Ford took government bailout funds.Continue reading...

car talk

Whether in Barcelona, Geneva—Or Both—Car Brands are Making News in Europe

Posted by Dale Buss on February 26, 2014 04:49 PM

With the European auto market showing signs of life after a five-year recession, and mobile-connectivity technology coming to dominate automobile design worldwide, there are hundreds of car brand executives flocking to Geneva and Barcelona this week.

At this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, increasing news about the latest in automotive technology is being made alongside myriad announcements about smartphone advances and news from the "internet of things." It's similar to how the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each January has emerged as a crucial venue for advancements in automotive digital technology.

The Geneva Motor Show kicks off next week at a time when it appears European auto sales finally may have bottomed out. Combined with the fact that many of the advances they show won't be available for a year or a few years anyway, the Geneva show is a more important platform for car brands than it has been in some years.Continue reading...

mobile brands

MWC '14: With QWERTY Keyboard in Hand, BlackBerry Plans Out Return to Greatness

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 25, 2014 06:42 PM

If there's any news worth reading about out of Mobile World Congress this week, it's that BlackBerry is essentially rising from the dead. 

After falling from what was once the highest point on the smartphone mountain, the Canadian mobile brand looks to be making a comeback with new products, services and partnerships. But a big part of BlackBerry's comeback strategy isn't looking to the future—it's pulling from the past. 

Along with lower-priced devices aimed at emerging markets in Asia, the brand “plans to offer a retro-styled device with a keyboard” and trackpad, the Wall Street Journal reports. It may seem antiquated, but the phone also has built-in Menu, Back, Send, and End buttons—all requests of longtime customers looking for that "classic" BlackBerry feel. 

"We are definitely here to compete and make up some lost ground," BlackBerry CEO John Chen said, the Journal reports. Chen continues to be excited about the challenge BlackBerry has ahead of it: “This is like the third shift, sitting there, by myself…and trying to figure out where the problem is,” he said. "It could be devastating—you could be wrong. You could be working on a problem in circles and looking at the wrong places. But it could be really cool too.”Continue reading...

car talk

Consumer Reports Creates More Turmoil in Auto Hierarchy, But Lexus is Still Tops

Posted by Dale Buss on February 25, 2014 04:02 PM

Consumer Reports' closely watched rankings of auto brands and top vehicles are out for 2014. And while Japanese brands remain on top, the annual evaluations once again are providing an illustration of major automakers increasingly clustering together in how their vehicles are regarded by consumers.

Japanese automakers captured 7 of the top 10 ranked brands overall for reliability and road-test performance in the tests conducted by the magazine. And the top-ranked Detroit brands, Buick and GMC, could do no better than tie to rank 12th.

Yet in the magazine's separate list of Top Picks in each vehicle segment, Japanese brands took only five of the top 18 spots, the fewest in the 18-year history of the publication's picks. Japanese brands had taken more than 70 percent of those spots since 1997.Continue reading...

car talk

MWC '14: Ford Shifts Sync to BlackBerry's QNX and Reveals Tech-Forward Focus

Posted by Dale Buss on February 24, 2014 12:52 PM

Auto brands are sure to make lots of news in the connected-car space at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, but the biggest news in the field already seems to be out: Ford is ditching Microsoft for BlackBerry's QNX in Sync, its in-car infotainment system.

According to Bloomberg, Ford is going to base the next-generation Sync system on the QNX software that BlackBerry acquired when it bought QNX Software Systems in 2010. Using QNX will be less expensive than licensing Microsoft technology and will improve the flexibility and speed of the next Sync system, the publication said.

Sure, BlackBerry, the parent company and brand, are troubled in the cutthroat mobile technology industry, but QNX remains vital in the exploding auto-mobility business. For instance, at the Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm and QNX are demonstrating a Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG that has been modified to showcase the latest features of Qualcomm's Snapdragon connectivity system.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Mobile World Congress, Honda, Barnes & Noble and more

Posted by Dale Buss on February 24, 2014 09:14 AM

In the News

Mobile World Congress gets underway in Barcelona, as Nokia unveils its first Android phone, Samsung drops Android for its new smartwatch, Mozilla promises to deliver a $25 smartphone and Sony tries to crack smartphone market.   

Honda appoints first woman to its board and starts making Fit cars in Mexico.

Barnes & Noble sees conditional acquisition offer. 

Apple and Samsung fail to settle US patent case.

Best Buy and JCPenney will be reporting earnings this week, hoping to show signs of turnaround.

Brahma finds unique way to merge soccer and beer in Brazil.

Budweiser launches special-edition World Cup bottle.

CNN pulls the plug on Piers Morgan primetime show.

Ford reportedly swaps Microsoft for BlackBerry in Sync.

Glanbia may be trying to acquire Muscle Milk parent CytoSport.

Jaguar Land Rover presses dealers for customer data.Continue reading...

detroit auto show

Ford Execs' Contrasting Statements Underscore Rise of Data Privacy Issue

Posted by Dale Buss on January 15, 2014 02:57 PM

Ford's CMO said something Snowden-esque about privacy at CES last week. And at NAIAS this week, Ford's CEO clawed back what he said. It was one of the biggest illustrations yet of how connectivity and all that it implies has become one of the most important dimensions of the global auto—and greater tech—industries.

The controversy began last week when Ford CMO Jim Farley said at a panel that the company can use global-positioning technology to know when Ford drivers break laws.

"We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you're doing it," Farley said, according to Business Insider. "By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone."Continue reading...

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