Issue: Jul 2007


Fiat 500 global launch further demonstrates continuing success of Microsoft and Fiat's Blue&Me.



Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft to Offer Blue&Me Infotainment Solution for the Eagerly Awaited Iconic Fiat 500

by Lenny Case

Following the unveiling of Blue&Me(TM) Nav at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show, Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft Corp (Nasdaq: MSFT) continue their innovative partnership by offering the award-winning Blue&Me solution for the latest Fiat car model -- the Fiat 500.

Today's Turin launch of the 500 will coincide exactly with the 50th anniversary of the original model's launch, which has developed a cult following over the last five decades. The 500 will be made available first in Italy, with further availability in the German and UK markets by the end of 2007. Blue&Me will be available as a standard feature in all top-end Fiat 500 versions and will be offered as an option in the entry-level 500 model at a competitive price.

Blue&Me enables the seamless connection and integration of a wide range of mass storage devices and mobile phones. Drivers and passengers can plug-in their digital music players via a USB port and connect their mobile phones wirelessly over Bluetooth. These devices can then be operated by using either the multifunction buttons on the steering wheel or via the driver's voice commands, enabling a hands-free infotainment experience while safely driving. Blue&Me is also a flexible and updatable infotainment solution which therefore easily keeps pace with the latest market innovations.

The partnership between Microsoft and Fiat was initiated nearly three years ago and has seen the telematics solution rolled out across the Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Iveco and Lancia ranges. The partnership has also garnered several industry awards for innovation, including the "Excellence in Technology of the Year Award for European Automotive Telematics and Infotainment market" from Frost & Sullivan, the "Telematic Update of Detroit", which recognised Blue&Me as the best telematics solution of the year and the "Eurostars 2006" prize from Automotive News Europe. The Fiat 500 will be the latest model to incorporate this award-winning technology.

"Microsoft and Fiat have worked closely to achieve a goal to transform the driving experience through connecting drivers seamlessly and safely to the people, information and audio entertainment they care about while they are on the road," said Carmelo Morgano, manager of the Microsoft Automotive Business Unit, Europe. "With the 500, Fiat is further demonstrating its hallmark combination of innovation and style. Microsoft will continue to deliver and further develop innovative technology such as Blue&Me, which guarantees an outstanding combination of intuitive, hands-free navigation, communications and entertainment features."

Giuseppe Bonollo, vice president of Product Portfolio Management at Fiat, said, "Following our launches of the Grande Punto and Bravo, Blue&Me has been a critical component in delivering competitive advantage and building upon our strengths. Nearly three years after we launched Blue&Me globally, it still enjoys a significant competitive advantage, both in terms of product offerings and pricing. Blue&Me remains the most cost-effective and adaptable in-car telematic system ever made. The launch of the Fiat 500 will be another chapter in our successful partnership with Microsoft."

One of the pioneer companies in the automobile industry, Fiat has produced more than 87 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, including no less than 400 models, since 1899, when the company was founded in Turin, Italy. Some of them have represented milestones in the automotive industry. The Fiat Group's Automobiles Sector operates world-wide with the following brands: Fiat, celebrated for value, economy, and innovation and whose mass produced cars are distributed over almost the entire price class spectrum; Lancia (acquired in 1969) means prestige cars noted for their elegant styling, and comfort; Alfa Romeo (acquired in 1986) is famous as a maker of sport and luxury vehicles of style and distinction; Maserati (acquired in 1992) represents a landmark in the history of the automobile; Ferrari (acquired in 1969), well renowned for unsurpassed design, performance, and luxury, is a legendary automobile that imparts special cachet to its owner. http://www.fiatautopress.com; http://www.fiat.com;
http://www.lancia.com; http://www.alfaromeo.com; http://www.maserati.com; http://www.ferrariworld.com

Since 1995, Microsoft's Automotive Business Unit has worked collaboratively with the auto industry to deliver technology designed for advanced in-car information, navigation and entertainment systems. By extending its knowledge of software for use in the car to Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs, Microsoft is able to deliver the easiest, most convenient and most productive software designed specifically to help people take their connected lifestyle with them wherever they go. In addition to offering consumers an alternative means to experience in-car connectivity, Microsoft will continue to provide the automotive industry with its advanced telematics platform, Microsoft Auto. Microsoft technology is on the road today in 61 pre-installed and aftermarket devices from 18 world-class automakers and suppliers, including BMW, Citroen, Clarion Co. Ltd., DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, NexTech, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo. More information about Microsoft Auto and Microsoft's Automotive Business Unit can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsautomotive.

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