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Car and Tech Driver Meet at Convergence 2000

October 16, 2000|Bloomberg News

In 1998, the last time the electronics and automotive industries converged in Detroit to ponder what gizmos drivers might want in cars, global sales of in-vehicle communications hardware and services totaled $2 billion. With sales now at $4.2 billion and forecast to rise more than tenfold to $47 billion by decade's end, some of the biggest names in computers and telecommunications are making pitches at this week's newly expanded Convergence 2000 conference. Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder Scott McNealy and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and AT&T Corp. chief C. Michael Armstrong are among the speakers. "There's no question that people are paying more attention," said analyst Jonathan Lawrence of Dain Rauscher Wessels. The Convergence event, which began in 1974 and is held every two years, has 176 exhibitors this year. That's more than twice as many as last time, prompting organizers to move it to Cobo Center, Detroit's main exhibit space. Microsoft Corp., Motorola Inc. and Sega Enterprises Ltd. are among the software or electronics companies joining General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and other automotive manufacturers at the three-day conference. The products and services on display--generally lumped under the term "telematics"--include ways for drivers to get e-mail, Internet access, navigation services, emergency roadside assistance and satellite radio broadcasts.

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