In a surprise announcement, Toyota Motor Corporation announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Twelve Tone Systems, Inc. (commonly known as Cakewalk) in a cash and stock transaction for an estimated $324 million.

Boston-based Twelve Tone Systems is the industry-leading provider of
software for creating music and sound on the desktop, with
award-winning products used by more than 1,000,000 professional and
home users around the world. Tokyo-based Toyota Motor Corporation is
"one of the world's leading automakers", with diverse offerings from
minivehicles to large trucks, along with the Lexus, Daihatsu, and Hino
brands, plus prefabricated housing and leisure boats. TMC's FY2003
earnings were 17.29 trillion yen worldwide.

The combination of the leading Windows audio developer with a carmaker
may come as a surprise to some, but it's consistent with a wave of
acquisitions of audio developers by Apple (Emagic), Sony (Sound Forge),
Adobe (Audition — formerly Cool Edit), Yamaha (Steinberg), Avid
(M-Audio and Pinnacle), Microsoft (who acquired FL Studio aka Fruity
Loops in a story we'll cover later today), and Wal-Mart (who acquired
DJ manufacturer Stanton, also in an agreement today — we expect $1.99
versions of Final Scratch soon).

With the growing popularity of digital music (as exemplified by the
iPod), this agreement is no surprise at all. The acquisition of
Cakewalk by Toyota's should complement Toyota's diverse technology
initiatives, like clean-burning fuel and automobile safety. In
particular, the Toyota-Cakewalk partnership is likely to further the
open-standard Remix as You Drive initiative, which encourages
commuters to create "mash-ups" on the go via beat-slicing controls
initiated via steering-wheel controls and voice command. We've yet to
see a working prototype of this technology, but an early version was
promised at AES.

Cakewalk and Toyota were unavailable for comment, probably because they
were busy pursuing their April Fool's festivities. Full details on the
announcement here.