Apple on Thursday announced partnerships with Ford, General Motors and Mazda to deliver seamless iPod integration to the majority of their brands and models. According to Apple with this announcement 70 percent of 2007-model US automobiles will offer iPod integration.
“This is a very broad announcement,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing, told Macworld. “For GM it’s their entire line-up — that’s millions of cars.”
Ford and General Motors will feature iPod integration in the majority of their 2007 models in the US beginning later this year, while Mazda’s entire global 2007 lineup of cars and SUVs will offer iPod connectivity.
Apple now has deals with most of the world’s top brands including luxury cars like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and Infiniti, not to mention Ferrari. As customers shop for a new vehicle, how much does iPod integration affect their buying decision? According to Apple, the fact that so many car companies have signed on to work with them says it all.
“It has a big effect,” said Joswiak. “Think about how fast car companies have moved in this direction — both car companies and customers see this as the future of audio in the car.”
There is a marked difference between seamless iPod integration and having your iPod play through an FM station or cassette adapter. Apple explained that seamless iPod integration means that users can utilize their car’s multifunction controls to select their music using artist, album, playlist or shuffle songs, as well as to easily skip between tracks and playlists.
The domination of the automobile music market could have a positive impact on iPod sales as consumers buy additional units to have in their car at all times. While Apple admits that could be the case, they point to the iPods mobility as its true advantage.
“I think that some people do that, but the great part about the iPod is that you can take it with you — that’s the beauty of what we’ve engineered,” said Joswiak. “We like to think these cars are the best accessories you can get for your iPod.”
Update: Added information from an interview with Apple executive. 10:32 am 8/3/06