General Motors executives expect their
plans for iPod integration to pay off as customers add the device to their must-have list when purchasing an automobile. Analysts see the deal with GM as another positive sign for Apple’s iPod as it continues to dominate the music player industry.
“We found with the popularity of the iPod people want to have their choice of music entertainment while they drive their vehicles,” Nancy Philippart, executive director General Motors Accessories, told Macworld. “That’s why we are excited about the solution we are offering — it will allow our customers to have the full functionality of the iPod and good sound quality.
GM said the interest in the iPod is not limited to one market segment — with so many brand names under its umbrella, Philippart said consumer interest has transcended the class structure normally associated with feature lists.
“We are seeing it across the board, from Chevrolet to Cadillac,” said Philippart. “The iPod has crossed demographics for all ages and buying habits. Our dealers tell us people are always asking about how to hook up iPods in their cars.
GM’s plan of seamless iPod integration will allow the user to have complete control of the device from the steering wheel stereo controls. You can switch songs, artists or playlists and the screen on the stereo will show the information of the currently playing song and navigation. The iPod will be connected to the car through a cable in the glove box, according to Philippart.
“The iPod is allowing our customers to personalize their cars,” she said.
While this is not the first automotive-maker to sign a deal with Apple to include iPod integration, industry anlaysts regard it as a significant step.
“The GM deal is another sign that iPod is more than a music player — it’s a commercial platform,” said JupiterResearch Senior Analyst Joe Wilcox. “Yesterday, I saw a music listening station in a remodeled Limited Two store, for CDs sold there. The music in the kiosk was stored on four iPod nanos, so people listen from the Apple media players. When companies build stuff on your stuff, that’s a platform.”
The deals also show the wide margin between other players in the market including Microsoft’s Zune, according to Wilcox. With Microsoft getting set to release its iPod competitor, getting further support from the automotive industry can’t hurt Apple.
“It shows just how far Apple’s music player has come and how far Microsoft’s forthcoming Zune will have to go to catch up,” said Wilcox. “Right now, Zune is nowhere and iPod is everywhere, and Apple’s music player is a rapidly advancing commercial platform, supported by auto makers, peripheral vendors and many other companies.”