In the latest boost to its dominance in portable music players, Apple Computer Inc. is teaming with General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. to integrate the iPod into car audio systems. GM and Mazda will offer iPod integration on all new models, Apple said, and Ford will offer it on many of its Ford and Lincoln Mercury models later this year.
Working with the iPod maker is part of increasing effort by Ford and other car companies to make it easier on drivers to access a variety of gadgets — from cell phones and navigation systems to music players — while on the road.
”Consumers are listening to music, they’re messaging each other, and they want to engage in all those activities in their vehicles but in a safe manner,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s product and business development in the electronics group.
By last fall, as sales of the iPod continued to surge, Apple had signed similar deals with about a dozen more car companies, including Acura, Audi, Ferrari, Honda, Nissan, and Volkswagen.
The new iPod option particularly could help struggling GM, which has been attracting younger customers in recent years. ”It won’t translate into sales in a dramatic way, but it certainly keeps customers from discarding the brand or its cars while shopping,” Spinella said.