First it was BMW now Ford, Mazda, and General Motors maker of the Commodore, have caught the iPod bug after Apple Computer said it has teamed up with three major automakers to link its popular iPod music player with car stereos, laying down a new challenge to a fragmented radio industry. The move will have a major impact on the likes of Belkin who make in car iPod accesories and radio stations who play music.
Ford General Motors and Japan’s Mazda will offer a 17 pin iPod connector in the majority of their brands, allowing drivers to play their iPods on the move while also charging the device. the digital music player and store it in a glove compartment as they listen to its songs. Users will also be able to use car stereo controls to select music on the iPod device. Apple normally charge a flat US$10.00 licence fee for all 17pin iPod connectors.
That’s a step up for drivers, who can now listen to the iPod via an adapter that fits into a car’s cassette-tape desk. “More than 70 percent of 2007 automobiles will offer iPod integration,” said Greg Joswiak, vice president of iPod product marketing.
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GM will offer iPod connections on all 56 of its models, representing millions of cars and trucks, Apple said. Mazda’s global 2007 line-up of cars and sports utility vehicles will offer an iPod feature as well. The agreements could open new doors for the market-dominating iPod, more than 58 million of which have been sold, and for Apple’s iTunes digital download store. Drive-time listening remains a stronghold for radio broadcasters, even though many automakers install stereos compatible with competing subscription-based satellite providers XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (XMSR.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. (SIRI.O: Quote, Profile, Research).
But an easy iPod link could accelerate the device’s use on the road, just as it has become popular for pedestrians and mass-transit commuters.
“You’ve only got so many hours in the car, so inevitably it’s a zero-sum game for the competition for a driver’s attention,” said Craig Moffett, analyst at Sanford Bernstein. “The biggest loser could be terrestrial radio, because their revenue stream (from advertising) is directly proportional to the number of hours you listen.” GM said it would offer the “personal audio link” at dealerships for less than $160 plus installation as early as October for some car models.