I couldn't help myself with the catchy headline this time. Hey. It's hot and I'm feely punchy. So, the lowdown is that GM, Ford, and Mazda are apparently going to be iPod friendly. According to CNET's Kevin Massy:
Apple is teaming up with GM, Ford, and Mazda to offer iPod integration in those manufacturers' vehicles for the 2007 model year. The partnerships--announced to CNET Car Tech this morning by Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of worldwide iPod product marketing--will mean that iPod connectors will come as options on all 56 GM models, all Mazda models, and most Ford models.
GM and Ford are expected to begin offering iPod support on their U.S. models later this year, while Mazda will offer integration on its entire global 2007 lineup. The new partnerships mean that iPod integration will be available in 70 percent of new vehicles in the United States for the 2007 model year, according to Joswiak, who said that iPod integration represented the "natural progression of audio in cars."
As with existing iPod partners, such as BMW and Acura, the new partners will offer glove box-mounted connectors to enable iPods to be simultaneously charged and navigated and controlled via the car's stereo or steering wheel buttons.
To folks like me that oppose the proliferation of digital rights management technologies (DRM) into the marketplace, this is devastating news. Given the the obvious sense it makes to be able to consume MP3-player bound audio in a car, this move by the three auto manufacturers practically annoints Apple's DRM (known as FairPlay) as the undisputed DRM king. As you probably know by now, I have a different name for DRM. I call it CRAP which stands for Cancellation, Restriction, and Punishment (ever since the Free Sofware Foundation's Richard Stallman helped to redefine it). For more about CRAP, see CRAP, The Movie and CRAP, The Sequel. Anyway, it's bad enough that so many people are walking around with some CRAP in their pockets. Now, they'll have CRAP in their glove boxes too. Pretty soon, CRAP'll be everywhere. Like on your soda.
And, yes, as if the news couldn't get any worse, the Register reported:
Coca-Cola has teamed up with Apple to launch a new European music website, after declining sales recently caused it to close its own MyCokeMusic website....The new site will be launched in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with the roll out beginning next week. The launches will be accompanied by live music events, podcasts of which will be available on the new site....The partnership with Apple forms part of a new music strategy for Coca-Cola, which just weeks ago closed down its own online music store. iTunes' dominance in the online music market in Europe was cited as one of the main reasons for the failure of MyCokeMusic.com...As part of the partnership with Apple, Coca-Cola is planning a song giveaway on its products, with millions of iTunes music tracks up for grabs during the promotion.
So, "song giveaway" is what triggered my use of "soak" in the this post's headline. Apple and Coke would like you to think your getting an amazing deal by getting songs normally valued at 99 cents for free. But alas, all is not as it seems. To play those songs back, you MUST have an iPod or iTunes. In other words, as the market soaks up the supposedly free music, it will either stimulate the sales of more iPods (to play the music back) or, it will make it even more difficult for existing iPod owners to switch to a different technology since it would force them to also part with their freely growing (with purchases of Coke products) music collections.
All of this demand creation for the iPod couldn't come at a worse time for a market that, at the very least needs at least one other really strong offering to bifurcate the market in a way that could make it come to its senses and demand a standard. Microsoft was in that role until it very recently thrust its entire music strategy into a big question mark when it announced Zune (Update: Napster, one service that partially depends on Microsoft's strategy for music because of the way it's a Microsoft PlaysForSure-compliant music source, looks to be in serious trouble right now -- reflecting poorly on the strength of the PlaysForSure brand). If your Ford, GM, Mazda, or Coke, all that uncertainty around the Microsoft camp makes it much easier to just go with Apple which has been unwaivering in its strategy. Game over now that Apple has these conglomerate partners? Could be.