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Can Apple Make Ford, GM, Mazda Cool?

Apple Computer Inc. said Thursday it has sealed a deal with three top automakers to integrate the iPod into car audio systems.

General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. will offer integration in most cars. The new alliance means the tech-audio gadget will work in more than 70 percent of the 2007 model vehicles sold in the United States.

GM and Ford will provide the Apple feature 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.

For GM, pulling together the deal and platform to install the add-on feature took about eight months. "We were able to integrate the module with some of the exiting electronics," said Nancy Phillippart, executive director, GM Accessories. "The iPod will tie into the XM Radio, which we have in all our vehicles, through a cable."

GM said it will offer the iPod integration as a dealer-installed option called "Personal Audio Link." An adapter integrates through the radio's digital XM Satellite radio band, no activation required.

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