By SteveJack

The opinion piece posted earlier today got me thinking about using Apple’s iPod in the car. It’s kind of a pain right now with cords, devices, adapters, chargers, FM broadcasters, and your iPod sliding around on the seat or stuck in some weird mount screwed or stuck to your vehicle. Not as smooth as Apple, I’m sure, would wish. Instead of what was described as an “iPodCar” unit in the earlier opinion piece, I believe the description below is what Apple should be working on, but only if they want to make a boat-load of money.

It’s very simple, really; take a current CD/Cassette/AM/FM car stereo and replace the cassette slot with an iPod slot. With a few changes to the display and some controls, Apple would have a beautiful new ‘iTunes Car Stereo’ just in time to roll it out in Best Buy stores nationwide for the holidays. Of course, it would be white with a nice silver Apple logo. Maybe an optional black unit could be available, too, just in case. Or brushed aluminum?

This Apple-branded head unit with a slot into which the iPod slides, along with a slot-loading CD and AM/FM, would be the perfect solution to using an iPod on the road. Neat and tidy, just like Apple and Mac users like things; no cords or attachments and the iPod would have a safe place to live while in your vehicle. This head unit would provide iPod controls on its face, like any car stereo, but iPod-specific along with the normal CD and radio controls. Also a nice display that would mimic the iPod’s display. New iPod’s have the stereo line out. It’s on the iPod Dock which means it’s also one of the pins in the funky new Dock Connector port – no dock needed when the iTunes Car Stereo’s head unit is the dock.

Should I expect it to be able to rip a CD in the car or record off the radio? I’ll leave that to the lawyers.

Even without ripping and recording ability, this Apple iTunes Car Stereo vehicle head unit would be perfect to debut this fall (just in time for Christmas and coinciding with the iTunes / iTMS for Windows launch) – and mesh perfectly with their renewed relationship with Best Buy (someone has to install these puppies).

In addition, this new head unit would be compatible only with new iPods thereby triggering a nice round of upgrades from old iPod users; this is a business after all. Head unit cost should retail for around $499. I could see Apple trying for $599, but not much higher. Of course, the head unit would charge the iPod’s battery. It’s the perfect solution, right Apple? Hope you guys are already working on it.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.