Someone finally does it right: Mitsubishi debuts in-dash slot for Apple iPod nano

Finally someone has done it right! Mitsubishi’s iCar, marketed only in Japan at the moment, features an in-dash “iPlay Edition” slot that accepts an Apple iPod nano, like an 8-track (if you remember what those were). There’s an iPod dock connector in the slot and the iPod nano slides all the way into the slot. We think there’s an ejector mechanism that’ll push the nano back out when you need it, but our japanese is rusty (as in, nonexistent), so if anyone can translate better, please help below. The nano is controlled via the iCar’s built-in, hard drive-based satellite navigation system.

Anyway, our own SteveJack – a man ahead of his time – asked for this a long time ago on August 07, 2003:

[I’ve been] 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… 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. – SteveJack, Apple’s new iTunes Car Stereo should debut this fall for holiday sales season – August 07, 2003

Obviously, to protect against obsolescence, the slot should be large enough to accommodate a 5G iPod (forget about the rumored bigger “true” video iPods, they’ll just have to use a cord adapter) and inserts to allow smaller iPods to fit snugly into the slot. That way, when Apple changes iPod sizes (smaller), a new plastic adapter can just be ordered to make the car’s iPod slot fit perfectly. An iPod-shaped plug with a short cord and a dock connector would be used for older iPods and newer larger format iPods (if such a thing exists).

See the Mitsubishi iCar press release (in japanese) with photos here.

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  1. Cool technology, but I thought Apple locked up iPlay and iCar. Bad move Apple!

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  2. I can’t wait until we get small cars like that in the US. My Scion xA is bigger than I need for in-city commuting. Also, Mitsubishi makes the engine for the even smaller [Mercedes] smart fortwo so their quality can’t be all bad.

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