SEATTLE — There's a little slice of Apple in Microsoft's new in-car entertainment system.
That's sort of like Ford Motor Co. using Chevy-designed fuel injectors on its F-150 pickup.
The technology rivals are cooperating on Sync, which debuted this fall in the Ford Focus. Sync is Ford's name for the Microsoft-developed system that enables drivers to use voice commands or steering wheel controls to operate their digital music players and Bluetooth-enabled cell phones.
The Apple contribution was crucial to make the iPod, the dominant digital music player on the market, work with Sync, said Gary Jablonski, Ford's manager of telematics. Ford acted as a go-between for the two technology rivals.
"While there may be friction in other areas of the companies, within the automotive group they knew the product had to work with Apple," Jablonski said. "The iPod's got to work."
Apple is supplying hardware and software to a chipmaker for Sync, Jablonski said.
Ford has exclusive rights to the Microsoft technology through November 2008. Then Microsoft can sell the system to other automakers. Ford retains the rights to the Sync name.
Sync will be available in 12 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models by the end of this year. Ford expects to make it available in most of its other vehicles during the 2009 model year.