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OtterBox waterproof iPod mini case announced

pic Otter Products has expanded its line of iPod cases with the addition of a new version of its OtterBox for the iPod mini. The fully waterproof case “allows digital music enthusiasts access to controls through a durable, yet compact design providing versatility for active lifestyles,” according to the company. “The new case incorporates many improvements that our original OtterBox for iPod users asked for.” The case features a clear protective screen, is useable with any style headphones, and incorporates cable management on the belt clip. The OtterBox for iPod mini retails for $49.95.

Squid cozy for iPod washes up

pic Mule Design has introduced a rather unique case for the iPod and iPod mini. The Cephal-iPod is a felt cozy in the form of a squid. The ten-armed iPod accessory is available at a special introductory price of $20.

“Your iPod’s glaring whiteness is relaying signals back to the humans. Protect yourself from harmful rays in style with this hand-crafted hip cozy made of (possibly) organic felt.”

Motorola E1060 not the iTunes phone

As first reported by MobileTracker, Motorola’s E1060 mobile phone is not the long-awaited iTunes phone as widely thought. Motorola said Wednesday that the E1060, shown earlier this week at the 3GSM conference in France, was only used to demonstrate iTunes and is not the iTunes phone despite a widely cited Reuters report that said the opposite.

“The E1060 was used to demonstrate the iTunes client; however, it is not our iTunes product,” Motorola said in a statement acquired by iLounge. “As you would expect, for competitive reasons, we are holding information (including specs and design) very closely until the appropriate time and venue for a product launch.”

MobileTracker said the iTunes phone could be officially introduced at CTIA Wireless 2005, which takes place next month in New Orleans, LA.

Mac: iPodBackup 1.4 released

iPodBackup 1.4 is the latest version of the Mac OS X utility that backs up your home folder to your iPod using the open source backup utility called rsync. Version 1.4 brings drag-and-drop editing of exceptions, Swedish localization, and support for second, third, etc. system language preferences, and a number of bug fixes.

iPed iPod stand matches iMac G5, Cinema Displays

pic Thought Out has announced the iPed, a new iPod stand that takes design cues from Apple’s iMac G5 and the company’s line of Cinema Displays. The all-metal stand has a hard powder coat finish and comes in either white or gray. It features sole footing and an anti-pull through grommet design for your iPod’s FireWire or USB cable. The iPed, available for $27.99, works with all third- and fourth-generation iPods.

Mix: Sony Ericsson, Apple celebs, British teens, Merrill Lynch

Sony Ericsson said it will unveil a mobile phone next month that will carry the Walkman name. The handset will reportedly be able to play music both MP3 and AAC music file formats.

Melanie Griffith “threw a tantrum” at a Los Angeles-area Apple Store when she was unable to buy a pink iPod mini early last year, according to a Wired News article with stories of other celebrity encounters.

A survey of more than 300 British teenagers showed that while two-thirds could give the exact price of an iPod, three-quarters had no idea how much a pint of milk costs.

Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich speculates that Apple and Sony could soon form a partnership to produce a number of products together.

Survey: Digital music players take over America

A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more than 22 million U.S. adults—11% of the population—have digital music players such as Apple’s iPod. “It’s safe to say that there are several million more MP3 players owned in the teen world, but we did not survey teens in this poll,” explained Pew’s Lee Rainie.

According to the survey, men (14%) are more likely to have MP3 players than women (9%). Nearly one in five (19%) under the age of 30 have the devices, while 14% of those ages 30-39 have them and 14% of those ages 40-48.

The study also found that portable music players are more common with those with a higher income, internet users, and broadband customers. A quarter (24%) of those earning more than $75,000 a year have them. And those who use the internet are four times (15%) as likely as non-internet users (4%) to be MP3 player owners. Finally, the Pew survey reported that some 23% of those with broadband at home have the devices, compared to 9% of those who have dial-up.

The nationwide phone survey was taken between January 13 and February 9 and involved 2,200 people.

Apple has sold more than 10 million iPods since its introduction in 2001.

Peachpit releases Scott Kelby’s ‘The iPod Book’

Peachpit Press has announced the release of “The iPod Book: Doing Cool Stuff with the iPod and the iTunes Music Store” by best-selling author Scott Kelby. “You’ll learn how to do only the most important, most requested, and just plain cool things you’re going to want to do with your iPod so you can start having fun with it today,” Peachpit says. “Each page covers just one topic, complete with full color photos making it easy to find just what you’re looking for fast. Plus, it shows you how to get the most from the iTunes Music Store, how to integrate your iPod into your car, which iPod accessories are hot, and there’s even entire chapters on using Apple iPod photo and the new iPod shuffle.”

Windows: Memeo for iPod released

Data backup software maker Tanagra has announced an iPod version of its flagship product, Memeo. The software expands the capabilities of an iPod beyond managing music files to include access to e-mail, calendars and other personal files, while at the same time backing up your work.

“iPod users can use Memeo to catch up on their latest e-mails, review notes, check schedules, look up contacts and have their latest files and digital photos with them wherever they go,” says Tanagra. “Once the users have selected what files they want Memeo to keep track of, it will automatically update anything on the iPod along with new music selections each time the device is plugged in.”

Memeo for iPod, which requires Windows 2000 or Windows XP, is available as a free download for a limited time.

Motorola debuts iTunes-compatible E1060 mobile phone

pic At the 3GSM trade event in France today, Motorola unveiled a slew of new mobile phones, including the first music handset to support Apple’s iTunes. The Motoroal E1060 features a 1.3 megapixel camera for still photos or video, a VGA camera for 2-way video conferencing, Bluetooth wireless technology, and audio and video streaming with playback support for MPEG4 (AAC), WMV/WMA and MP3 files. The phone will ship with 32MB of internal memory and is expandable up to 512MB with removable memory.

Motorola said iTunes will become the default music player on Motorola handsets, but that it won’t be an exclusive deal. “We’re committed to have iTunes as the default music client, but we’ll also continue to support other music players such as RealPlayer (from RealNetworks),” said Amer Husaini, vice president for Motorola’s mobile devices group in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

The Motorola E1060 is expected to be available in the fourth-quarter of 2005. Pricing was not announced.

Apple sued by French consumer group over DRM

A French consumer group has sued Apple and Sony, claiming their online music stores violate European anti-trust laws. The Register reports: “Like California resident Thomas Slattery, who filed a similar complaint against Apple in January, Paris-based UFC-Que Choisir claims that Apple’s iTunes Music Store and Sony’s Connect service are anti-competitive because they only work with the companies’ own music players.”

“Apple can also argue that the French government’s anti-trust watchdog has already ruled that it has a right to maintain a proprietary link between its music store and the iPod. Last November, the watchdog dismissed an attempt by Virgin’s French retail subsidiary, VirginMega, to force Apple to license the Mac maker’s FairPlay DRM technology, which would be essential to allow any third-party device to play iTMS-downloaded songs.”

SportRope for iPod shuffle introduced [updated]

pic Jewelry designer Richard Forbes has announced the SportRope, a replacement rubber cord for the Apple lanyard that is provided with the iPod shuffle. The $9.99 SportRope is made of 3mm rubber and attaches with a sterling bayonet clasp. The SportRope comes in 36 or 40-inch lengths and is available in Pink, Turquoise, Cobalt, Cherry Red, Lime Green, Tangerine, Clear and Black.

“The need and benefit of the SportRope is that it allows Shuffle owners to personalize their Shuffle with color and flair,” explains Forbes. “In addition, SportRope also provides resistance to the grit and grime that the original nylon lanyard will show with time. SportRope is easily cleanable, where as the original lanyard may be susceptible to becoming unglued during repeated cleanings.”

PodFas iPod-themed Stikfas announced

pic Following the similar PodBrix Lego mini figure, an unnamed artist has announced the release of PodFas, limited edition custom designed Stikfas action figures inspired by Apple’s silhouette iPod ad campaign. “Podfas are a limited edition of 250 unique handcrafted figures, fully poseable and standing approximately 3-inches tall. Each Podfa comes with 4 coloured display backgrounds and a certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by the artist.” The PodFas are available exclusively from the PodFas website for $20.

Mix: Napster, Marlboro, iValentine, Creative

Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post says the Napster To Go service is “less like a service that allows you to pay to get new music and more like one that forces you to pay to keep your existing music.”

An eBay member is selling a Marlboro Lights iPod case. “Two or more cigarettes hold the player so you can listen and smoke when out and about,” says the creator.

The Toronto Star reports that many people this year are hoping to receive an iPod shuffle for Valentine’s Day.

Discussing Apple’s iPod shuffle, Creative Technologies’ outspoken CEO Sim Wong Hoo recently stated: “You can say it’s cool; I say it’s plain-Jane.”

Apple offers discounted Grammy award-winning music

Apple announced today that it is offering special pricing on all albums that include a Grammy award-winning track on the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) in the US. Starting today, all qualifying albums can be downloaded for $2 off its original cost, which brings the price of most albums down to $7.99.

The special version of “Across the Universe” performed live during the CBS Grammy telecast by leading artists including Bono, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Velvet Revolver, and Tim McGraw is also available as a 99 cent download exclusively on the iTMS in the US and Canada, with all proceeds going to the Southeast Asia tsunami relief efforts.

Mix: iTunes Sampler, Billboard, Yahoo Music, iPod batteries

Apple has released a second iTunes New Music Sampler album. The free 16-song compilation features music from Death Cab for Cutie, Simple Plan, Skindred, and more.

For the first time, Billboard magazine will begin to include songs sold by music download stores such as iTunes in its weekly calculation of the nation’s top hits.

Yahoo has renamed its “Launch” music site to “Yahoo Music” to showcase all its music products and services—streaming audio, music videos, Internet radio and music news—under a single brand.

Environmentalists are complaining about iPod battery waste because of “the sheer numbers of the devices being sold, and Apple’s reputation as a forward-thinking company.”

Apple announces two-for-one stock split

Apple on Friday announced that its board of directors has approved a two-for-one stock split that will increase the number of authorized common shares to 1.8 billion from 900 million. Apple said that each shareholder at the close of business on Feb. 18, 2005 will receive one additional share of stock for every share they own. Trading will begin on a split-adjusted basis on Feb. 28, 2005.

Shares of Apple have nearly quadrupled in value over the last year on the success of the iPod. Last month, the company easily beat analysts’ expectations with its first quarter financial results. Apple posted a net profit of $295 million, or 70 cents a share, compared to income of $63 million, or 17 cents per share, in the prior year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had expected the company to earn 49 cents a share.

Apple stock closed Thursday’s session down 38 cents at $78.36. It reached a 52-week high of $81.99 on Wednesday.

FreeiPods.com loses TRUSTe privacy-assurance seal

TRUSTe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to internet privacy, has ended its relationship with the company operating FreeiPods.com and other websites due to violations of privacy promises to consumers.

“TRUSTe said Gratis Internet of Washington could no longer display the industry’s broadly recognized seal intended to assure consumers that a website complies with privacy-protection guidelines on any of its internet properties,” reports the Associated Press. “It was the first such revocation in at least two years under the industry’s own regulatory program… TRUSTe said Gratis violated promises involving the protection of children’s information and changed how it managed the private information of its customers without adequately notifying them.”

Incase debuts white leather iPod case

pic Incase Designs today introduced a white version of its Leather Sleelve for full-size iPods. The $29.95 case sports a Nappa leather exterior and soft suede lining, and offers complete access to all of your iPod’s controls. The Incase Sleeve also features a clear screen protector and a belt or strap attachment. It fits 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40GB iPods (both third- and fourth-generation models).

The Incase Leather Sleeve is also still available in black, blue and pink for the same price.

Mix: m:robe, Pace University, podcasting, Pepsi girl

Ron Harris of the Associated Press says the Olympus m:robe 500i, a combination music player and digital camera, “fails on more than one level” and is “essentially a shiny brick.”

In an attempt to curb illegal downloading, New York’s Pace University is reportedly in discussions with Apple “regarding an agreement that would facilitate legal access to music” through the iTunes Music Store.

USA Today has a great article on podcasting, calling it “programming by the people, for the people” and featuring several of the top shows.

That Pepsi Girl is an unusual blog “dedicated to the super hot sexy girl in the iTunes Pepsi ads that premiered during the 2005 Super Bowl.”

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