Discussing the future of its iPod accessory line with iLounge today, third-party developer Belkin Corporation has disclosed details of its newest iPod accessory, provisionally titled “TuneStage,” a Bluetooth Class 2 stereo solution for the iPod.
TuneStage will consist of two components - a receiver and a transmitter - which will connect any iPod via wireless Bluetooth link to any stereo system. The receiver will connect to a stereo via 3.5-inch minijack or RCA left and right ports, and Belkin is currently considering whether to additionally include an optical TOSLink output on the final product. TuneStage’s transmitter will attach to the top of the iPod, enabling it to wirelessly broadcast audio to the receiver and act like a “remote control” for the playback of iPod audio, explained Belkin product manager Randall Stowasser.
Numerous design factors can impact the audio quality of Bluetooth signals, but Belkin is “extremely pleased” with the sound quality of the TuneStage, according to Stowasser. It will output digital stereo sound taken from the iPod’s headphone jack, which while not line-out quality is likely to satisfy the needs of most iPod users. iLounge will have photography of TuneStage closer to the product’s first public showings at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show and the San Francisco Macworld Expo next month.
Apple and Motorola could soon unveil the mobile phone they have been developing to play music from Apple’s iTunes Music Store. “We’ve said we have something coming on this in the first half of 2005 and we’re definitely on schedule for that. Hopefully you’ll be able to see more about it soon,” Eddy Cue, vice president of applications at Apple, told Forbes. “What we’ve talked about is a something that is valuable for the mass market,” Cue said. “It has to be a phone in the middle-tier of the market, not a $500-tier phone. It has to be very seamless to use. And we’re very happy with the results.”
Incase has introduced a new case custom designed for the iPod U2 Special Edition. The Leather Folio Special Edition matches the iPod’s styling with a black leather design and red suede interior. The new case features wraparound protection, access to all controls and ports, a clear window for showing off the laser-engraved band signatures, and a belt or strap attachment. The Incase Leather Folio Special Edition will be available at the online Apple Store and all Apple retail stores beginning in mid-January for $39.95.
Westciv, developers of the leading cross platform CSS Editor, Style Master, have released a special iPod edition of their popular CSS Guide. “Featuring a handy overview of CSS concepts, and in-depth information for every selector, property and @rule of CSS 2.1, the CSS podGuide is a must have for any web developer with an iPod.” The Style Master CSS podGuide is a free download.
Newer Technology and Other World Computing today introduced a new high-capacity 1800mAh iPod replacement Lithium-Polymer battery for all first- and second-generation iPod models. The 1800mAh NuPower battery, which replaces the 1600mAh battery for the same $29.95 price, offers 46 percent more capacity than Apple’s original iPod battery. The ultra high-capacity 2100mAh NuPower offering 70 percent more capacity for the same models remains available for $39.95. The iPod batteries include two non-scratching installation tools and a detailed instruction manual.
TechRestore has launched a new repair and upgrade program for iPods. The new program, iPodRestore, provides 24-hour turnaround on service from locations worldwide. “The Full-Restore program ($29) starts with a phone call to 1-877-For-iPod or a visit to TechRestore.com. Once a repair is scheduled, a RestoreBox is sent via overnight courier to the customers home, office or school where their iPod is picked up and brought back overnight to TechRestore. Within 24-hours of receipt, the customer is contacted with a complete diagnosis and a repair price for their approval. The repair is completed the same day and the iPod is sent back to the customer’s location via overnight courier.”
Amazon.com has launched a new promotion that offers a free $15 iTunes Music Store gift card with the purchase of four. Customers must add five of the iTunes prepaid cards to their shopping cart and then use promotional code ITUNES544DEC. The offer expires January 2, 2005.
According to data released by America Online, the iPod, Britney Spears, Ugg boots, and Paris Hilton top this year’s Internet searches.
In a New York Times article, David Pogue takes a look at four iPod mini competitors from Dell, Rio, Creative and Virgin. Unsurprisingly, he concludes that Apple’s device is still king.
April Horace, a Janco Partners analyst, said the rumored iPod with Sirius satellite radio support is technologically unfeasible right now. “I don’t believe Sirius’ chip set is at the point where it can go into an iPod. It’s the size of a credit card, and an iPod would need a chip set the size of a thumb nail,” she said.
Citibank is offering a free iPod mini to anyone who opens an EZ Checking account, fund it with $2,500, and pay two bills online each month for 12 consecutive calendar months.
The California Tree Fruit Agreement and Apple have teamed up to offer free music downloads from the iTunes Music Store with the purchase of California peaches, plums and nectarines. The number of songs to be given away and the size of the purchase needed to qualify for the giveaway have not been set. In-store promotions are expected by early summer. “It’s a little difficult… to sell a message about health, and this is something just a little bit more fun,” said Marilyn Dolan, tree fruit spokeswoman. “We are hoping it’s something new and different enough that people will take notice.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that major retailers are seeing iPod shortages across the country. The paper says that iPod minis and 20GB iPods are out of stock at Amazon.com, Buy.com and other Web sites, while retailers such as Target, J&R Electronics, and Best Buy are all having trouble keeping up with demand. “Given how strong demand has been all year you would have thought [Apple] would have gotten every last one they could into stores,” says Stephen Baker, director of industry analysis at market research firm NPD Group. “I suspect they have. It may just be they can’t build them fast enough.”
Apple said today that more than 200 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store. The 200 millionth song was part of The Complete U2 and was purchased by Ryan Alekman from Belchertown, MA. “iTunes has now sold over 200 million songs, making it the world’s number one online music store by far,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re thrilled to be making music an even more popular gift this holiday season with iTunes and iPod.”
Tune Belt has announced a new “Open View” style Armband Carrier for Apple’s iPod. The $17.95 case fits iPods (first through fourth generation models) upside down so that the LCD screen reads right side up when on your arm. It features a clear protective window cover that allows you to operate the Click Wheel; openings to access the hold button and to insert the headphone jack; a flap to securely hold excess earbud cord length; and a mini pocket for the earbuds when not in use. The armband strap is adjustable with one hand up to 20-inches.
Apple UK is now promoting the use of iPods in the classroom. The company offers several real-world classroom examples that “demonstrate how iPod and iTunes can motivate, engage and inspire pupils of all ages.”
Podfolio is the clever iPod-themed online portfolio of a French Web designer. The entire site resides in a life-size illustrated iPod and silhouette hand that work just like a real iPod.
The PowerPage has some photos of trains on the Tokyo JR Yamanote loop line which have been completely decorated with iPod advertising.
Actor/singer David Hasselhoff is auctioning off an autographed iPod pre-loaded with two of his albums. He has also recorded a special video message for the lucky winner.
Apple’s iPod photo contains updated firmware that blocks songs downloaded from the RealNetworks music store from being played on the device, according to CNET News.com. “The move could render tunes purchased by many iPod owners unplayable on their music players. For the last four months, RealNetworks has marketed its music store as the only Apple rival compatible with the iPod, following the company’s discovery of a way to let its customers play their downloaded tunes on Apple’s MP3 player. Apple criticized RealNetworks’ workaround, dubbed Harmony, as the ‘tactics…of a hacker,’ and warned in July that RealNetworks-purchased songs would likely ‘cease to work with current and future iPods.’”
“iPod & iTunes Garage” is a new book by Kirk McElhearn thats aims to show users how to get the most out of the device and software. The $24.99 book “shows both Mac and Windows users the tips and tricks to transform their iPods into the most useful electronic device they own. And he demonstrates how to manipulate the iTunes digital music management program to make it the most entertaining piece of software in existence. The book covers the best features of iTunes and the iPod, including the new 4G model and the iPod mini.”
The Concertino is a combination of a tube based audio-amplifier and full range speakers designed and tuned exclusively for use with Apple’s iPod. The Concertino is compatible with all iPod models, iPod mini as well as AirPort Express. The enclosure consists of solid aluminium and hardened glass, and its multi-layered paint is applied by hand. The tuba amp features 190 watts of power and the speakers provide a full range system, with ported enclosure and 4.5 in double cone vintage-style fullrange drivers. The Concertino is available in Germany at 3.200,- Euro, including 16% sales tax. Customers outside of Germany should contact Goldster Audio for a price quote.
Toshiba today announced an 80GB version of its 1.8-inch hard drive that should eventually find its way into Apple’s iPod range. The company, which makes the drives found in current iPods, said the 80GB units would ship in the third quarter of 2005. “The Japanese manufacturer didn’t mention any customers by name of course, but having supplied Apple with micro hard drives to date, it seems likely the relationship will continue with the new, higher capacity,” reports The Register. A thinner and lighter version of the company’s 1.8” 40GB hard disk has also been introduced, and is likely to find its way into digital music players.
Altec Lansing has announced the limited edition inMotion iM3 Black, a special version of its iM3 portable audio system designed to match Apple’s U2 iPod. Like the original white inMotion iM3, the black model offers a built-in iPod docking station for charging and syncing, and has four full-range micro drivers and “MaxxBass” technology that simulates a subwoofer. The system, which provides more than 24 hours worth of playback on four AA batteries, comes with a black wireless remote control, a universal power supply, a 3.5 mm stereo cable for auxiliary input from other audio devices, and a padded carrying case. The black iM3 is available now at Apple Stores and the online Apple Store for $179.
iLounger Wesley Vasher has built an excellent dock for his second-generation iPod out of hard wood and aluminum.
Organizers of the upcoming Grammy Awards are reportedly letting voting members hear nominated songs for free through Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
CBS Marketwatch says the growth of the iPod remains the crowning achievement of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ business strategy since he returned to the company in 1997.
iPod and iTunes spokesband U2 are among five musical legends to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the foundation’s 20th annual induction ceremony next year.
iPodSync 2.22 is the latest version of the Windows tool to keep Microsoft Outlook calendar, contact, tasks and notes synchronized between a PC and iPod. This update adds a new file synchronization functionality, new RSS interface, improved progress display, and the ability to write to an iPod using unicode file format.