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Apple, 7-Eleven launch Slurpee iTunes sweepstakes

imageApple and 7-Eleven have kicked off a new promotion to give away 8 million songs from the iTunes Music Store. According to the official rules, specially-marked 32 oz. Slurpee fountain cups at participating 7-Eleven locations will have a 12-digit alphanumeric code redeemable for one free song from the iTunes Music Store. It appears every cup is a winner.

Strangely, Apple said that the “Slurpee Summer Prize Fest” began on May 23, despite no word from the company or our readers in the more than two weeks since, hinting that these cups have yet to reach stores. The Slurpee sweepstakes, which should be noted is co-sponsored by Coca-Cola, ends on July 31, 2005. Apple said free song codes must be redeemed by August 31, 2005. The maximum number of valid codes per person that can be redeemed is 10 per day and 200 total during the promotion.

Mix: Seagate, NPR, Shuffle Bus, BusinessWeek

Seagate has announced the first 8GB, 1-inch hard drive, which could find its way into the next version of Apple’s iPod mini. “The 8GB Seagate ST1 Series can hold up to 200 hours—or 4,000 songs—of high-quality music files (128 kbps), a breakthrough for pocket-size music players and entertainment devices,” says the company. This 4,000-song number, however, uses Windows Media Audio (WMA) as its benchmarking format; iPod owners would expect 2,000 songs, instead.

National Public Radio has ended its relationship with Audible.com and is in talks with several companies about distributing its shows. “We have spoken to a number of companies, including Apple, about our next move in offering NPR programming in podcast form,” NPR told The Mac Observer.

An iPod shuffle Bus was recently spotted in Toronto, Canada. It appears to have been completely repainted in Apple’s lime green with black shuffle icons as a large scale mobile advertisement. [via iPoditude]

BusinessWeek’s Peter Burrows says Apple will need to beef up its iPod offerings if it hopes to keep momentum going while consumers wait for Intel-based Macs. “One possibility is a higher-capacity iPod shuffle, or one with a screen. And most analysts expect that the company will unveil an iPod capable of playing video in the coming months.”

Mac: iPod Access 3.4 released

iPod Access 3.4 from Findley Designs is the latest version of the Mac OS X utility that enables you to copy songs from your iPod back to your Mac. Version 3.4 offers Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger support, improved iTunes integration, an updated Esellerate Library, and a fix for Playlist cloning. iPod Access is available for $12.99.

Pacific Rim intros iPod shuffle Cradle

imagePacific Rim Technologies today announced the availability of its new iPod shuffle Cradle. The dock/stand charges and syncs your iPod shuffle and works with both Macs and PCs. The iPod shuffle Cradle sports a matching white exterior and has a blue light that glows when charging the device. The accessory works with both USB 2.0 and USB 1.1, and is shipping immediately for $10.99.

Kensington Stereo Dock for iPod announced

imageKensington has announced the Stereo Dock, a new iPod cradle that lets you listen to music from your iPod through your home stereo system with line-in capability. The Stereo Dock simultaneously charges your iPod and features an infrared remote control that operates from up to 30 feet away. The device works with all Dock Connector iPods (including mini and photo) and will ship next month for $89.99.

“By connecting to the iPod through the bottom dock connector, the Kensington Stereo Dock takes pure, line-out quality audio, eliminating any hint of feedback or interference,” says the company. “Then, the Stereo Dock’s embedded chip set enables users to adjust volume from the included remote control—preserving the high-quality audio signal—and providing total control of your tunes from across the room. The Stereo Dock for iPod is the only dock with line-out quality audio signal with volume control on the market today.”

Mix: Summer school, Peas, Camera Connector, iStudio

A school in southern England is giving away iPods to teenagers if they complete summer courses aimed at helping them find jobs.

The iTunes Music Store is charging a $2 premium for a special edition version of the Black Eyed Peas new album, Monkey Business, which includes three music videos and a digital booklet.

Phillip Torrone of Make magazine has posted an article detailing his attempts at getting various USB devices to connect to his iPod using Apple’s iPod Camera Connector.

The Tribeca Grand Hotel has announced the iStudio, a premium room filled with Apple gear, including a Power Mac G5, iSights, Wi-Fi, an iPod and Bose Sound Dock, and more. [via Engadget]

TWBA awarded EFFIE grand prize for iPod ads

Apple advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day last night was given the Grand EFFIE Award for its work on the iPod “Silhouettes” ad campaign. “Our Grand EFFIE winner honors a product at the forefront of popular culture complemented by a creative, breakthrough marketing campaign that has proven to skyrocket sales,” said Mary Lee Keane, Executive Director of the New York American Marketing Association.

In addition to the Grand EFFIE, TBWA\Chiat\Day walked away with three Gold EFFIEs (two for iPod and one for Nissan), two Silvers (Adidas and Infiniti) and one Bronze (Nextel), bringing their total awards to seven. The EFFIE awards, now in their 37th year, are the “only award program that recognizes effective advertising and marketing campaigns that have achieved market place results.”

ezGear intros ezSkin Bodysuit, Tankini for iPod shuffle

imageezGear has announced the ezSkin Bodysuit and ezSkin Tankini cases for the iPod shuffle.

The ezSkin Tankini (right) is a two piece silicone case that includes a skin for the shuffle and another skin for the USB cap. It is available in five colors—Sky blue, Princess pink, Onyx black, Lime green, and Frost white—and is sold in a two-pack with one color and one Frost case for $18.98.

The ezSkin Bodysuit (left) is a one piece case for the iPod shuffle that sports a built-in metal hook. The case is available in the same colors as above, except the Bodysuit also comes in Grape purple and is not offered in Onyx black. Like the Tankini, the Bodysuit is sold in a two-pack for $18.98.

Mix: P2P vs. iTunes, New Music, Chain Mail, Audible/XM

According to the NPD Group, the iTunes Music Store tied with LimeWire as the second most popular digital music service in March (including P2P file-sharing services). Both iTunes and LimeWire were used by 1.7 million households. The most popular was WinMX, used by 2.1 million households.

Three highly anticipated new albums were released today: X & Y by Coldplay, Get Behind Me Satan by The White Stripes, and Monkey Business by Black Eyed Peas.

The wife of one 4G iPod owner made a sleeve for the device that would be right at home in the Middle Ages—a chain mail iPod cover.

Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said today that Apple’s move to Intel chips allows it to deliver new offerings: “Intel processors could help Apple offer a low cost Mac media center to sit under the TV… for digital media such as photos, music, TV, and movies.”

Audible and XM Satellite Radio announced today that they will co-launch a new portable device capable of playing XM’s radio Audible.com content.

Roxio to launch iPod/iTunes software suite

imageRoxio this week will announce the Boom Box, a software bundle comprised of five Mac OS X applications designed to “reveal the iPod’s full power and potential.” The $49.95 suite includes Roxio’s CD Spin Doctor and the latest versions of four third-party software titles—MusicMagic Mixer, iPodderX, Audio Hijack and iSpeak It—to help users rediscover their music collection and to go beyond it with podcasts and Internet radio broadcasts.

CD Spin Doctor, which is available as part of Roxio’s Toast CD burning software, helps users digitize their LPs and tapes. It includes options for automatically detecting tracks, removing unwanted noise and enhancing sound quality.

MusicMagic Mixer from Predixis is an innovative application that creates “perfect playlists” by analyzing acoustic elements of each song in a user’s music library. The software is said to be able to match your mood with complementary playlists.

Roge Amoeba’s Audio Hijack is a powerful tool that lets users capture and save audio from nearly any application in real-time. Audio Hijack also offers scheduling options to record Internet radio shows and other broadcasts.

iPodderX from Thunderstone Media is the most popular podcast client for Mac OS X. The software lets users easily subscribe to podcasts and have them automatically downloaded to iTunes and synced to an iPod. The latest version, iPodderX 3.0, offers new media aggregation features.

ZappTek’s iSpeak It enables users to convert text-based documents such as web pages into spoken word audio files (MP3 or AAC) using the built-in text-to-speech capabilities of Mac OS X.

The Boom Box will be available from Roxio’s online store on Thursday and will be in retail stores on June 22. The package will come with a $10 rebate for iPod owners as well as coupons and offers from Wiley Books, Audible.com and Belkin.

Apple threatens company over usage of ‘iPed’ name

imageThought Out, the company behind the iPed line of iPod stands, has been hit with a cease and desist notice from Apple regarding the use of the iPed product name. The accessory maker said Apple lawyers sent the letter on Monday, stating that the iPed name could confuse consumers, and weakens Apple’s brand strength.

“Thought Out’s position on this matter is currently neutral with no wishes to construe Apple or any consumer of either product brand,” the company told iLounge. “We simply created a well received product for the iPod consumer. The name iPed was derived from the word i-Ped-estal (with a definition posted on our website - and now the home page). Thought Out’s actions have not been decided for Apple’s request.”

Thought Out currently offers the iPed (iLounge rating: B-), the iPed 2 (iLounge rating: A-), and the iPed shuffle (iLounge rating: B+).

Sonnet adds car cradle to PodFreq

imageSonnet Technologies announced today that its PodFreq, PodFreq black, and PodFreq photo FM transmitters now include a custom-designed car cradle at no additional cost. Current PodFreq owners can purchase the car cradle for $14.95.

“This holder is designed for a secure, rattle-free fit and attaches to a vehicle mount (sold separately) with included hardware to create a parking space for PodFreq while you drive,” the company says. “The cradle features a soft liner that protects the back of PodFreq, and uses the standard AMPS/NEC mounting hole pattern (commonly used for cell phone mounts) that makes it compatible with a wide variety of vehicle mounts.”

Report: iTunes Music Store coming to Japan in August

Apple will launch a version of its iTunes Music Store in Japan this August, a Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday. The Nihon Keizai business daily said that major Japanese record labels, including Columbia Music Entertainment, Avex Group Holdings and Toshiba-EMI, have agreed to provide songs for the service, but that Sony Music Entertainment has yet to agree on contract terms with Apple. The paper said Japanese users will be able to download songs for around 150 yen ($1.40).

New hand-made iPod shuffle sleeves available

imageJocelyn Vilter of Charter Oak Rags let us know about her new line of hand-made iPod shuffle sleeves. She offers a variety of designs, including several jacquards, prints and solids. Each lightweight case features a detachable beaded lanyard. The iPod shuffle sleeves from Charter Oak Rags are priced at $10 each.

Meanwhile, Mercury Software Japan has introduced the iTabi shuffle, a new iPod Shuffle case made from embroidered gold fabric (kinran) traditionally used for making the kimono sash (obi) in Japan. “Like the ‘tabi’ or the traditional Japanese sock worn with kimono, iTabi protects your iPod while ‘on the road’ (another meaning of tabi).” The iTabi shuffle sells for $19.98.

WWDC: Jobs gives update on iPod, shows podcasting features

imageIn addition to announcing a transition to Intel processors for Macs, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered an update on iPod and iTunes sales, as well as a look at the upcoming podcast support in iTunes during his keynote speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.

Jobs said that 16 million iPods have been sold as of the end of March, accounting for 76% market share of all music players. He said more than 430 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store so far, and that it commands 82% of legal digital music sales.

The Apple chief next discussed the previously announced podcasting features of iTunes 4.9. Jobs called podcasting “iPod plus broadcasting,” “TiVo for radio” and “Wayne’s World for Radio.” He said that anyone can make it and get a worldwide audience, and said Apple sees it as the hottest thing going in radio right now.

Jobs said you can easily subscribe to the podcasts and have them automatically synced to your iPod. “We’re going to make this even easier,” he said. “We’re going to build it right into iTunes and iPod.” Jobs then went into a quick demo in which podcasts were shown in the source list of iTunes, and there was a podcast directory directly in the application. He quickly went to Adam Curry’s “The Daily Source Code” and then to KCRW public radio. Subscribing was as easy as clicking one button.

Finally, Jobs said that Apple plans to do its own podcast for iTunes Music Store releases every Tuesday, and revealed that artwork will be supported for each podcast.

Update: We’ve now posted our photo gallery from the WWDC keynote.

Windows: CopyPod 7 released

CopyPod 7 from WindSolutions is the latest version of the Windows application that allows you to backup, copy, and transfer music from your iPod to your PC. The new version includes fully automated iTunes importing, including Playlists, Ratings, Play Counts and Date Last Played. The software also adds an incremental backup function to update iTunes or a selected folder. CopyPod 7 sells for $19.90.

Merrill Lynch: It’s still the music at Apple

Following a meeting with Apple management in California, Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said that despite all of the news recently surrounding the company, Apple doesn’t want to get distracted from its music products.

However, Milunovich said Apple continues to downplay bringing video support to the iPod. “Movies take too long to download for now, are not watched over and over, and that unlike music there are many ways to acquire movies,” he said Apple pointed out. “Still, we think video capability (especially for music videos) could be added to the iPod.”

The analyst said that audio books and podcasting should contribute to iPod’s popularity, but that the Apple executives were not optimistic that satellite radio would take off.

Milunovich also said that Apple is not against a subscription service like those offered by its rivals, but the company still thinks most users want to own their music instead of “renting” it. “We think Apple could introduce a subscription service in the next year, which could be less profitable than selling songs initially though possibly more profitable long term if sub rates rise,” he said.

Milunovich said that Apple doesn’t expect iTunes to make much money. “Although moderately profitable, the company doesn’t seem optimistic that songs will be a major profit contributor,” the analyst said.

DLO Flexible Dock for iPod shuffle announced

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters has introduced the DLO Flexible Dock for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The $19.99 accessory is a 7-inch adjustable USB dock that lets you connect your shuffle to any computer. The company said it’s a perfect solution for those with recessed or tightly spaced USB ports, and that the gooseneck cable displays the shuffle for easy access.

“The DLO Flexible Dock frees up adjacent connectors that would otherwise be blocked by the extra-wide iPod shuffle,” DLO says. “It plugs into any free USB port with a standard size plug, then bends out of the way and offers a super-handy connection port, providing easy in-and-out access for the shuffle. It also prominently displays the shuffle right next to a person’s computer or screen.”

Forums: Brushed steel, iPod as lunch, Lego stands, top songs

A quick look at the iLounge Discussion Forums reveals a 5-star thread that has never been far from the top of the hot topics listing: the Brushed Steel iPod Tutorial. Clearly a popular iPod modification from its stats: 41 pages, 604 replies, and over 140,000 views.

One reader tells us about the loss of his iPod during an act of chivalry whilst helping a young lady with a horse. The moral of this sad iPod tale? Some animals will eat anything…

Need a quick project? Some readers have demonstrated their ability to turn plastic interlocking bricks into something useful. It can be viewed in the thread on Lego Stands. Post your results!

Finding yourself returning repeatedly to the same song on your iPod? Got a favorite tune? Read what other members are replaying again and again and add your favorite “Must Listen To Song.”

Mix: iPod heist, PodBrix, Wrigley’s, Earbud girl

LAPD detectives are investigating a multi-million dollar heist involving 12,000 stolen iPods.

PodBrix and iPodMyPhoto.com have launched a limited edition photo series. Customers now have the option of being “iPodified” along with the PodBrix 1000 character.

One iPod fan has turned a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum into an iPod shuffle case. [via Engadget]

PodBuddies has introduced Earbud Girl 1.0, a new figurine that features a holder for your earbuds. It’s priced at $15.99.

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