In a meeting with iLounge editors this afternoon, Battery Technology Incorporated revealed U-Link, Tunestir 2, and FM Transmitter for iPod nano, a new series of accessories slated to appear over the next month. We apologize for the graininess of the photos below (and larger versions in View Photos), which were snapped during the meeting; higher-quality images are en route.
U-Link is a “versatile adaptor” designed for “connecting old iPod accessories to iPod nano.” Planned for imminent release at a $20 price point, U-Link plugs into a nano’s headphone and Dock Connector ports, and according to the company will enable any top-mounting accessory for 3G, 4G, or mini iPods to work on the nano. BTI claims to have tested numerous accessories with U-Link without incident.
Tunestir 2 is an upgraded version of the company’s $60 all-in-one FM radio tuner, FM transmitter and in-line remote control, currently specifically designed for use with iPod nano. BTI promises that Tunestir 2’s radio quality has been dramatically improved with a new antenna, and its controls have been simplified with two simple switches and a power button. The unit’s industrial design has been changed, as well, with sleeker curves and a glossier finish.
FM Transmitter for iPod nano offers a unique solution to the challenges that have faced nano transmitter developers: it mounts a LCD tuning screen and button controls on the nano’s back, and uses a spine-like design that runs from nano’s bottom to its top. We’re awaiting further details on pricing. Larger pictures are available at View Photos, below.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that iTunes video sales—including music videos, ABC TV shows and Pixar shorts— are coming in ahead of expectations despite the lack of a large video library. The analyst also says that the upbeat video sales are attracting new media companies.
“Apple disclosed that it sold 1 million videos on October 31, 2005. We are picking up indications that sales have more than doubled since then and that this strength is attracting attention from other content providers including NBC, CBS, and Fox eager to participate in this new market opportunity,” Wu said in a research note Friday. “We would not be surprised to see Apple announce additional content partners over the next few quarters, perhaps as early as Steve Jobs’ keynote at MacWorld Expo on January 10, 2006 in San Francisco.”
Marware announced today that its CEO Classic case for both the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano are now in stock and available for immediate shipment. Made of full–grain black leather, the CEO Classic comes with two removable lids—one with a storage pocket for earphones and one with a view of the screen and play–through click wheel protector. The case also offers a removable belt clip and access to the dock connector, hold switch and earphone jack. The 5G case sells for $35, while the nano version costs $30.
Bose is now shipping the complimentary iPod nano cradle inserts for its SoundDock speaker system. While new SoundDocks now come with the nano insert in the box, previous owners of the speaker system must order the free insert which allows them to use their nano properly with the system. Bose has yet to offer details on an insert specifically for the new fifth-generation iPod. It is not known if or when the company will offer such an insert.
Griffin Technology today announced its EarThumps in-ear earphones. The EarThumps are available in black or white, offer neodymium dynamic micro-drivers, and come with three different-sized silicone inserts and a nylon zippered carrying case. “EarThumps deliver clean transparent atmospheric highs, and deep, low bass,” says Griffin. “EarThumps increase your iPod listening experience by an order of magnitude, and come in either Status Symbol White or Undercover Black to match the newer iPods.” The EarThumps sell for $20.
Apple has launched a contest in celebration of the 100 millionth song download in Europe. “Music fans in 17 countries around Europe are clicking their way to 100 million downloads on the European iTunes Music Stores,” says Apple. “And to celebrate this milestone in the digital music revolution, we are running a special promotion to thank you for helping us make history.” The customer who downloads the 100 millionth song from any of the European iTunes stores will receive a 17-inch iMac G5, a 30GB iPod, a 10,000-song gift card for the iTunes Music Store, and two tickets to see Robbie Williams in concert.
Nike recently introduced its first iPod-specific accessory. The Nike Sport Armband, designed to hold an iPod nano during exercising or other activity, is made with lightweight Nike Pro Compression fabric and Dri-FIT material and is machine washable. The $40 armband is available in two color combinations (gray/orange and black/gray) and two sizes (small/medium and medium/large). Nike is also marketing the case to iPod shuffle owners.
Two more media giants said today that they are interested in striking deals with Apple to get their content on the iTunes Music Store.
Fox Filmed Entertainment’s co-chairman said his company is definitely open to a deal with Apple. “Of course, we’d be open to that. We believe it would be a great opportunity,” James Gianopulos said at the Reuters Media and Advertising Summit.
Meanwhile, a senior executive at Clear Channel Communications said that his company has recently been in talks with Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft about distributing its radio and video content. “They have yielded more discussions,” John Hogan, chief executive of Clear Channel’s radio division said at the same event. “They (the companies) are interested in content.”
In its annual report (SEC form 10-K) filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple summarized several iPod and iTunes related details.
Apple said that net sales of iPods rose $3.2 billion, or 248 percent, during 2005 compared to 2004. The company said it sold 22.5 million iPods in fiscal 2005, an increase of 409 percent from the 4.4 million iPod sold in 2004. Apple has now shipped more than 30 million iPods since the device’s introduction four years ago.
“Strong sales of iPods during 2005 continued to be experienced in all of the company’s operating segments and was driven by strong demand for the iPod shuffle introduced in January 2005, the release of an updated version of the iPod mini in February 2005, the release of the iPod nano in September 2005, and expansion of the iPod’s distribution network,” Apple said in the filing.
Apple said that net sales of other music related products and services, which consists of sales associated with the iTunes Music Store and iPod accessories, increased $621 million, or 223 percent, compared to last year.
“The company has experienced strong growth in sales of iPod services and accessories consistent with the increase in overall iPod unit sales for 2005,” Apple said. “The increased sales from the iTunes Music Store is primarily due to substantial growth of net sales in the U.S. and expansion in Europe, Canada, and Japan.”
Get your creative juices flowing because you could easily win one of several Vaja gift cards just for coming up with a clever slogan. We’ve just kicked off our “Vaja Slogan Contest” in which we’re giving away 45 $100 Vaja gift cards and a grand prize of one $500 gift card to iLoungers who come up with the best new slogans for the iPod case maker.
Simply check out Vaja’s ads on page 29 of the iLounge Holiday Buyers’ Guide, page 12 of the Free iPod Book, and Vaja’s web site to get familiar with their products. Then, think of a new slogan that matches the company’s products and philosophy, and submit it here. Vaja will choose the best entries and award the gift cards. The contest ends December 23, 2005 11:59 p.m. PT.
PodsPlus has announced the availability of its new aluminum case for fifth-generation iPods. Available in black or silver for both the 30GB and 60GB iPods, the case is made from aircraft grade anodized aluminum and comes with an optional neck strap and swivel belt clip. The $30 case also features a neoprene-lined interior, a clear plastic screen protector, and access to the click wheel, dock connector, headphone jack and hold switch.
Elgato Systems has released a software update for its Mac-based EyeTV digital video recorder that allows users to easily export recordings to formats optimized for the new video-enabled iPods.
“With EyeTV 1.8.4, EyeTV users can now export their EyeTV recordings to a video-capable iPod using two new preset formats,” explains the company. “One preset uses QuickTime H.264 compression, Apple’s preferred format. The second preset uses MPEG-4 compression, which encodes up to five times faster than H.264 and has higher resolution output. The MPEG-4 preset is recommended as it provides the best quality for viewing either on an iPod screen or on a TV screen. Neither preset requires QuickTime Pro.”
Apple has accused a Korean music player maker of illegally copying the design of the iPod mini. Iops, the fifth-largest MP3 player seller in South Korea, received a complaint from Apple in October which demanded the company stop selling two of its models—Iops Jock and Iops Z3—because they rip-off Apple’s designs.
In the letter sent to Iops, Apple also asked that the company compensate the iPod maker for lost sales, and demanded an official apology to be printed in more than two of the daily newspapers in South Korea. “Iops rebuffed the claim, saying it is waiting for further action from Apple,” The Korea Times reports. “The Korean firm said that it is expecting an international legal suit from Apple.”
IDG World Expo today announced that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will once again deliver the opening keynote address at next month’s Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. The event is being held at the Moscone Convention Center January 9-13, 2006. The keynote will begin at 9:00 a.m. PT on Tuesday, January 10, 2006.
Apple today released iPod Updater 2005-11-17, a new software update that apparently corrects major issues with the iPod shuffle. According to the brief release notes, the update includes iPod Software 1.1.3 for the shuffle, which provides “bug fixes.” Apple said the update does not offer other iPods any additional enhancements.
iPod Updater 2005-11-17 appears to be fixing problems related to widespread complaints of green and orange blinking error lights and iTunes and PCs suddenly no longer recognizing the device. The issues affect both 512MB and 1GB shuffles. Many shuffle owners blame a recent iPod firmware update or even iTunes 6.0.1 for the issues.
Veoh Networks today announced that more than 3,000 videos are now available for downloading and transferring to the new video-enabled iPods using the company’s software.
“Veoh software, installed on a consumer’s PC or Mac, creates a virtual television network able to distribute TV-quality, full-screen video to hundreds of millions of users with broadband connections,” explains the company. “Motion picture studios, television networks, organizations and individuals can publish unlimited amounts of video content to the network, providing consumers with unparalleled choice in television programming and control over their viewing experience.”
Example content includes “Superman and Popeye, to comedies like The Three Stooges, feature-length films, and more than 10,000 user-produced videos on every subject imaginable.”
UK-based PodGear has introduced a black version of its PocketParty micro speaker system for the iPod nano. Like the white version unveiled in September, the new system weighs only 38 grams and offers 1 watt of stereo output from two tiny angled speakers. The PocketParty comes with a removable desktop stand, and runs for up to 10 hours on a single AA battery. Both the black and white versions of the speaker system sell for $45.
The developers of iPodderX, the popular podcast application for Mac and Windows, are holding a contest to come up with a new name for the software. Over $1,500 in prizes will be awarded to the top three people who submit a possible name.
CNET News.com reports: “Hoping to loosen Apple’s grip on the digital music player market, Microsoft is rallying consumer electronics companies to form a common link. The software maker is part of a working group launched last week by the Consumer Electronics Association to develop a standard port for connecting gadgets like music players to audio systems in homes and cars.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an article on iPod accessories with iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz’s top picks.
Commenting on the lack of iPods at Wal-Mart stores last year, a company executive said they were in a “philosophical argument” with Apple CEO Steve Jobs over whether the iPod should play songs from other music stores. “He won, we lost. Now we have nanos in the stores,” said Wal-Mart Senior VP and Treasurer Jay Fitzsimmons.
How2Share Technologies has launched Flixpo, a new site that offers free video content for the 5G iPod and Sony PSP. Flixpo has downloadable movie trailers, TV ads, independent shorts, and comedy reviews, among several other categories.
“Industry research shows there’s not a lot of compelling digital video content available for iPod and PSP users,” says Colin How, president of How2Share Technologies. “Our mandate with this site is to make it easy for consumers to get high quality, fast streaming content that is easy to access and is already optimized for their portable devices.”
Pacific Design has announced the availability of its iPod 5G Flip Case collection. The colorful cases feature a flip-top design, clear vinyl screen protector, belt clip, and offer access to all controls and ports. Color combinations include black with red and white detail; pink with white and gray detail; red with orange detail; and sky blue with cobalt blue and white detail. Pacific Design said RadioShack is also carrying an exclusive case in brown with orange and white accents. Pacific Design’s iPod 5G Flip Cases are priced at $30.