Although iPods account for the vast majority of MP3 players, many U.S. libraries are now lending audiobooks available only in Windows Media Audio format.
OmniNerd has posted an interesting article on the iTunes Party Shuffle feature. “iTunes’ available song ratings of 1 to 5 stars allow users to quickly find their favorites and help the Party Shuffle feature play more of what they like most. This article explores the algorithm iTunes uses to pick what comes next in the playlist.”
The New York Times looks at how religious groups are embracing podcasting. “The number of people or groups offering spiritual and religious podcasts listed on Podcast Alley has grown to 474 from 177.”
PBS’ Robert X. Cringely says Microsoft’s biggest threat comes from Apple, and speculates that the company could release Mac OS X v10.5 and load it onto iPods for free to enable users to boot the operating system on Intel-based PCs.
According to the New York Times, two major record companies are pushing for an increase to Apple’s 99-cent per song pricing on the iTunes Music Store.
“Two and a half years after the music business lined up behind the chief executive of Apple, Steven P. Jobs, and hailed him and his iTunes music service for breathing life into music sales, the industry’s allegiance to Mr. Jobs has eroded sharply,” the Times’ Jeff Leeds reports. “Mr. Jobs is now girding for a showdown with at least two of the four major record companies over the price of songs on the iTunes service.”
“If he loses, the one-price model that iTunes has adopted could be replaced with a more complex structure that prices songs by popularity. A hot new single, for example, could sell for $1.49, while a golden oldie could go for substantially less than 99 cents. Music executives who support Mr. Jobs say the higher prices could backfire, sending iTunes’ customers in search of songs on free, unauthorized file-swapping networks.”
In a repeat of the unofficial forum signature contest of last year entries are being accepted for the 2005 contest. Before you go looking for prizes, this is purely for fun - don’t get too excited…
Are you a motorcyclist who uses your iPod on the road? One member is looking for a way to go wireless - any suggestions?
Ever get to the end of the last song on a CD and wonder why there are still several minutes left to run to the end of the track? You may have found a hidden song - read what others have found…
Now available is the seventh iLounge Week in Review podcast, hosted by iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz.
This week, we’ve used the podcasting format to bring you audio reviews of two products: Griffin’s iTalk 2 and iFM, both recorded using a color iPod equipped with the respective accessories. The remainder of our week in review includes news on Samsung’s bid to supply Apple with iPod mini-ready memory chips, the FCC’s approval of Motorola’s E790 phone, Logitech’s announcement of the Wireless Music System, and discussions of iLounge’s new iPod Directory, Blog the Book Contest, and Trivia Contest. Enjoy.
iSkin today announced the availability of its iSkin Shuffle Duo, a new dual-layer protective silicone skin for the iPod shuffle. “The iSkin Shuffle Duo features a unique design that includes both an inner and outer skin that combine to create the perfect barrier against impurities and even moisture,” explains iSkin.
The $19.99 case, first shown on iLounge in March, is moisture resistant and leaves all control buttons accessible and all status lights visible. The iSkin Shuffle Duo features an integrated headphone port cover and includes a custom neck strap.
The iSkin Shuffle Duo is available in four color combinations—Adrenaline (outer blue layer combined with an inner green layer), Vigor (red outer layer with a frosted clear inner layer), Oxygen (frosted clear outer and inner layer) and Impluse (grey with a frosted clear inner layer).
A San Mateo Calif. County judge on Thursday gave final approval to the settlement of the iPod battery class-action lawsuit. According to lawyers, the settlement will allow as many as 1.3 million iPod owners to get new batteries and could cost Apple $15 million.
“All these people are going to get relief, and we think that’s a big victory for them,” said Steve Williams, lead counsel for the suit and an attorney for Burlingame’s Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy.
Under the settlement, consumers who bought first- or second-generation iPods before May 31, 2004 are entitled to either $25 cash or a $50 credit at the Apple Store. Owners of third-generation iPods are entitled to a free replacement battery if their battery fails or a $50 credit. iPod owners who already paid to have their battery replaced can get up to half of that cost back from Apple.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes Apple will ship 7.1 million iPods in the current quarter. The sales number would be a 15 percent increase over last quarter, but Wu warns that average iPod selling prices may come under “greater than expected pressure.”
“We have noticed very aggressive pricing, particularly on 4GB iPod minis”, Wu said in a research note. “We believe part of the reason is that iPod inventories remain relatively high on an absolute basis and this aggressive promotion is to ensure sales in an otherwise slower consumer period.”
The analyst also echoed recent speculation that Samsung is offering Apple heavily discounted prices on its flash memory chips. “Our sources tell us that Samsung was willing to drop its prices aggressively to lock in a marquee customer and win back some business from Toshiba, Apple’s other flash supplier. Interestingly, we believe Apple will also likely source from Hynix, adding a third flash supplier and thus further driving down pricing to protect its gross margin.”
Interestingly, Wu also said that he “is hearing” that Apple will likely source components for future portable devices (including iPods) from Intel, Broadcom and Sharp.
Digiana has announced the Audia X iTube for the iPod shuffle. The iTube is an all-in-one FM transmitter/dock/charger for using your shuffle in the car.
The unique looking device features two flexible necks and plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet. Your iPod shuffle connects via the USB plug. The iTube’s FM transmitter offers a full frequency range (88.1MHz - 107.9MHz), blue backlit LCD, and a 4 channel preset memory.
The Sik din cable connects to any iPod with a Dock Connector port and features a 6-pin female FireWire port so you can charge/sync your iPod with a regular FireWire cable, and a line level audio output (3.5mm stereo jack).
The addition of the SiK din cable adds $18 to the regular pricing of the stands—the Ped with the cable sells for $43.99 and the Ped2 with the cable sells for $57.99.
Sharper Image recently added three new ZipConnect products designed for the iPod and other MP3 players, including two speaker systems and a massage chair with built-in speakers.
Each ZipConnect sound system comes with a universal “play” ZipConnect module with a 3.5mm plug for connecting to the headphone jack of any iPod or other device. However, you can purchase a $9.95 iPod connector that lets you play and charge your iPod through the Dock Connector port.
The aptly named iSphere ($149.95) is an all-in-one three-speaker iPod system that is “ideal where big sound is desired from a small footprint.” It has dual aluminum-cone speakers and subwoofer which “deliver amazingly rich, dynamic, full-range stereo sound.”
The ZipConnect iPulse ($129.95) stereo speaker system features integrated ColorSync LEDs that create a lighshow that plays in sync with the music. It also features dual aluminum-cone speakers. “This colorful new stereo speaker system for your iPod or MP3 digital music collection is as fun to watch as it is to hear,” says Sharper Image.
Sharper Image’s iJoy ($999.95) is a massage chair with built-in speakers and subwoofer that “blends music and massage into the ultimate relaxation experience.” The chair’s armrest has a small alcove for your iPod, and features “incredibly realistic” Human Touch Technology (HTT) Robotic Massage, one-touch power recline, and a built-in cup holder. [via DAP Review]
Apple has added a Podcast Directory service to iTunes in Taiwan. “We are working with 10 radio stations here and consumers will be able to listen to them over at iTunes within a month,” said Yeo Eng Yiong, Apple’s product marketing manager for portables in the Asia-Pacific region.
iPod scrubs is a new site dedicated to sharing small sequential image clips for the iPod that provide the illusion of animation when manually scrolling through them.
The performers at this Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards will each receive a gift bag worth more than $26,000 that includes “an iPod shuffle with an MTV logo, an orange vinyl Paul Frank watch and a glass checker-set from José Cuervo.”
Pearl Jam next month will launch a digital music store on its official website to offer its authorized “live bootleg” series as DRM-free MP3 files.
ezGear today announced the ezShuffle Starter kit, a new accessory bundle for the iPod shuffle that includes “everything you need to use, sync, charge, and protect your iPod shuffle.”
The package includes: ezCharge Shuffle car charger, ezLink Shuffle USB extension cable, ezSkin Tankini silicone case, ezCassette car stereo cassette adapter, and ezAudio earphone splitter.
The ezShuffle Starter kit is priced at $29.98. ezGear said the five products would cost over $65 if purchased separately.
Apple inadvertently sold albums on its new Japanese iTunes Music Store for a fraction of the intended 1,500-yen price. Due to an error, customers reportedly bought albums for 50 yen each.
One UK iPod thief made the mistake of bringing in the stolen device to a Nottingham-based Apple reseller where the iPod’s owner worked as the manager.
Amidst slow iPod and Mac sales in China, Apple has launched a “significant personnel reshuffle” among the management of its operations in the country.
SwitchEasy Limited has announced the PivotDock docking station for the iPod shuffle. The compact dock plugs directly into a USB port and features a 180-degree pivoting design.
“The PivotDock significantly reduces the spatial footprint of any docked iPod shuffle, safely tucking it within a smaller space and minimizing the chances of accidental breakage,” says SwitchEasy.
The dock also features a green LED status light and is compatible with USB 1.0/2.0 ports on Macs and PCs. It will ship next month for $15.99, but can be pre-ordered now for $9.99.
SendStation Systems, maker of the PocketDock line of iPod adaptors, has announced the smartCharge car charger for the iPod shuffle.
The smartCharge features an adjustable, cable-free design and plugs directly into a cigarette lighter outlet. It has a built-in 3.5mm standard audio jack that allows you to hook up any cassette adapter or auxiliary cable, and an integrated LED that displays power status. The device can also charge fourth-generation iPods and iPod minis using a USB-iPod docking cable.
Pricing and availability was not announced, but smartCharge is expected to ship in September 2005.
Fashion designer Kate Spade has recently introduced a slew of new iPod cases. Among the new leather cases, which are now available from the online Apple Store, are styles to fit the iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle.
The Kate Spade Broome Street case ($74.95) fits fourth-generation iPods and is available in black/sand, gold/pink and pink/green. “Add a note of fashion to your iPod mix with richly colored broome street leather carriers accented with just the right touch of gold hardware,” says Apple. “The protective front cover of each case opens to reveal a contrasting linen-patterned calfskin interior. And a convertible leather strap/wristlet makes sure your music is always at hand.”
The new Broome Street case for iPod mini ($64.95), styled after the full-size version, is available in black/sand, gold/pink and pink/green, while the Katy case for iPod mini ($54.95) gets new fall colors, including in black/natural, black/green, black/raspberry, blue/green, and yellow/light blue. “As stylish and colorful as the iPod mini they protect, these smooth, two-tone leather carriers don’t clip onto your waistband—they’re held like a mini handbag,” says Apple. “Classic katy leather cases feature a special sheen that makes each color virtually glow. While broome street cases combine fun and functionality with their contrast-colored cowhide exterior and calfskin interior.”
In addition to the recently introduced Fulham case, Kate Spade is now offering a Broome Street leather case for the iPod shuffle ($44.95). Like the above, it comes in black/sand, gold/pink and pink/green. “Make even more of a statement with your music. These broome street cases wrap your iPod shuffle in a perfect blend of color and style. The convenient wristlet snaps onto a handle or shoulder strap—and adds the clever touch of a leather ‘Kate Spade’ charm.”
Podcasting start-up PodShow has launched PodSafe, a network for musicians and podcasters designed to give “access to music, other content and tools to create royalty-free podcasts.”
Playlouder, an ISP launching in September, has partnered with Sony BMG to allow customers to share Sony licensed music with others on its network. “The deal signals the first time that music fans can use existing popular peer-to-peer (P2P) applications such as Kazaa, eDonkey and Limewire, to share music in an unrestricted and sanctioned way,” notes BBC News.
Warner Music Group is creating a new music-distribution model, called an “e-label,” in which artists will “release music in clusters of three songs every few months [as digital downloads] rather than a CD every few years.”
Macworld UK reports that the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has shut down “free iPod” schemes in the UK: “The promoters of the scheme—which offered a variety of claimed high-tech ‘free gifts’ in return for buying low-value products—have given what the OFT calls a ‘binding agreement’ not to promote such schemes.”
Logitech today introduced its Wireless Music System for iPod, a two-piece accessory that lets you wirelessly connect your iPod to your home stereo system and use the device as a wireless remote to control your iPod (change tracks, adjust volume, etc.).
The Logitech Wireless Music System includes a rechargeable music transmitter that plugs into the headphone port on your iPod and a music receiver that plugs into a home stereo receiver or multimedia speakers through an RCA port or a 3.5 mm jack. They can be used up to 33-feet apart.
The solution uses Logitech’s Music Anywhere wireless technology, which provides “crystal-clear digital audio quality and features adaptive frequency hopping, helping the products overcome any potential wireless interference.”
The Logitech Wireless Music System for iPod will be available beginning in October for $149.99.
SpeakerCraft today introduced MODE (“Music On Demand Experience”), a multi-zone wall mounted interface, that allows you to control your iPod in up to six rooms in your home.
MODE features a color screen with a scroll wheel and push button controls, allowing you to access and control your iPod and other multimedia equipment in multiple rooms.
The product uses SpeakerCraft’s MZC (multi-zone control) system and works with hard drive music servers, satellite radio, AM/FM radio tuners, and any other source that responds to IR commands. According to photos provided alongside the announcement, MODE comes with an iPod dock with built-in IR.
SpeakerCraft said MODE will be available this fall. Pricing was not announced.
Motorola has received FCC approval for its E790 mobile phone, which is expected to be one of the first iTunes-compatible devices from the company. The user manual for the phone, which accompanied the FCC filing, confirms that a mobile version of iTunes will be included with phone.
“You can do much more with our phone than make and receive calls,” reads a portion of the manual. “iTunes is a software application you use to manage the music on your computer and transfer music to your phone. You can use iTunes to purchase and download music for your phone, listen to CDs and digital music, and create playlists of your favorite songs on your phone.”
The candy bar-style Quad-band GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), based on the popular Motorola E398 model, will not be one of the “ROKR” phones, according to Mobile Tracker. It features a built-in VGA camera, micro SD card slot, Bluetooth, and a dedicated music control key.