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ABC News programming added to iTunes Music Store

Apple today added paid programming from ABC News to the iTunes Music Store. The new offerings include ABC News Specials, ABC News: Celebrity Flashback, and ABC News: The Day It Happened. The ABC News Specials include shows on the LAPD, UFO’s, the legend of Pope Joan and more. The Celebrity Flashback programming includes vintage interviews with the likes of Steven Spielberg, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Grace Kelly. ABC’s The Day It Happened features original video of historic events—“live reports and broadcasts, just as if you were tuned in on the very day.” Events include the fall of the Berlin Wall, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and six others.

iHome offers iH52 bookshelf iPod speaker system

iHome has released further details on its iH52 bookshelf iPod speaker system. First shown in March, the iH52 features two stereo drivers in specially designed Reson8 speaker chambers along with with a separate subwoofer. The $200 system also includes a universal charging iPod dock, a 3-line display, RF remote control, and auxiliary input for other audio sources.  The iH52 provides 32 watts of total output and also sports composite and S-video out jacks, Firewire and USB connectivity, and 6 AM/FM radio presets. The iHome iH52 is available in black or silver.

Mix: Stargate, iPod eBooks, Front lines, Sewing patterns

MGM announced today that it has made current episodes of the hit science fiction/adventure series Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis available from the iTunes Music Store. Starting today, the first five episodes of Stargate SG-1 season 10 and the first five episodes of Stargate Atlantis season 3 will be available, and new episodes for both series will be available within 24 hours after airing on the SCI FI Channel.

iPREPpress has announced the availability of 34 eBooks for download onto the iPod. “The books include sports and entertainment superstar biographies, graphic biographies and other nonfiction titles. The iPod eBooks feature the same content as Gareth Stevens’ print editions but with interactive and easy to navigate text and images. The superstar biographies contain hyperlinked text to text and text to images and the graphic eBooks display rich images in a slideshow style.”

Apple to reel in digital music holdouts

Analysts say that the few remaining high-profile digital music holdouts—including the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Garth Brooks, Radiohead and Kid Rock—can’t avoid iTunes forever. With CD sales continuing to drop, it’s only a matter of time until the holdouts get on board, said Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media. “Any artist that doesn’t is going to be left at the station,” he said. “It’s not a secret that growth in the CD market is as dead as General Custer.” Artists argue online sales give them too small a profit, and that iTunes hurts the artistic integrity of an album by allowing customers to buy songs individually for 99 cents. “We’ve always thought certain artists put out albums that aren’t meant to be compilations with 50 other artists,” said Ed “Punch” Andrews, manager for both Seger and Kid Rock. “We’re hoping at some point albums become important again like they were in the past 30 years.”

Sumajin offers new in-ear earphones

Sumajin has announced a new set of sound isolating earphones. The SEP-001 in-ear earphones offer a lightweight design and feature 3 different sized sleeves for a custom fit. The earphones also come with a 2-pin audio adapter for airplane travel, a Sumajin Smartwrap cable manager, and a small pouch for storage. The Sumajin SEP-001 earphones are available in white or black and sell for $40.

SanDisk intros new player, cuts prices to take on iPod

SanDisk has introduced an 8GB version of its flagship media player and reduced prices on its entire Sansa line up in a bid to lure customers away from the iPod. SanDisk, which is a distant second to Apple in the digital music player market, today announced its $250 Sansa e280 player, which offers 8GB of flash storage (expandable to 10GB with microSD slot), audio, photo and video capabilities, FM tuner and recorder, a user-replaceable battery, and a 1.8” TFT display. SanDisk also cut prices on its existing line of Sansa e200 players. The e250 (2GB) now sells for $140, the e260 (4GB) is now priced at $180, and the e270 (6GB) now sells for $220. According to the NPD Group, SanDisk accounted for 9.7% of U.S. MP3 player sales in the second quarter, up from 3.1%  last year.

Apple to meet with Scandinavian agencies over DRM concerns

Apple will meet with Scandinavian consumer rights groups as early as next month to discuss complaints that Apple’s iTunes copy-protection breaks consumer laws. In June, the consumer agencies of Sweden, Denmark and Norway claimed that Apple is violating contract and copyright laws by making iTunes Music Store downloads only compatible with the iPod. They said customers are forced to waive their free use rights of legally bought products in order to download music. Apple responded in writing, but now wants a face-to-face discussion. “They (Apple) have asked to meet the authorities and explain their position,” said Marianne Abyhammar, Sweden’s acting consumer ombudsman. “We will call such a meeting, to be held in Oslo, as soon as possible. The ambition is to arrange for a meeting at the beginning of September, but no date has been set yet.”

ezGear intros ezView case for 5G iPods

ezGear today announced the ezView leather case for fifth-generation iPods. The ezView features a protective cover that doubles as a built-in stand, an integrated screen protector, and non-skid rubber feet. The $40 case also offers slots for credit cards or business cards, a belt clip, and access to all controls and ports. The ezView is available in two models to fit the 30GB and 60GB iPods.
 

Mix: YouTube, Zune content, wiPod, iBall

YouTube plans to provide “every” music video for free on its popular video sharing site. The company is reportedly in talks with Warner Music and EMI. Analysts said the move is a “nail in the coffin” for paid music videos and potentially threatens iTunes.

Microsoft’s Zune media player will come with pre-loaded videos. EMI Group, the world’s third-largest music company, has reportedly signed a deal to provide content from its artists, including rock bands 30 Seconds To Mars and Hot Chip.

No Jobs keynote planned for Apple Expo Paris

Apple Expo Paris will not host a keynote presentation this year, according to show organizers Reed Expositions. “Apple CEO Steve Jobs has traditionally popped across the Atlantic to visit Europe once a year for the show,” reports Macworld UK. “Jobs was replaced by Apple VP Phil Schiller in 2004, as he was recovering from life-saving surgery at that time. Jobs also failed to deliver a keynote speech at last year’s Paris show, though he did visit the event to speak with journalists and introduce to the iPod nano.” Europe’s largest Mac-focused event, Apple Expo Paris will run September 12 through the 16.

Apple posts report on iPod plant investigation

Apple has posted an extensive report on its findings from the company’s investigation of working and living conditions at the Foxconn iPod factory in China. Apple said its audit—which was in response to much-publicized allegations of unacceptable worker treatment—covered labor standards, working and living environment, compensation, overtime and worker treatment. “We found the supplier to be in compliance in the majority of the areas audited,” Apple said. “However, we did find violations to our Code of Conduct, as well as other areas for improvement that we are working with the supplier to address.”

Lions Gate Entertainment confirms iTunes movie deal

Lions Gate Entertainment CEO Jon Feltheimer has confirmed that the movie studio has partnered with Apple and other companies to sell its films online. During the studio’s quarterly conference call earlier this month, Feltheimer said Lions Gate has “deals in place with Cinema Now, MovieLink, and iTunes, with upcoming announcements with at least two more major industry players.” Later in the call, Lions Gate President Steve Beeks said the iTunes Music Store will see full-length movie downloads sometime this year. “In terms of iTunes movie downloads, I think most likely some time before the end of the year,” Beeks said. “We know when they are planning on launching, but since they have not announced it publicly, I do not think it is our place to say anything more about that.”

iPod maintains 75.6% share of U.S. MP3 player market

According to the NPD Group’s latest report on United States digital music player sales, Apple’s iPod won a 75.6% market share for the second quarter of 2006 - more than 65% higher than its closest competitor, SanDisk, which had a 9.7% share for the quarter. Competitors Creative Labs, Samsung, and Sony all came in at less than half SanDisk’s share, with Creative at 4.3%, Samsung at 2.5% and Sony at 1.9%. NPD analyst Ross Rubin attributed the iPod’s success to advertising, and suggested that the iPod and other dedicated digital music players will continue to maintain competitive against music-ready mobile phones based on their superior capacities, interfaces, integration with music download services, and DRM support. [via Macworld UK]

Logitech AudioStation, Express speakers debut

Logitech today introduced two new iPod speaker systems as part of its new AudioStation lineup. Both systems feature built-in, charging iPod cradles and will work with any Dock Connector iPod.

imageThe flagship AudioStation ($300; Sept.) is a full-function stereo featuring an integrated digital AM/FM radio tuner and two-way satellites with 1” dome tweeters and 4” long-throw woofers, designed to compete on audio quality with Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi. This system also features touch-sensitive, backlit controls, an LCD display with clock, 3D Stereo technology, removable speaker grills, and a remote control. The LCD display is capable of displaying a simple bar-style visualizer during music playback.

imageThe AudioStation Express ($130; Oct.) is a smaller, all-in-one portable speaker system that can run off of AC power or batteries. Similar in looks to the iPod Hi-Fi, but significantly smaller, the white unit comes with a wireless remote control and carrying case, and features an auxiliary input for other audio devices, as well as a video output jack for iPods supporting photos and videos.

iSkin unveils limited edition eVo3 case

iSkin today introduced a special new version of its eVo3 case for fifth-generation iPods. The Limited Special Edition eVo3 ($40) features stylings to match the U2 iPod, sporting new finishes previously not offered by iSkin. The dual-colored case features a black body with a new “anti-dust, anti-lint finish” and a red iPod click wheel protector with SlickScroll coating. The Limited Special Edition eVo3 also comes with a tinted, scratch-resistant screen and face protector, and a special black RevoClip2 belt clip. iSkin is also offering a matching pair of Cerulean XLR earphones.

Radio Disney added to iTunes radio line-up

Radio Disney, the “number one radio destination for kids, tweens and families in the U.S.”, announced today that its programming is now available via streaming live broadcasts on the iTunes Radio Tuner. The station can be heard in the “Top 40/Pop” section. Radio Disney is a 24-hour, kid-driven radio network that is syndicated on over 50 stations in the U.S. and in the U.K, Japan and most of South America. Radio Disney is also available on XM and Sirius satellite radio, the Music Choice cable channel, and on RadioDisney.com. Kids help pick the music that is played and interact via a toll-free line to the Radio Disney studio.

Tweeter launches iPod trade-in program

Tweeter today announced that it has launched an iPod trade-in program at all 153 Tweeter stores nationwide. Customers at the electronics retailer will receive instant store credit when they trade in their iPod. After a customer brings in an iPod, a Tweeter sales associate will use an “iPod calculator” powered by NextWorth to provide a trade-in value for the iPod. The customer will then receive credit towards a new iPod or other products available at Tweeter. The value of the customer’s iPod is “commensurate with its condition and its demand in the marketplace,” according to Tweeter.

Teen sued over missing iPod

A 14-year-old Illinois girl is being sued by the parents of another teen after an iPod nano went missing during class. The Naperville Sun newspaper reports: “On June 6, the last day of eighth-grade at Still Middle School, Shannon lent Stephanie her iPod Nano. Shannon’s mother, Melanie McCarthy of Aurora, said her daughter had saved money from Christmas and birthday gifts to purchase the $300 iPod in late May. McCarthy said her daughter left the classroom to use the bathroom and when she returned, the iPod was gone. Stephanie, who had also left the room, told her friend that she had placed the iPod on top of Shannon’s desk. McCarthy named Stephanie in a lawsuit filed in DuPage County on Aug. 4. The suit seeks $350 for the iPod and $125 in court costs.”

Report: New iPod to have wireless capabilities

Apple may soon introduce a new iPod with wireless capabilities, according to DigiTimes. In a brief report, the publication claims: “Apple is expected to launch soon a new iPod that supports wireless capabilities so as to compete with Microsoft’s planned year-end launch of its Zune-branded MP3 players, according to market sources. Apple’s headquarters has begun dispatching its staff to its major markets in Asia, to teach local sales how to demonstrate the new products, the sources noted.” It has been reported that the Zune player will feature Wi-Fi support for sharing music with other Zune users and for downloading music without a computer.

Razer debuts keyboard with iPod dock

Razer Pro Solutions has introduced a USB computer keyboard with an integrated iPod dock. The Pro|Type Multimedia Keyboard also features 32kb of onboard memory, specialized keys for programs such as iTunes, 10 programmable hot keys for storing macros and keystrokes, an ergonomic design, two USB Ports, and line-out ports for other devices. According to the gadget gurus at Gizmodo, Razer also plans to release a version of the keyboard designed to work with Microsoft’s upcoming Zune player. Pricing and availability was not announced.

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