Sonos today announced that its Sonos Digital Music System is now shipping. The multi-zone system features a wireless, full-color LCD controller and accesses music—MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV—from a Mac, PC or Network Attached Storage (NAS). The Sonos Digital Music System is comprised of two components: the ZonePlayer, a networked audio player that distributes, plays and amplifies music in any “zone” in the home, and the Sonos Controller, a wireless handheld device with a color screen and iPod-like touch-sensitive scroll wheel that allows the user to control the music from anywhere.
Sonos offers an introductory bundle of two Sonos ZonePlayers and a Sonos Controller for $1,199. Since the system is scalable to up to 32 zones, additional ZonePlayers retail for $499 and additional Controllers cost $399. Speakers are not included with any system.
The International Herald Tribune has an interesting article on the mobile phone industry hoping to cash in on digital music. More than 600 million cell phones will be sold in 2005, according to forecasts.
Gizmodo has found the iBear, a new iPod mini stand/holder designed to match the five colors of the music player. “The bad news is that all we have are pictures, as haven’t quite determined how to purchase them through the [Japanese] Medicom site.”
The folks behind the Playlist iPod party in the UK have put together some pointers for success at the parties from DJ Lisa Rocket.
BiblePlayer 1.5 is the latest version of the iPod software that enables you to read and listen to the Bible on your iPod. In addition to the King James version, BiblePlayer now includes the Modern American Standard Version and the Spanish Reina Valera. “iPod lovers can now chose from three Audio Bible translations all for the same price of $29,” notes the developer.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced the iDirect remote control for all iPods with Dock Connector ports. The iDirect enables you to control your iPod from across the room while keeping it connected to a home stereo or powered speaker system. The $49.99 accessory features a compact remote control (with buttons for play/pause, next, previous, and volume control) and a receiver that snaps onto the top of the iPod to capture IR remote commands. DLO said this module can also be used by itself to receive memorized commands from any existing learning remote. The DLO iDirect retails for $49.99 and is available immediately.
Consumers should be wary of spammers using the iPod brand name, according to Clearswift’s Spam Index, an in-depth industry analysis of unsolicited e-mails. Clearswift said that e-mails purporting to sell the popular digital audio player made an “unprecedented debut” during December.
“Spammers have been keen to get in on the action with one of the most sought-after Christmas gifts,” Clearswift said. “News of stock running out in December coincided with the flood of e-mails claiming to sell limited edition or heavily discounted iPods. Some e-mails even offer them for free in suspicious-looking competitions.”
Apple’s new low-cost products that were introduced earlier this month are expected to be used heavily in forthcoming spam campaigns. “With the Mac mini and iPod shuffle having launched this month, e-mail users should prepare themselves for an onslaught of lifestyle junk mail, spearheaded by an influx of Mac-inspired spam,” the company said.
Audio Outfitters has introduced two new iPod charging/syncing cables. The iPod ezLink cables work with all iPods with Dock Connector ports. The ezLink USB ($13.99) provides a USB 2.0 connection on one end and a Dock Connector on the other, while the ezLink Combo ($15.99) features the Dock Connector on one end and two cables—one with USB 2.0 and one with Firewire—on the other.
Pacific Rim Technologies today announced the immediate availability of its new Cube travel speakers. The $39.99 speakers, which can be folded when not in use, feature a cable management system and work with fourth-generation iPod, iPod photo and iPod mini models. The Cube travel speakers sport an iPod-matching white finish and run with a 6V DC Charger (included) or four AAA batteries (not included).
Business 2.0 has included the U2 silhouette iPod ad campaign in its 2005 Smart List, the magazine’s “annual tip of the hat to the brightest minds in business and the miraculous feats they’ve accomplished.” The Apple-U2 creation was named the “Smartest ad campaign.”
“Thanks to a smart decision to cross-promote two well-known entertainment brands—a collaboration hatched by U2 lead singer Bono and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who are longtime friends—each side contributed an edgy dose of cool to the advertising effort, which was produced by TBWA/Chiat/Day,” writes Thomas Mucha. “The pairing scored with music fans. Following its exclusive release on Apple’s iTunes Music Store, U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb went on to top the iTunes sales charts for weeks after its late-November debut. Offline the album launched at the top of the U.S. pop charts, selling almost twice as many copies as U2’s last U.S. release did during its first week.”
Ron Harris of the Associated Press says that the iPod shuffle “proves that fewer bells and whistles can be just as good as more” and that the player’s ease of use is “unrivaled.”
MP3.com’s Eliot Van Buskirk notes that the first MP3 player was not Diamond’s Rio PMP300 as many think—it was Saehan’s MPMan, sold in Asia and the US a few months before the Rio in 1998.
Peter Lewis of Fortune says the iPod shuffle is “bound to be a hit.” He says “It’s simple, useful, loads of fun, and inexpensive enough to entice newbies to give digital music a try.”
The Wall Street Journal looks at Russian Web sites—such as AllofMP3.com, MP3search.ru and 3MP3.ru—which tout legal music downloads for as little as a nickel apiece.
Apple is looking for two interns for its iPod software team, according to new postings on the company’s jobs site. “The iPod SW Platform team is seeking an enthusiastic intern. This position requires a self-motivated, flexible individual with strong technical and communication skills who can contribute in a team environment.” Apple said duties may include: development of testing tools and automated testing solutions; prototyping new features and capabilities; bug isolation and reporting; and writing and managing test cases.
iLounge friend and reader Paul Nordstrom August writes from Tokyo, Japan’s Ginza district with this report on the increased Japanese cultural interest in the iPod: “I went by the Apple Store and at 8:00 or 9:00 pm on a Saturday it was packed out. The main floor is about 60 percent iPod. They had one Mac mini on a central stand - it looks fabulous with a 20-inch screen. No iPod shuffles on display, but each staff member had one around their neck… Anyway you may know they hand out tissue packs as adverts in Japan, and I was extremely amused to find this being handed out in Sapporo last week - fantastic!”
Click “Read more” for the full-sized image, which we’ve digitally blurred to obscure the advertised (adult) web site.
Hook Industries has announced the BudFrog, a new iPod accessory that aims to stop earbud cord tangles. The $6.95 product allows you to easily adjust the length of your cords to whatever length you want, keeping excess cord out of your way when you’re on the go. The BudFrog mounts directly to any Apple-produced iPod clip, and also allows you to listen to your music without wearing your earbuds—“kinda like a mini boom box,” according to Hook. The BudFrog comes in several colors to match all iPod and iPod mini models.
Rip2Pod is the latest company to offer a CD-loading service for iPods. “We are located in New York City in the West Village and are dedicated to making your lives easier. For just $1 a CD, weeks and months of frustration will be avoided. We provide ripping services for any entity that legally owns their own music media such as DJs, art galleries, restaurants, or individuals. We have pick-up and delivery service available to all residents of the New York City metropolitan area. We offer a wide range of encoding formats and bitrates. All files are tagged with Song Title, Artist, Album, Genre, and Album Artwork. Multiple options exist for transferring the files back to you including DVD’s, ‘Plug and Play’ external drives, or simply your iPod.”
Microphonesolutions.com is offering iLounge readers an exclusive discount for all in-ear earphones with the exception of the following: Etymotic ER6, Etymotic 6i and Shure E2c. Enter coupon code IPODLOUNGE40OFF at check out. This coupon cannot be combined with free shipping. A 30 day money back gaurantee with full manufacturer’s warranty apply. Authorized dealer for all brands. Coupon can be discontinued after 15 days.
Apple today announced that more than 250 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store since it launched. The company said that iTunes users are now downloading 1.25 million songs per day—an annual run rate of nearly 500 million songs per year.
“When we launched the iTunes Music Store we were hoping to sell a million songs in the first six months—now we’re selling over a million songs every day, and we’ve sold over a quarter billion songs in total,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iTunes is leading the way into the digital music era and together with iPod is changing the way millions of music lovers find and enjoy their music.”
Sega’s iDog is an iPod-inspired pet robot. “Seven LEDs on the face express emotion, while an audio jack under the right hind leg let’s you plug in your iPod (or other audio player) to broadcast through iDog’s speaker.”
Steven Levy of Newsweek has written an article on the iPod’s shuffle songs feature, asking if the process is truly random.
The PDA Guy has a roundup of the top four Podcasting clients for the Mac: iPodder, iPodderX, PoddumFeeder and PlayPod. “iPodder is my preferred option, followed by PlayPod.”
Westshore Craftworks has announced a number of new products for Apple’s iPod Dock. The company said it now has a selection of iDockCovers to fit both sizes of the iPod photo, and is now offering three new electric guitar-shaped iDockCovers available in all sizes. The hardwood iDockCovers slip over the iPod Dock, adding color and style. Westshore also introduced MockDock, a $2.95 wood insert for those who want to use iDockCovers but do not have an Apple iPod Dock. The iDockCovers start at $14.95.
Though the line ran more than a hundred people deep by the early, 9:00am opening of Apple’s flagship Orange County store in Costa Mesa, California, the crowd wasn’t there for today’s release of Apple’s Mac mini personal computer - two-thirds of those we spoke with said that they were waiting only for Apple’s new iPod shuffle. The cheapest iPod has been in exceedingly short supply since its January 11th launch, with reports that hundreds of units have sold out within hours from virtually every store that has stocked them.
Several minutes before the store opened, an Apple Store employee (the “sacrificial lamb”) delivered disappointing news to the gathered crowd: the store had only a small but unspecified number of shuffle units, and each customer would be limited to only one. The store would take the phone numbers of all remaining customers and give them priority on an impending shipment expected within the next day. No such limitation was placed on the purchase of Mac mini computers, which at $499 and up are expected to infuse significant new life into the Macintosh computer user base.
Customers began to line up at 5:00am to enter the Apple Store, but surprisingly, the first five people in line were not all there to purchase the Mac mini on its release date - several wanted shuffles only. Most of the crowd appeared an hour before the store opened, and after Apple announced the limitation on shuffle sales, many believed that they would not be able to walk away with units today, but remained in line regardless. Demand was split evenly between those wanting 512MB ($99) models and those wanting 1GB ($149) shuffles. However, one student and dedicated Mac fan near the front of the line described the Mac mini as “cute,” and expressed interest in the new machine.
No Apple discounts or promotional offers were available at the launch event. But the South Coast Plaza shopping mall offered free gift bags to the first 50 people in line, containing luggage tags and fabric arm bags branded with the mall’s logo.
The head of Sony’s video game unit said this week that his company missed out on potential sales from its line of digital audio players because it was overly protective of Sony’s music content. “Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, said he and other Sony employees have been frustrated for years with management’s reluctance to introduce products like Apple’s iPod, mainly because the Tokyo company had music and movie units that were worried about content rights. Now, Sony’s divisions are finally beginning to work together and share a common agenda, Kutaragi said at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo.”
Praising the iPod shuffle’s “breakthrough price” and “excellent battery life,” USA Today tech columnist Edward C. Baig gives the device three and a half stars out of four.
The February 2005 issue of Wired magazine’s “Wired, Tired, Expired” lists the mythical iPhone as “Wired,” the iPod as “Tired,” and the iBook as “Expired.” Strangely, Wired’s January 2004 issue also listed the iPod as “Tired.”
eWeek’s David Coursey gives the iPod shuffle a C- grade, saying that Apple is “trying to make a virtue out of the fact that the device lacks a screen by making it sound like random playback is an advantage.”
LostiPods.com is giving away an iPod mini to the 500th member to register their iPod in the site’s iPod tracking service. The site will also give an iPod mini away for each 100th member after the 500th milestone.