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iSkin debuts DuoBand, Slims for iPod nano

iSkin has announced two new iPod nano products—the iSkin DuoBand and iSkin Slims. The DuoBand is an armband/hard case that has an outer polycarbonate layer and an inner silicone layer of protection. It comes with either a clear or pink skin and an armband in black or pink with a reflective strip. The iSkin Slims are silicone cases that come in a 5-pack of various colors. They can also be paired with the iSkin DuoBand. Both are available immediately for $30 each.

Mix: iNES, Apple event, Quanta, Chili Peppers

iNES is a Nintendo emulator for the iPod based on the iPodLinux software. Games such as Super Mario Bros. 2, Megaman, and Skate or Die all currently work on fifth-generation iPods.

While he expects new products soon, UBS analyst Benjamin A. Reitzes believes Apple will not be holding a special event around April 1 to mark its 30th anniversary.

Disney sells 4 million iTunes video downloads

Disney CEO Bob Iger said Disney-owned television content has surpassed 4 million downloads on the iTunes Music Store since videos were added in October 2005. Disney content includes shows from ABC, the Disney Channel and ESPN/ABC Sports. “Technology has transformed authority from the distributor and creator to the consumer. Today’s consumer is more tech-savvy and governs how and when and at what price content is sent to them,” Iger said at his keynote speech Monday at the TelecomNext show in Las Vegas.

GizMac adds new Titan case colors

GizMac Accessories has announced the addition of four new color choices for its Titan anodized aluminum iPod nano case. The Titan is now available in cranberry, light blue, light green and dark orange, in addition to the original black, aluminum, pink, purple and gold. The $40 case features a screen and click wheel protector, carabiner clip, armband, belt clip and lanyard.

Apple: French law will result in ‘state-sponsored piracy’

Apple said on Tuesday that France’s proposed music interoperability bill would result in “state-sponsored piracy.” An Apple representative said the law—which would force the company to open its FairPlay DRM—is likely to cause digital music sales to steeply decline, but that iPod sales might actually increase. “The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris. “If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers… iPod sales will likely increase as users freely upload their iPods with ‘interoperable’ music which cannot be adequately protected,” Kerris said. “Free movies for iPods should not be far behind.”

French law would have ‘minimal’ impact on Apple

The French National Assembly’s vote to open copy-protection technologies on music stores and digital audio devices will have “minimal” impact on Apple, according to Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster. While the analyst believes that the law will be made official by the French Senate, Munster said in a research note that Apple will likely halt music sales in the country. “In our opinion, Apple would prefer to remove itself from the French market than start what could be a slippery slope of other countries passing similar legislation,” he said.

viewTunes Jukebox for Mac, Windows released

Amphonic Designs has released viewTunes Jukebox 1.0 for both Mac OS X and Windows XP. The new software is a “powerful music player that offers a better way to enjoy your music library.” viewTunes allows iTunes users to visually browse their music collection by album cover with a mouse, remote or touch screen. The $12 software also lets users quickly access artist information, concert schedules, and music videos from the web.

French lawmakers approve bill to open iPod, iTunes

French lawmakers have voted to approve the online music interoperability bill that would force Apple to open its copy-protection technology and break the exclusive tie between downloads from the iTunes Music Store and the iPod. As reported earlier today, “the draft law—which also introduces new penalties for music pirates—would force Apple Computer Inc., Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to share proprietary anti-copy technologies so that rivals can offer compatible services and players.” The French Senate will give a final vote on the bill in coming weeks.

Analyst expects widescreen iPod; Current 60GB iPod ‘at risk’

Apple could be phasing out its current high-end iPod to make room for a new widescreen video iPod, according to American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu. In a research note to clients, Wu said that Apple has notified its product distributors that the 60GB iPod is “at risk” until the end of April, which means the device could be discontinued or replaced. The analyst said he believes that a new widescreen video iPod with Bluetooth headphones could be introduced during Apple’s third quarter — April, May or June.

French lawmakers set to vote on music interoperability bill

French lawmakers will vote today on a draft law that could force companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Sony to share their digital copy-protection technologies. The bill, which would break the exclusive iTunes-iPod link, requires companies to provide the inner-workings of their digital rights management (DRM) so that competitors can offer compatible products. After today’s vote, the bill is due to be sent to France’s Senate for its last full reading and vote.

Mix: Georgia College, Shareholders, Do Not Disturb, Inflation

Professors and students at Georgia College & State University have strongly embraced the iPod. “At least 100 of the rural school’s employees are turning iPods into education or research tools — impressive for a college with only about 300 faculty,” notes the AP.

Apple will hold its annual shareholders’ meeting on April 27 at the company’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. Shareholders will be asked to re-elect Apple’s board of directors.

Belkin debuts TunePower for video iPod

Belkin today announced the TunePower for Apple’s fifth-generation (video) iPod. The add-on battery pack, which ships later this month for $80, provides up to 6 hours of extra video playtime. The TunePower comes with two sleeves to fit either the 30GB or 60GB iPod, features a protective case, and includes an AC adapter for simultaneous charging and playing.

Microsoft designing device to rival iPod, other portables

In an attempt to take on the iPod, PlayStation Portable and GameBoy, Microsoft is readying a new handheld device that will combine games, music and videos, according to a report by Dean Takahashi of The Mercury News. This story can be considered further confirmation of a January BusinessWeek article which said that the software giant is “mulling its own digital device that adds gaming to music and video, in an effort to compete with Apple’s iPod empire.” Microsoft has reportedly reorganized its home entertainment and Xbox groups to better plan the device.

Samsung forced to cut flash memory prices

Samsung has been forced to cut NAND flash memory pricing because of “weaker-than-expected” iPod sales and competition from SanDisk, according to a report. “With weaker-than-expected iPod nano sales this year, Samsung has been trying to maintain control over its inventory levels by dumping excess stock with memory module makers,” reports Digitimes. “Samsung is pushing its products hardest with companies that it has close ties with, but other firms are receiving attractive quotes from the memory maker as well.”

Report: Apple choosing manufacturers for ‘iPhone’

Apple is working on “an iPod with phone functions” and could use Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Hon Hai Precision to build the device, says Johnny Chan, a J.P. Morgan analyst based in Hong Kong. Barron’s Online reports [paid sub. req.]: “Apple still hasn’t decided whether to give the contract for what’s being referred to as an ‘iPhone’ to Hon Hai or to another manufacturer, says Ellen Tseng, a Morgan Stanley analyst in Taipei. One analyst in Taipei who declined to be identified said Taiwan Green Point Enterprises, which makes plastic cases for the iPod, is in talks with Apple for a role in the phone.”

Our new News Views, explained

Over the past several weeks, we’ve made a number of subtle but important changes to parts of the iLounge web site. You may have noticed one of them right here - our new News Views bar. Though it looks like the old bar, it now gives you three different ways to customize news on the iLounge home page to your liking, and saves your choice for later visits.

Jabra debuts wireless iPod transceiver, plans speakers (updated)

Updated: Prominent wireless headset maker Jabra has unveiled a new Bluetooth wireless transceiver for the iPod, capable of transmitting data (including iPod music) back and forth with devices such as wireless headphones. Named the Jabra A125s Bluetooth Adaptor for iPod (shown, left, and now in a Flash animation on the company’s web site), the device promises 10 hours of music playback time, but does not include a headset or other receiving device. Please note that this is a Jabra-developed and -sold accessory, not an Apple one.

Analyst: 75% chance of iPhone in next 12 months

Apple’s stock will benefit this year from new iPods, Intel-based Macs and the possibility of an Apple-branded cell phone, investment firm Piper Jaffray told clients this week. “We would be buyers of AAPL on the recent pullback given we believe iPod demand will accelerate in mid-CY06, based on upcoming positive seasonality and new form factor iPod’s,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note sent to iLounge. “Additionally, we believe Apple will benefit from the new Intel-based Mac’s, along with what we estimate to be a 75% chance of a iPhone in the next 12 months.”

Mix: DRM, French law, Gratis Internet, HD Radio

An report says that purchased music wrapped in digital rights management (DRM) technology drains your iPod battery faster than regular audio files.

While French lawmakers have discussed forcing companies such as Apple to open up their proprietary music formats, they have yet to offer an official proposal on the matter for voting.

Despite promises to never sell or transfer its huge list of contacts, Gratis Internet, best known for its “Free iPod” pyramid schemes, has sold 7.2 million Americans’ names, e-mail addresses, home phone numbers and street addresses to e-mail marketing giant Datran Media.

Mercury Radio Research has released the results of a survey of 1,000 people about HD Radio and the iPod: “Given the choice between the two technologies at the same price, better than 50% preferred HD over the iPod.”

ezGear debuts ezCharger, powerStick in black

ezGear has announced black versions of its ezCharge and powerStick iPod accessories. The powerStick ($33) is an auxiliary power source for use with all dockable iPods.┬áIt uses 4 AA batteries and can increase the use of your iPod 3 to 4 times the regular battery life. The ezCharge ($25) is an iPod car charger that’s compatible with all iPods with dock connectors. It includes a fuse protected circuit, a coiled cable, an LED indicator light.

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