Contradicting dismissive statements towards the iPod recently made by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates in a separate interview, the company’s Xbox division corporate vice-president J. Allard told 1up.com that the company actually hopes to model its new game console Xbox 360 on Apple’s iPod success, and follows the thinking of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. As explained in the section of 1up’s story titled “Is the Xbox 360 Powerful Enough?”:
“Our initial thinking was there can only be one [Xbox 360 SKU], but you know, that just limits options,” says Allard. “I don’t wanna think that way. If Steve Jobs thought that way, iPod sales would have [plateaued] because there’s a finite market for people that want 20GB white things that play music at a price point that’s above $200. And that’s all he could do with iPod.” Elsewhere in the article, Allard explains that after “lots of color studies,” the company chose a white and metal design based partially on “consumer preference and value. They associate a lot of value with the lighter colors. Most people actually came back and said, ‘This reminds me of iPod.’”
The article further notes that Microsoft designed the Xbox 360 with a 20GB removable hard drive that will permit users to carry their game data (and ripped game soundtracks, amongst other things) wherever they go, with changes to the hard drive a distinct possibility. “Who knows?” the article quotes Allard as saying. “We talk to retailers, we start taking orders, Japan says, ‘What we really wanna do is have a 60-gig hard drive and a wired controller,’ something like that. The system’s so flexible that until we start stuffing them in boxes, nothing’s for sure.”
Griffin Technology said today that its AirBase Stand for Apple’s AirPort Express Base Station is now shipping to customers. The $24.99 product raises the AirPort Express to increase effective range and efficiency. It also positions the device’s status light for easier checking.
“Apple’s award-winning industrial design merits more than being plugged into a wall socket and hidden away,” says Griffin. “The AirBase makes an elegant artistic statement that compels you to display it on the desk, shelf or entertainment center. It offers some major functional benefits, as well.”
Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said today that Yahoo’s low-priced subscription music service could cause Apple to offer a similar plan of its own through iTunes. “Apple could flick the switch on a subscription model,” Milunovich said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “Yahoo clearly is a problem for Real Networks and Napster, but will it hurt Apple? We do think Yahoo’s entry could cause Apple to offer iTunes as a subscription model later this year, especially if there is evidence of share loss.” He noted that subscriptions account for about 15% of the legal download market with iTunes holding over 70%.
Milunovich also said Apple is working to protect iPod profits. “Meanwhile, Apple isn’t standing still,” he said. “Industry observer Robert Cringely examined the new Tiger OS and found unused icons and support of the H.264 codec that hint at video capability on the iPod and an iTunes video store. Similarly, we have speculated that an iPod running video clips could be out for Christmas and that H.264 was important to future hi-def plans. Cringely also believes Tiger may have support for competing music formats, indicating that if iPod margins get squeezed Apple might license its software and switch to software-driven profits. That’s more of a stretch though Apple does appear to have learned from past mistakes.”
Chris Iwanowski of Barking Dog Studios provided iLounge with details and pictures of how the company used iPod photos at recent trade show, Museums and the Web 2005, to show off its website development work. “We wanted to stand out amongst the sea of laptops and LCD displays used by other exhibitors,” Iwanowski said. “So, we conceived the idea of using iPod photos to tell an interactive story of how our web sites are created, rather than just showing the end result.”
“We used a slide show of approximately 120 images and a looping music/voice-over track—all running from the iPod photos,” he explained. “The screen size demanded we make the experience ‘personal’, so each kiosk has a pair of head phones. The small screens of the iPod photos were framed and matted to look like miniature works of art. The frames themselves were selected to represent the character of web site being profiled.”
Echoing comments from Piper Jaffray, Banc of America Securities said today that Yahoo’s new music service will “have very modest near-term impact” on Apple. “The stickiness associated with iTunes and Apple’s hardware has had a protective effect (as they are only compatible with one another), and Apple has held share in music downloads and gained shared in MP3 in the last few quarters,” the research firm said. “If the subscription model does prove to be popular, we would expect Apple to counter and match with a subscription model of its own, which would increase margins.”
The iStore has announced a special offer on the iJet Wireless RF Remote for iPod for all iLoungers. From now until June 15, you can buy the device for the discounted price of $39.99 (regularly $59.99).
“This remote has the longest range of any remote available for the iPod, up to 150 feet,” says the iStore. “Since it is an RF remote, it works through walls unlike IR remotes which are only line-of-sight. The iJet comes complete with a removable belt clip for the remote and as an added bonus, it includes an RCA to 3.5mm headphone cable so it can easily be connected to a home stereo.”
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates sees consumers moving to mobile phones for listening to music on the go, and expects the iPod’s popularity to wane.
“As good as Apple may be, I don’t believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run,” he said in an interview published Thursday in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “You can make parallels with computers: Apple was very strong in this field before, with its Macintosh and its graphics user interface—like the iPod today—and then lost its position.”
“If you were to ask me which mobile device will take top place for listening to music, I’d bet on the mobile phone for sure,” Gates said.
Sonnet Technologies has announced the PodFreq Black, a new version of its iPod FM transmitter designed specifically for the special edition U2 iPod. “This new PodFreq features a unique mix of black and clear materials that harmonize with the iPod U2 in a way only surpassed by the sublime union of Bono’s vocals and The Edge’s guitar,” says Sonnet.
The PodFreq features a digital tuner with LCD display and broadcasts to any frequency between 88.3 and 107.7MHz. It also sports a telescoping antenna, an integrated dock with mini-USB 2.0 and FireWire ports, and comes with a car charger. The PodFreq Black will be available next month for $99.95.
The shuffle products include: AirPlay FM Transmitter for iPod shuffle ($49.95); Car Charger for iPod shuffle ($24.95); Bumperz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/5-pack; iLounge Rating: C+); SportWrap for iPod shuffle ($29.95); Shieldz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/3-pack; iLounge Rating: B); Wrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack); TuffWrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack; iLounge Rating: A-); SuperHook for iPod shuffle ($19.95; iLounge Rating: B-); SuperClip for iPod shuffle ($14.95; iLounge Raing: B-); Audio Splitter for iPod shuffle ($12.95); and Audio Kit for iPod shuffle ($49.95).
Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster said today that he does not think sales of the iPod will be affected by Yahoo’s new subscription-based music service offerings. “We do not anticipate the market share of the iPod will be meaningfully impacted by the emergence of Yahoo! and other music subscription services,” Munster said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “In addition, if subscription services become more successful, we believe that by year end Apple will introduce its own version of a subscription based music service.”
“We have seen over the last two years that the success of online music services is driven by compatible devices,” Munster said. “As a datapoint, despite new music services in the past year, Apple has maintained its ~80% market share in the portable audio device market. In other words, the risk to Apple is a killer new MP3 player, not a new online music service.” Munster also reiterated his that by the end of 2005 more than 35 million iPods will have shipped.
Speck Products today announced “Connect and Protect,” a new silicone iPod shuffle skin with four connecting caps that allow you to “strap, clip, and connect your shuffle to just about anything.” The $29.95 package features a clear skin with separate lanyard cap, key chain cap, carabiner cap, and pen cap.
“Connect and Protect has your Shuffle covered and connected: around your neck, on your bag, keys, pants, tie, dress, scarf… wherever you want it! The rubberized Skin keeps your Shuffle protected—the 4 caps keep it connected.”
Gizmodo says it received confirmation from a Motorola representative that the three iTunes Mobile screenshots it has are the real deal.
Apple’s ubiquitous iPod silhouette advertising has made its way into The Simpsons.
Many people worship their iPods, but this iPod shuffle crucifix might be taking it a bit too far.
Clothing retailer J.Crew is now selling two new iPod cases with its summer line. While they’re inconspicuously just called “MP3 Cases” on the company’s online store, the cases are no doubt for Apple’s device.
The Patch Madras Case (shown right) for full-size iPods is made of washed Indian cotton madras patchwork with Vachetta leather trim. It comes in “Tomato” for $29.50.
J.Crew’s Patch Madras Mini Case for the iPod mini is also made from Indian cotton madras patchwork. It’s available in a blue pattern for $24. Both feature leather-covered belt clips.
Stand Up, the new album from the Dave Matthews Band, is now available from the iTunes Music Store with a digital booklet and a video download.
Yahoo is expected to launch a digital music service this week in an effort to take on Apple’s iTunes. The new service will reportedly have more song-sharing and community features than other iTunes rivals.
Morrissey has changed his lyrics from the 1986 track “Bigmouth Strikes Again
Noreve has unveiled a pricey special edition version of its Tradition Leather iPod Case (iLounge Rating: B). The “iPod Love” case will be limited to 20 units and sports a “heart in white gold filled with diamonds sewn in the leather by hand (44 diamonds of 0,02 cts - VVSI quality, color E)”.
The case is priced at €1,390 (about US$1,790) and is available for 4G iPods and iPod minis. It comes in your choice of black, white, gray, pink, beige, baby blue, ocean blue, or red. Noreve also offers an option to customize the case by embossing your name or other text. The company said it will take up to 25 days to make each case. [via Gear Live]
MightyPods has announced the release of birdPod Maker for Mac OS X, new software that helps turn your iPod into a portable field guide to bird songs.
“Unlike a typical bird song CD set, birdPod’s bird songs are organized to enable quick identification of bird songs in the field. We think birdPod is the best tool yet for learning bird songs… At it’s core, birdPod is an extremely well organized series of bird song playlists. Generated from a large collection of excellent recordings (the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, Eastern Region), these playlists group birds by habitat or family group — which makes the playlists very useful for both learning bird songs and the identification of birds.”
birdPod is priced at $98.95. MightyPods also offers iPods pre-loaded with the software for about a $50 premium over retail. The company says a Windows version of birdPod Maker will be released next month.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes that various iPod models account for 8 of the top 10 MP3 players in Amazon.com’s Top Sellers list for the devices. “We believe this exhibits Apple’s dominance in the portable MP3 market and shows that the initial exploratory phase of other MP3 players has lightened,” Munster said in a research note to clients provided to iLounge.
Munster also commented on Apple product availability. “We believe that Apple is improving production efficiency as evidenced by the majority of its products being shipped on the same business day,” Munster said. “This is critical to the Apple story as Apple products continue to experience strong demand as supported by the solid overall performance of Apple products on Amazon.com’s Top Seller Lists.”
The Detroit News reports that the record label of Eminem has agreed to an undisclosed financial settlement in its lawsuit over the use of one of the rapper’s songs in an Apple ad that appeared on MTV. “The parties were able to reach an amicable resolution,” said Howard Hertz, lawyer for Eight Mile Style and Eminem.
The commercial for the iTunes Music Store featured a young boy singing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and aired on MTV beginning in July 2003. In February 2004, Eight Mile Style filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Apple, MTV and others claiming that Apple used the hit song without permission. Eminem’s lawyers said at the time that “even if he were interested in endorsing a product, any endorsement deal would require a significant amount of money, possibly in excess of $10 million.”
One adventurous iPod shuffle owner removed the outer casing of the device and put it an Apple Sport Case to create a “clear” iPod shuffle.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs says he is not tied to the 99 cent download structure for iTunes, but that there’s no reason right now to offer other services such as a subscription option. “We’re not religious on this, but there’s no evidence people want [other models],” he says.
LuxPro’s Super Tangent iPod clone is apparently now in stores in Asia, with the 512MB model selling for 8980 Yen, or about US$85. Unsurprisingly, it’s packaged in a similar way as the iPod shuffle.
Terrill Dent has created an iPod skin for the Windows version of MSN Messenger.
SendStation Systems has expanded its iPod adapter lineup with the introduction of the PocketDock Line Out USB. It features a USB 1.1/2.0 port for charging and syncing as well as a 3.5 mm (1/8”) jack that offers stereo line out from your iPod. PocketDock Line Out USB is compatible with all Dock Connector iPods, and ships with two 6 ft. white audio cables for $29.95.
SendStation has also announced a detachable Keyring Dock which protects the Dock Connector and allows customers to always carry a PocketDock with them on their keyring. The PocketDock Line Out USB is the first PocketDock to sport the Keyring Dock. The company said existing models will be upgraded over time. Users who already own a PocketDock can upgrade theirs with a set of three Keyring Docks for $1.98.