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Fox, Clear Channel eye iTunes distribution deals

Two more media giants said today that they are interested in striking deals with Apple to get their content on the iTunes Music Store.

Fox Filmed Entertainment’s co-chairman said his company is definitely open to a deal with Apple. “Of course, we’d be open to that. We believe it would be a great opportunity,” James Gianopulos said at the Reuters Media and Advertising Summit.

Meanwhile, a senior executive at Clear Channel Communications said that his company has recently been in talks with Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft about distributing its radio and video content. “They have yielded more discussions,” John Hogan, chief executive of Clear Channel’s radio division said at the same event. “They (the companies) are interested in content.”

Apple details iPod sales in annual report

In its annual report (SEC form 10-K) filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple summarized several iPod and iTunes related details.

Apple said that net sales of iPods rose $3.2 billion, or 248 percent, during 2005 compared to 2004. The company said it sold 22.5 million iPods in fiscal 2005, an increase of 409 percent from the 4.4 million iPod sold in 2004. Apple has now shipped more than 30 million iPods since the device’s introduction four years ago.

“Strong sales of iPods during 2005 continued to be experienced in all of the company’s operating segments and was driven by strong demand for the iPod shuffle introduced in January 2005, the release of an updated version of the iPod mini in February 2005, the release of the iPod nano in September 2005, and expansion of the iPod’s distribution network,” Apple said in the filing.

Apple said that net sales of other music related products and services, which consists of sales associated with the iTunes Music Store and iPod accessories, increased $621 million, or 223 percent, compared to last year.

“The company has experienced strong growth in sales of iPod services and accessories consistent with the increase in overall iPod unit sales for 2005,” Apple said. “The increased sales from the iTunes Music Store is primarily due to substantial growth of net sales in the U.S. and expansion in Europe, Canada, and Japan.”

Vaja and iLounge giving away $5000 in Vaja gift cards

imageGet your creative juices flowing because you could easily win one of several Vaja gift cards just for coming up with a clever slogan. We’ve just kicked off our “Vaja Slogan Contest” in which we’re giving away 45 $100 Vaja gift cards and a grand prize of one $500 gift card to iLoungers who come up with the best new slogans for the iPod case maker.

Simply check out Vaja’s ads on page 29 of the iLounge Holiday Buyers’ Guide, page 12 of the Free iPod Book, and Vaja’s web site to get familiar with their products. Then, think of a new slogan that matches the company’s products and philosophy, and submit it here. Vaja will choose the best entries and award the gift cards. The contest ends December 23, 2005 11:59 p.m. PT.

PodsPlus debuts aluminum case for 5G iPods

imagePodsPlus has announced the availability of its new aluminum case for fifth-generation iPods. Available in black or silver for both the 30GB and 60GB iPods, the case is made from aircraft grade anodized aluminum and comes with an optional neck strap and swivel belt clip. The $30 case also features a neoprene-lined interior, a clear plastic screen protector, and access to the click wheel, dock connector, headphone jack and hold switch.

EyeTV update adds one-step export to video iPods

Elgato Systems has released a software update for its Mac-based EyeTV digital video recorder that allows users to easily export recordings to formats optimized for the new video-enabled iPods.

“With EyeTV 1.8.4, EyeTV users can now export their EyeTV recordings to a video-capable iPod using two new preset formats,” explains the company. “One preset uses QuickTime H.264 compression, Apple’s preferred format. The second preset uses MPEG-4 compression, which encodes up to five times faster than H.264 and has higher resolution output. The MPEG-4 preset is recommended as it provides the best quality for viewing either on an iPod screen or on a TV screen. Neither preset requires QuickTime Pro.”

Apple threatens Korean company over iPod knockoffs

imageApple has accused a Korean music player maker of illegally copying the design of the iPod mini. Iops, the fifth-largest MP3 player seller in South Korea, received a complaint from Apple in October which demanded the company stop selling two of its models—Iops Jock and Iops Z3—because they rip-off Apple’s designs.

In the letter sent to Iops, Apple also asked that the company compensate the iPod maker for lost sales, and demanded an official apology to be printed in more than two of the daily newspapers in South Korea. “Iops rebuffed the claim, saying it is waiting for further action from Apple,” The Korea Times reports. “The Korean firm said that it is expecting an international legal suit from Apple.”

Steve Jobs to kick off Macworld Expo with keynote

IDG World Expo today announced that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will once again deliver the opening keynote address at next month’s Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. The event is being held at the Moscone Convention Center January 9-13, 2006. The keynote will begin at 9:00 a.m. PT on Tuesday, January 10, 2006.

Software update fixes iPod shuffle bugs

Apple today released iPod Updater 2005-11-17, a new software update that apparently corrects major issues with the iPod shuffle. According to the brief release notes, the update includes iPod Software 1.1.3 for the shuffle, which provides “bug fixes.” Apple said the update does not offer other iPods any additional enhancements.

iPod Updater 2005-11-17 appears to be fixing problems related to widespread complaints of green and orange blinking error lights and iTunes and PCs suddenly no longer recognizing the device. The issues affect both 512MB and 1GB shuffles. Many shuffle owners blame a recent iPod firmware update or even iTunes 6.0.1 for the issues.

Veoh offers over 3,000 videos for new iPods

Veoh Networks today announced that more than 3,000 videos are now available for downloading and transferring to the new video-enabled iPods using the company’s software.

“Veoh software, installed on a consumer’s PC or Mac, creates a virtual television network able to distribute TV-quality, full-screen video to hundreds of millions of users with broadband connections,” explains the company. “Motion picture studios, television networks, organizations and individuals can publish unlimited amounts of video content to the network, providing consumers with unparalleled choice in television programming and control over their viewing experience.”

Example content includes “Superman and Popeye, to comedies like The Three Stooges, feature-length films, and more than 10,000 user-produced videos on every subject imaginable.”

PodGear offers black PocketParty for iPod nano

imageUK-based PodGear has introduced a black version of its PocketParty micro speaker system for the iPod nano. Like the white version unveiled in September, the new system weighs only 38 grams and offers 1 watt of stereo output from two tiny angled speakers. The PocketParty comes with a removable desktop stand, and runs for up to 10 hours on a single AA battery. Both the black and white versions of the speaker system sell for $45.


Mix: iPodderX, Standard port, Top picks, Wal-Mart

The developers of iPodderX, the popular podcast application for Mac and Windows, are holding a contest to come up with a new name for the software. Over $1,500 in prizes will be awarded to the top three people who submit a possible name.

CNET News.com reports: “Hoping to loosen Apple’s grip on the digital music player market, Microsoft is rallying consumer electronics companies to form a common link. The software maker is part of a working group launched last week by the Consumer Electronics Association to develop a standard port for connecting gadgets like music players to audio systems in homes and cars.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an article on iPod accessories with iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz’s top picks.

Commenting on the lack of iPods at Wal-Mart stores last year, a company executive said they were in a “philosophical argument” with Apple CEO Steve Jobs over whether the iPod should play songs from other music stores. “He won, we lost. Now we have nanos in the stores,” said Wal-Mart Senior VP and Treasurer Jay Fitzsimmons.

Flixpo offers free video content for iPod

How2Share Technologies has launched Flixpo, a new site that offers free video content for the 5G iPod and Sony PSP. Flixpo has downloadable movie trailers, TV ads, independent shorts, and comedy reviews, among several other categories.

“Industry research shows there’s not a lot of compelling digital video content available for iPod and PSP users,” says Colin How, president of How2Share Technologies. “Our mandate with this site is to make it easy for consumers to get high quality, fast streaming content that is easy to access and is already optimized for their portable devices.”

Pacific Design offers iPod 5G Flip cases

imagePacific Design has announced the availability of its iPod 5G Flip Case collection. The colorful cases feature a flip-top design, clear vinyl screen protector, belt clip, and offer access to all controls and ports. Color combinations include black with red and white detail; pink with white and gray detail; red with orange detail; and sky blue with cobalt blue and white detail. Pacific Design said RadioShack is also carrying an exclusive case in brown with orange and white accents. Pacific Design’s iPod 5G Flip Cases are priced at $30.

Griffin announces TuneBuds for iPod shuffle

imageGriffin Technology today announced TuneBuds, a combination earbud and lanyard for the iPod shuffle. First shown in the iLounge Holiday Buyers’ Guide, the accessory is available now for $20.

“TuneBuds keep both the earbuds and shuffle handy around the wearer’s neck,” says Griffin. “Just snap TuneBuds onto the shuffle’s USB connector, and you’re up and running (or dancing). TuneBuds’ audio cable, integrated into the lanyard, keeps you free of excess cords and tangled lines. TuneBuds make no compromise on sound quality. The comfortable earbuds supply superb audio to please the most discerning listener.”

XtremeMac debuts MicroShield for 5G iPod

imageXtremeMac tomorrow will announce a new version of its MicroShield for the fifth-generation iPod. The clear hard case features a two-piece design that snaps onto the front and back of the iPod, offering protection for the body and screen of the device while providing access to the click wheel, dock connector and earphone jack. The $25 case comes with one front and two rear panels—one with an integrated belt clip, and one without. The MicroShield will be available in 30GB and 60GB models to accommodate both sizes of the new iPod. The case will be available in stores and online in one to two weeks, according to XtremeMac.

Tekserve announces grand opening of iTopia

Tekserve, a large independent Apple Specialist in New York City, has announced the grand opening of iTopia, a store-within-a-store dedicated to iPods and iPod accessories.

“iTopia offers Tekserve customers a one-stop shop to purchase everything for their iPod,” explains the store. “It features the largest selection of iPod accessories under one roof in New York, from carrying cases to headphones to speakers to car adapters and much more. Customers can try out many of the latest products and find the best accessories for their needs by speaking with Tekserve’s knowledgeable sales staff.”

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DLO intros Fling fashion cases for iPod nano

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced the DLO nano Fling fashion cases for Apple’s iPod nano. Targeted at women, the cases feature a removable wristlet strap, a padded flip-up cover with a cosmetic mirror, earphone storage loop, and come in metallic pink and metallic silver. The DLO nano Flings are priced at $30 and are available from DLO’s website and Apple retail stores.

Analyst: 2GB iPod nano now outselling 4GB model

Apple’s 4GB iPod nano, which was widely seen as the best-selling iPod since its introduction, is apparently now being outsold by its lower-capacity sibling. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that Apple is benefiting from better than expected sales of 2GB iPod nanos during the holiday shopping season. The analyst said in a research note today that shoppers are appearing to be swayed by the device’s $199 price tag.

“We believe a surge in demand for 2GB iPod nanos at $199 may surprise most iPod followers,” Wu wrote in the report. “This is because in the first several weeks of iPod nano, 4GB models, particularly black colored ones, were outselling the 2GBs and white 4GB nanos by a wide margin. Since then we believe Apple’s bet on a $199 price point has paid off (like it did with the $199 4GB iPod mini) as it built more of these models (and with better margins versus the $249 4GB nanos) as it appears that holiday shoppers (particularly first-time iPod buyers) are more concerned with the price point as opposed to the storage capacity. Demand for the $249 4GB nanos remains strong but appears to be outpaced by its lower-priced, and lower capacity version.”

Tokyo Apple Store opens iPod Bar

imageApple’s flagship retail store in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district recently opened up an iPod Bar. Similar to the Genius Bars at Apple Stores, the iPod Bar offers customers iPod help and technical support at a friendly walk-up bar area. Gadget blog Gizmodo has photos of the new iPod Bar and comments: “I imagine the iPod Bar staff are basically logo-t-shirted, restart-button-combination-pushing monkeys, since most common iPod problems (frozen/won’t turn on, etc.) can be fixed in this way apart from serious hardware-related problems.”

Think Different Store launches CD ripping service

The Think Different Store has announced the launch of its new CD ripping service. “Designed to provide iPod owners with a fast path to a complete digital music library, the service converts music on CDs into high-quality MP3 files suitable for importing into iTunes and the iPod,” according to the store. Conversions start at $55 plus shipping and require approximately 5 days to complete. The service is available online at 1-800-iPod.com, and also at the 1-800-iPod.com retail location in Selden, New York. Customers purchasing the service in person will save shipping fees.

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