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‘The Great iPod Exchange’ launched

NextWorth today launched “The Great iPod Exchange,” a new service for consumers to sell their used iPods for cash. “While some wish to sell their used iPods themselves, The Great iPod Exchange streamlines the sales process, giving customers a better cash return than they might realize through alternative outlets (e.g. Apple Store, PodSwap, SmallDog Electronics),” says the company.

NextWorth describes the three steps to selling your iPod to them:

1) Complete form - Point your browser to http://ipod.nextworth.com, complete online form with details on the condition, model and components of the used iPod. NextWorth provides an instant “guaranteed value” quote for the unit. NextWorth ships the original owner a postage-paid return package.

2) Return - iPod Owner ships iPod and accompanying materials (disc, literature, peripherals) to NextWorth in pre-paid postage package.

3) Receive a check - After receiving and evaluating the customer’s iPod, NextWorth inspects and verifies the condition of the iPod.  Within 2 weeks of their initial contact to NextWorth, the customer receives the check for the “guaranteed value”.

 

Showtime added to iTunes; Video downloads top 12 million

Showtime and Apple today announced that programming from the premium cable channel is now available on the iTunes Music Store. The first round of shows from Showtime includes the first seasons of “Sleeper Cell,” “Weeds” and “Fat Actress.”

iTunes now offers more than 50 TV shows available for $1.99 per episode. Apple also announced that more than 12 million videos have been purchased and downloaded since they were added to the iTunes Music Store in October 2005.

Apple intros 1GB iPod nano, drops shuffle price

imageApple today introduced a new 1GB iPod nano that offers the same features and form factor as the current 2GB and 4GB models for $149. The new lower-capacity nano, which was predicted by analysts, holds up to 240 songs or 15,000 photos. It is available immediately.

Apple also cut iPod shuffle prices by $30. The 512MB model now sells for $69 and the 1GB shuffle is now priced at $99.

“Now everyone can afford an iPod nano, with our new 1GB model starting at just $149,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing. “The iPod is the world’s most popular digital music player with over 40 million sold, and now even more music lovers can experience the unrivaled combination of iPod and iTunes.”

[Note: iLounge’s comprehensive iPod nano review now includes new photos and details on the differences between the 1GB nano and its 2GB/4GB predecessors.]

Pacific Rim now shipping iCradle

imagePacific Rim Technologies has announced the availability of its iCradle. The accessory allows any dockable iPod (3G, 4G, 5G, mini, nano) to connect to your home stereo. It comes with a wireless remote and can also be used to charge/sync your iPod. The dock has USB 2.0, audio jack and S-Video connections. The iCradle is available until February 14th for $35—it will sell for $45 afterwards.

Apple launches countdown to a billion songs

Apple has quietly launched its countdown to a billion songs sold on the iTunes Music Store. “Music lovers like you in 21 countries around the globe have purchased nearly one billion songs from the iTunes Music Store. And as we count down to this massive milestone in digital music history, we’d like to thank you for joining us,” Apple says. “We’ve got one billion reasons to celebrate, and we’re starting with you.”

The company is giving away a 4GB iPod nano and a $100 iTunes gift card to the iTunes customer who purchases the winning song at each 100,000 interval. The grand prize winner who downloads the billionth song will receive a 20-inch iMac, 10 60GB iPods, and a $10,000 iTunes gift card. In addition, Apple said it will create a full-ride scholarship in the winner’s name to a world-renowned music school.

Like it has with past milestones, Apple has posted a live song counter online to help users participate in the contest. The tally currently stands at nearly 960 million songs sold.

News Corp.‘s Murdoch not impressed by video iPod, iTunes

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a recent interview with Newsweek that he’s not impressed with the video iPod and that Apple’s agreements with networks like NBC and ABC are not ground-breaking.

“We’re not knocked out by iPod so far,” he said, adding that News Corp. has had talks with Apple, Google and others. “But how many people really want to get video on a tiny screen when they already have TiVo or a similar service from their cable company or DirecTV? How many will want to pay $1.99 on Monday morning if they missed ‘Desperate Housewives’ the night before? What’s been announced so far with iPod and Disney and NBC is very small-time at the moment.”

Carbon fiber case for 5G iPod introduced

imageC6 Manufacturing has announced the availability of its carbon fiber case for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The case features genuine aerospace carbon fiber and aluminum construction with stainless steel screws. It also comes with a clear screen protector, stainless steel belt clip and assembly tool. The carbon fiber case sells for $50 and is available in two sizes for both the 30GB and 60GB iPod.

Mix: Dell DJ, Super Bowl ads, Comedy Central, Nano repairs

Dell has discontinued its Digital Jukebox MP3 player line. Dell will still sell the $99 flash memory-based DJ Ditty.

Google Video has a large collection of Super Bowl XL commercials, including several that are free downloads in iPod video format.

MTV Networks has been surprised that stand-up specials from its Comedy Central channel are outperforming better-known shows like “Laguna Beach” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Apple is continuing to repair damaged iPod nano displays free-of-charge and has instructed its partners to do the same, according to an AppleInsider report.

iTunes interface theft hearing this week

Attorneys for Contois Music Technology and Apple will meet at a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the progress of the iTunes interface theft case and when it will be ready for trial. Contois filed a lawsuit against Apple over the user interface of iTunes in June of last year. The company is asking a judge to end the distribution of iTunes and is seeking unspecified damages and fees. Apple denies the allegations and is seeking reimbursement of its own legal fees.

“Apple has copied the invention,” reads the lawsuit. “Apple’s infringement has been and continues to be willful.” The complaint says that Contois showed its music software at industry trade shows in 1995 and 1996 in Nevada and California, and charges that Apple’s “current or future employees” viewed the software at those trade shows and later duplicated it. Contois filed for a patent on its software in 1996 and was granted the application in 1999.

Mix: iPod etiquette, Grand Prix, iWarship, CBS shows

USA Today has posted an article on iPod office etiquette, offering tips for listening to your iPod at work.

Apple’s iTunes Music Store won the “Grand Prix

The iPod ecosystem by the numbers

The New York Times takes a look at the iPod accessory market today and provides a product breakdown and interesting dollar figures. The overall iPod add-on market is a $1 billion business, and for ever $3 spent on an iPod, at least $1 is spent on an accessory. Citing an NPD analyst, The Times says sales of iPod accessories totaled $850 million last year, not counting online sales.

The paper also claims that about 28 percent of all accessories are cases, about 30 percent of sales are for car chargers or FM transmitters and the remainder are speakers and docking stations. Retailer margins for electronic iPod products are reportedly around 25 percent, while cases offer 50 percent margins.

TuneCore offers indie artists direct access to iTMS

TuneCore is a new service that provides independent artists an easy way to sell their tracks on the iTunes Music Store and RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service. The company promises 100% of the money that the stores pay—without a contract or losing any rights or ownership to the music. TuneCore allows artists to upload their music via its website or mail a CD to them. The company charges a one-time deliver fee of 99-cents per song on each album, and a yearly maintenance and storage fee of $7.98 per album.

“TuneCore is a music delivery and distribution service that gets music you created (even cover versions) up for sale on iTunes and Rhapsody without asking for your rights or taking any money from the sale or use of your music,” explains the company. “You get 100% of what iTunes and Rhapsody pay. We take nothing, all the money goes to you. You keep ALL the rights and ownership of your music and master recordings. TuneCore is non-exclusive, so you’re never locked in.”

Karl Lagerfeld to release fashion show on iTunes

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld will release a video podcast of his fall/winter ‘06 line through iTunes following the close of New York Fashion Week on Friday, February 10.

“The runway show will be taped in HD and edited on-site using Final Cut Pro editing software with Motion-based graphics added in a near real-time process,” explains the Lagerfeld fashion house. “This innovative process allows for not only HD output used at the event, but also for video podcasting of the show, which will be available for download via iTunes that evening. This will be the first time a designer has brought fashion and technology together in this revolutionary way.”

Lagerfeld is known as an excessive iPod fan with a collection of more than 70 various iPod models as of 2004.

NewerTech Polish Kit restores scratched iPods

imageNewer Technology has introduced the NewerTech Clean and Polish Kit, which is designed to remove scratches and restore color to used iPods, iBooks, and other plastic computer components. The $18 kit includes a Heavy Scratch Remover solution, Fine Scratch Remover solution, and Plastic Clean and Shine protection polish. A polishing cloth and step-by-step instructions are also included.

“The NewerTech Clean and Polish Kit utilizes advanced chemistry bonds to remove heavy scratches, abrasions, fine marks and delicate cuts from virtually all plastics and acrylic surfaces without unsightly filling,” says the company. “The scratch remover elements also restore faded and discolored plastic. A state-of-the-art, Level 3 plastic polish leaves a lustrous shine that resists fogging, repels dust, resists fingerprint marks, and eliminates static.”

Apple sued by iPod user over hearing loss

A disgruntled iPod owner has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming the device causes hearing loss and that the company does not properly warn users of this danger. iPods are “inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss,” according to the complaint, which was filed yesterday on behalf of John Kiel Patterson in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California.

The suit, which seeks class action status, demands compensation for unspecified plaintiffs’ damages and upgrades to make iPods safer to use. According to the complaint, iPods can produce sounds of more than 115 decibels, which can damage the hearing of a person exposed for more than 28 seconds per day. Apple ships a warning with each iPod that states “permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume.”

iPodResQ offers iPod nano battery upgrade service

iPodResQ today announced that it is now offering an iPod nano high-capacity battery upgrade service. The company said it will install a new battery that offers an approximate 10% increase in play time for $64. The service includes a custom “iBox

Mix: Survivor, Swiss tax, Homestar Runner, Sony software

CBS announced today that it will begin selling downloadable episodes of “Survivor” directly from its website. It does not appear the videos will be iPod compatible.

Apple and other MP3 player makers are challenging a new tax on digital music players in Switzerland that could add an extra 20% to product prices.

Homestar Runner has posted five downloadable cartoons for the video iPod.

CNET News.com has an interesting article on Tim Schaaff, the former QuickTime engineer at Apple and Sony’s new head of software development.

Group: Your senator needs an iPod

IPAC, a group “dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced intellectual property policy,” has launched an initiative to buy a video iPod for every U.S. senator who works on legislation affecting technology. The iPods will come pre-loaded with public domain and Creative Commons-licensed material to help enlighten the senators to a more mainstream consumer viewpoint.

“Last week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on the ‘Broadcast Flag’ and ‘Audio Flag,’ a set of proposals by the MPAA and RIAA that would stifle innovation by giving content holders a virtual veto over new technologies and existing user rights,” IPAC states on its website.

“But Senator Stevens, the 82-year old committee chairman from Alaska, surprised the audience by announcing that his daughter had bought him an iPod, and suddenly Stevens had a much greater understanding of the many ways innovative technology can create choice for consumers. Content industry representatives at the hearing found themselves answering much tougher questions than they typically receive.”

Monster iCruze package on sale for $99

imageMonster is now selling the complete iCruze package for just $99, a fraction of what the direct-connect iPod car audio solution sold for originally. The kit includes the iCruze OEM/CD Changer Interface Module (reg. $250), the iCruze LCD Display Module (reg. $100) and necessary iCruze Interface Cables (reg. $30-$160). You’ll also get the “Monster Music: 3 Doors Down LIVE, Away From The Sun” Video SuperDisc ($25 value) with the system. Monster says the deal is available for a limited time.

Google: No plans for music store at this time

Google has denied reports that it plans to acquire Napster or launch its own digital music store. The New York Post, citing anonymous sources, claimed yesterday that Google was considering an extensive alliance with Napster or an “outright acquisition” of company. Robert Peck of Bear Stearns predicted last week that Google will launch “Google Tunes” within the next six months.

The internet search giant said the published report was untrue and that it will not roll out a music service in the foreseeable future. “We have no plans to acquire Napster, nor do we have plans to develop a music store at this time,” Google spokeswoman Sonya Boralv said in a statement. She noted that Google recently introduced a new search feature that offers users faster access to music-related information.

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