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Analyst: ‘True’ video iPod, iPhone likely this year

Following a meeting with Apple executives, Bear Stearns analyst Andy Neff said he believes that a “true” video iPod and possibly other new Apple products will be launched in the second half of 2006. After talking with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and Apple VP of Product Marketing Greg Joswiak, Neff told clients: “While Apple did not comment on potential new products, in addressing the issue of emerging competition and potential commoditization of iPod, it appeared to us that Apple is likely to refresh the iPod product line ahead the holiday season (as it has done every year since the introduction of iPod). However, ‘true’ video iPod (if launched) is likely to be offered as a complimentary product to iPods. Also, iPod phone appears to be in the works, although timing remains uncertain.”

Mix: RIAA vs. XM, American Idol, Creative suit, iPod thieves

The Recording Industry Association of America has sued XM Satellite Radio, alleging that its Pioneer-manufactured Inno device infringes on copyrights because it can save and playback music from XM stations.

Snubbing the iTunes Music Store, Fox is now selling downloads of performances from “American Idol” on the show’s official website. Video downloads sell for $1.99, while audio downloads cost 99 cents.

Jamo offers i300 iPod speaker system

Jamo recently introduced the i300 speaker system for all dockable iPods. The 2.1 system includes a standalone powered subwoofer, two compact satellite speakers, an iPod dock, and wireless remote control. “The system’s versatility extends far beyond filling your room with tunes stored on your iPod,” says Jamo. “The control dock (which charges your iPod too) is also fitted with an extra auxiliary input on its rear panel so that you can hook up your computer, portable DVD player or games console to the system. Still got another source that you want to hook up? No problem—there’s yet another input on the subwoofer itself.” Pricing was not available.

Mix: Free cases, Bono/Bush, MacBooks, XtremeMac

Contour Design is giving away 200 free iSee nano cases on its website. The company is also offering 15% off all of its hardshell cases until next Monday.

According to financial reports released by the White House, Bono, lead singer of U2, gave president George W. Bush an iPod last year.

Memorex debuts three new iPod sound systems

Memorex has introduced three new iPod speaker systems — the iListen, iMove and iWake. All of the units feature a built-in charging iPod cradle, digital AM/FM tuner, SRS WOW technology sound enhancement, backlit LCD display, and wireless remote control. The iListen (shown right) is a flat-fronted shelf system that features a silver stand and wall mounting capability. The iMove is a portable boombox-style system with an integrated carrying handle. Finally, the iWake is a clock radio with dual alarm function that lets you wake to your iPod, radio, or alarm. All three systems come in white or black and are compatible with 4G and 5G iPods, iPod nanos and iPod minis. Pricing is not yet available.

Discovery programming comes to iTunes Music Store

Discovery Communications and Apple today announced that programming from Discovery’s family of networks is now available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store. The offering includes shows from the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel and Discovery Kids. “Wherever they are and whenever they want, consumers can use the iPod to learn and be entertained with Discovery’s content about people, places, cultures, science, health and much more,” said Discovery’s Don Baer.

Tunewear unveils leather case for iPod Hi-Fi

Tunewear today announced the Concerto Bianco case for Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi. Made of Italian nappa leather, the protective carrying case includes a removable, padded shoulder strap, felt lining, and a small case for the Apple remote. “Concerto Bianco was born for the user who insists on decorating their favorite space with their own original style,” says Tunewear. “With iPod Hi-Fi clad in the elegant Concerto Bianco your living room looks and sounds truly beautiful.” It will be available in June for $295.

Apple music biz, Asian iPod market to flourish

Apple’s music business could more than double the size of the company in the next five years, according to research firm Generator. The iPod lineup will remain the primary source of growth, the firm said, although the iTunes Music Store will be contributing 37% of the the expected $15 billion in music revenues by 2010. “Most people now understand that Apple’s music business is the main source of growth but what’s not widely appreciated is just how big the music business could become in the future. It’s a big worry for some people in the industry,” says Andrew Sheehy, vice president of research at Generator.

Creative sues Apple over iPod interface, seeks ITC injunction

Creative Technology has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the iPod’s interface is infringing on the company’s “Zen Patent.” Creative also said today that it has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission requesting that the federal agency launch an investigation intro whether Apple has “violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 through its importation and sale after importation into the United States of iPods and iPod Nanos that infringe U.S. Patent 6,928,433, which Creative refers to as the Zen Patent.” Further details on both of Creative’s legal actions below.

Better Energy Systems ships Tread cases

Better Energy Systems has announced the availability of its “Tread” line of digital accessory cases made from reengineered Colombian truck tires. The environmentally-friendly cases come in versions for the iPod nano ($35), Solio solar charger ($20), and laptops ($100). The iPod nano Tread case (iLounge Rating: B+) is available with blue, black, red or pink trim, and features an integrated earbud holder, waterproof rubber construction, and nylon stitching.

BusinessWeek: French iTunes Music Store could still close

France’s softened digital music copyright bill is unlikely to put an end to Apple’s concerns, and could still result in the iTunes Music Store being closed in the country. “The spectre of Apple shutting down the French outpost of its iTunes Music Store is very real,” says BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl. “Apple hasn’t said as much publicly, but France’s portion of Apple’s music-download business accounts for less than 1% of the business unit’s worldwide revenue. A contentious new legal and regulatory environment would make it hardly worth the effort—let alone the increased cost—of keeping the French store open. Shutting down the French unit of the iTunes operation wouldn’t affect sales of iPods, however, nor of other Apple products. French consumers also would be able to continue downloading the iTunes software and using it with their iPods.”

Softbank denies Apple cell phone deal

Softbank has issued a brief statement [Japanese language] denying claims that it is working with Apple to develop an “iPhone.” The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Japanese newspaper reported on Friday that Apple had partnered with Softbank to create and manufacture a new cell phone with iPod-like music-playing features and the capability to download songs directly from the iTunes Music Store.

Mix: MySpace, Bose, Cabbie, Ohio Univ.

News Corp.‘s MySpace will begin selling episodes of Fox’s “24” next week as part of a plan to “turn the popular teen website into a business rivaling Yahoo and Apple’s iTunes.”

In an article in BusinessWeek, a Bose executive hinted that the company will introduce more iPod-related accessories in the coming months. “Bose is [in the iPod business] for the long run,” said Phil Hess, director of Bose’s home entertainment division. “It’s a segment we are going to focus on.”

MTV to launch URGE online music store this week

MTV plans to launch a public beta version of its URGE digital music store this week. URGE will be integrated into the next update of Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, and will sell no songs that are compatible with the iPod. “At launch, URGE will have more than 2 million tracks, which can be purchased individually at 99 cents or as full albums starting at around $9.95,” reports the AP. “The service also will offer unlimited downloads at a monthly rate of $9.95, or $14.95 for the ability to transfer songs to any of more than 100 compatible portable music players. Initially, URGE will also feature streaming videos, with video downloads becoming available for purchase later this year.” MTV is expected to heavily promote URGE on air, and will also offer exclusive tracks such as live performances from “TRL” and “MTV Unplugged.”

Report: Apple, Softbank developing iPod phone

Apple has partnered with Softbank to build a new cell phone with iPod-like features and the capability to download songs directly from the iTunes Music Store, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun Japanese newspaper. The article claims that Softbank president Masayoshi Son and Apple CEO Steve Jobs met earlier this year and formed the partnership to develop the long-rumored device. The phone will reportedly be a 3G model with music-playing features and high-speed web connectivity. The report says that the phones will be released in Japan “sometime this year at the earliest,” and then later in the U.S.

GEAR4 intros CruiseControl RF remote for iPods

UK-based iPod accessory maker GEAR4 has announced the CruiseControl, an RF remote control for iPods. The CruiseControl’s receiver works with any iPod with a dock connector port, has a headphone amp and port on the bottom, and provides a range of up to 160 feet. The remote control comes with a lanyard and has seven functions, including shuffle and repeat buttons, normal pause/play, volume and fwd/back buttons. The CruiseControl sells for £24.99 (about $47).

ColorEnvy offers iPod front-panel refurbishing service

ColorEnvy has announced an iPod front-panel refurbishing service. “Do you have a badly scratched front panel, can’t watch videos or view your pictures? ColorEnvy can get rid of those nasty scratches on your iPod and make the front panel look like new again,” says the company. “ColorEnvy uses the latest technology and newest techniques to apply a flawless finish to your iPods front panel… we will remove the scratches and apply a scratch resistant coating to keep it looking new.” The refurbishing service costs $20.

Tunewear debuts Tetran Luminous cable winder

Tunewear today announced Tetran Luminous, a glow-in-the-dark version of its offbeat earbud cable winder. The spiked creature lets you wrap your iPod earbud cords around it to reduce cable mess. Tunewear says Tetran can also be used as personal massager. It sells for $13 and also comes in pink, green, yellow, and orange.

Amended French copyright bill passes

The French Senate today passed an amended version of its controversial copyright bill to soften the law that could force iTunes and other digital music services to open up their copy-protection technologies to competitors. “The text of the bill approved by senators on Wednesday retains the principle of DRM interoperability, but opens a loophole allowing companies to keep their technology secret, which should please Apple, but may not leave consumers as happy,” reports Macworld UK. “Senators weakened the bill’s blanket requirement that vendors give details of their DRM technology to those wishing to develop interoperable systems. Instead, they voted to create a new regulatory authority responsible for mediating requests for such details.”

Mix: Audible, Fifth Avenue, Britney, BitTorrent, Clickwheel

Audible.com said nearly a quarter of its first-quarter revenues came from sales of content through the iTunes Music Store. Audbile CEO Don Katz said iTunes sales totaled $4.4 million, or 23% of revenues. Revenue from the Music Store “has been growing like crazy,” Katz said.

Apple will open its new flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City on Friday, May 19th. The new store features a unique glass cube-shaped entrance that leads down into the store.

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