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Lugz sends Apple cease and desist notice over TV ad

imageLugz Footwear said late Friday that it has sent a cease and desist letter to both Apple and its adverstising agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, over the similarities between a Lugz TV commercial from 2002 and Apple’s new iPod + iTunes spot featuring rapper Eminem.

As previously reported, Apple’s new ad is strikingly similar to the three year old Lugz commercial, with both featuring an urban background in red, orange and yellow hues with a hip-hop soundtrack and black silhouette dancers.

“If you look at these spots, common sense would tell you that there’s a problem here,”  Larry Schwartz, executive vice president and a principal of Lugz parent company JSSI, said in a statement. “The Apple commercial uses the most powerful elements of our campaign, making the ads disturbingly similar. We are prepared to vigorously pursue all legal remedies in order to protect our rights.”

New iPod accessories debut in iLounge Buyers’ Guide

Several new iPod products made their debut in our just-released Holiday Buyers’ Guide. You’ll find exclusive previews of iPod nano and 5G accessories from companies like Belkin, Griffin, Macally, Vaja, and more. Below, we’ve rounded up the highlights for easy consumption. Be sure to download the free guide to check out all of the gear, as well as exclusive reviews and feature articles.

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Vaja iVod for iPod nano (1)
The $50 case features a high-quality padded leather body, screen protector, and optional click wheel protector. As with all Vaja cases, it will be available in numerous colors.

Belkin TuneBase FM nano + 5G (2)
Two new models of the company’s 3-in-1 car mount, charger and FM transmitter. The devices offer four FM presets and tuning buttons. They’re scheduled to be released in January for $80 each.

Belkin TuneFM nano + 5G
Two new bottom-mounting versions of Belkin’s FM transmitter. They will use an iPod’s screen for tuning and feature a mini USB port, and four preset buttons. They’ll sell for $50 each next year.

Macally mTune-n (3)
A new version of the company’s over-the-ear headphones that have a slot for your iPod nano in the left earcup, allowing you to listen to your nano without wires.

Macally FMCup (4)
The $60 product fits inside a car’s cup holder to become and iPod cradle, charger and FM transmitter. It’s also got a backlit LCD screen and buttons for tuning.

AKG Acoustics k701 headphones
These $400 premium headphones offer “silky smooth, detailed sound…warm, but lets highs pop and creates a vivid stage,” said iLounge EIC Jeremy Horwitz in his A-rating review of the headphones.

Griffin Technology iTrip Auto (5)
A combination iPod charger and FM transmitter for in-car use. The iTrip Auto connects to an iPod’s dock connector port and allows for easy tuning via a wired remote-like device. It will be available in December.

Griffin Technology TuneBuds
Similar to Apple’s Lanyard Headphones for the iPod nano, Griffin’s $30 TuneBuds combine a metal nano holder, white fabric lanyard and a set of white and gray earbuds.

Core Cases Aluminum Case for nano
New aluminum cases for the iPod nano with screen protectors and seven color options. They’ll sell for $20.

Power Support Silicone Jacket for iPod nano
Priced at $25, the case is made from surgical-grade Japanese silicone rubber and comes in translucent and black. It comes with a detachable belt clip and a clear protector and click wheel film.

Mix: EA music, Burger King, Sony rootkit, 99 Cents Only

Electronic Arts has launched EA Recordings, a new digital music distribution label that will bring the company’s catalog of wholly-owned musical compositions and remixes to services such as iTunes.

Broadband video site Heavy.com has announced that Burger King is sponsoring a collection of short videos formatted specifically for the new 5G iPod.

Sony has admitted that it included a stealth rootkit on some CDs and has issued an update to remove the hidden software. “The nearly undetectable monitoring utility, part of the company’s digital-rights management (DRM) technology, was aimed at preventing consumers from producing illegal copies of CDs. The software installed itself automatically in Windows systems whenever a CD was inserted.”

To celebrate the opening of the newest 99 Cents Only Store on November 10 in Orangevale, California, the store will be selling 9 iPod nanos and 99 scooters for only 99 cents.

SendStation ships new gear, launches iTunes giveaway

SendStation Systems today announced the availability of two of its recently announced iPod products—the smartCharge for iPod shuffle and the earBuddy case for Apple’s earbuds.

imageThe smartCharge ($29.95) is a car charger for the iPod shuffle. It features an adjustable cradle, a built-in audio-jack for a cassette adapter, and charges full-size iPods with a USB dock connector cable.

imageThe earBuddy ($14.95) is a tiny case for Apple’s iPod earbuds. Made of ballistic nylon, the case has a detachable keyring and is available in silver-gray with orange trim or all-black.

SendStation also today announced its 100,000 song iTunes promotion. The company said both of the new products will come with a code that can be redeemed for one free song download from the iTunes Music Store. Every 20th (or 25th) code “hits the jackpot” and wins 10 free songs instead of only one.

iCel power packs for iPods, speaker systems available

imageLithium House is now selling a new line of iCel portable power packs for iPods that offer up to 200 hours of extra playback time. The company has also released power sources for the JBL On Stage and Altec Lansing InMotion that enable you to use the speaker systems on the go.

The iPod models include: iCel 201 ($100) - 50 hours of runtime, iCel 202 ($150) - 96 hours of runtime, and iCel 205 ($200) 200 hours or runtime. The 201 and 202 models are palm-sized and have 1-2 hour recharge times, while the 202 is larger and carries a 1-4 hour recharge time. It appears that the iCel power packs require a FireWire cable.

The iCel portable power source for the On Stage comes in three models: iCel 401 ($100) - 10 hours of runtime, iCel 402 ($150) - 20 hours of runtime, and iCel 405 ($250) - 50 hours of runtime. The iCel for the InMotion speaker system is also available in three options: iCel 201 ($100) - 18 hours of runtime, iCel 202 ($150) - 36 hours of runtime, and iCel 205 ($250) - 100 hours of runtime.

ZoomAndGo.com offers iPod-compatible travel videos

ZoomAndGo.com, a website featuring traveler videos and in-depth hotel reviews, has announced that it is now offering its entire library of video clips for fifth-generation iPods.

“Current clips range from on-camera hotel reviews and insider advice about tourist attractions to tips from travelers on-camera about the best hotel beds and finding bargains overseas,” explains the company. “Zoom And Go will have video for most major destinations and hotels by the end of this year. Users can download Zoom And Go videos onto their iPods by clicking on the Download to iPod link beside each clip.”

CBS considers offering shows on iTunes

CBS Digital President Larry Kramer said this week that he has had talks with Apple about selling CBS television shows on the iTunes Music Store. Kramer said a deal with Apple is a strong possibility as long as the “economic proposal is fair enough.” Currently, the only network the offers shows through iTunes is ABC.

CBS recently announced that it will offer downloads of three episodes of prime-time sci-fi series “Threshold” online via CBS.com. The network also recently released a large number of podcasts through the iTunes Music Store, including “60 Minutes” and “Guiding Light” podcasts.

Mix: Open Source, Scotland, iPod VR, iPod costumes, Playboy

Neuros Audio is turning to the open-source community to help make its upcoming portable media player an iPod contender.

Apple is giving Scotland’s Edinburgh high school 50 iPods to be used in classrooms by students and teachers.

Make magazine’s Philip Torrone has posted an article on his experiences testing out VR/LCD goggles with the video-enabled 5G iPod.

Engadget has posted all of the iPod costume entries it received for the Engadget Halloween Costume Contest.

Men’s magazine publishers Playboy and Penthouse may soon offer adult movies for portable video players such as the new 5G iPod, according to Bloomberg News.

AOL buys MusicNow; iTunes partnership to continue

AOL confirmed today that it has bought Circuit City’s MusicNow digital music service. Financial terms were not disclosed, but insiders said AOL paid less than $25 million. MusicNow will offer 99-cent song downloads and monthly subscriptions for $9.95 for unlimited downloading. Like services from Napster and Yahoo, users can download songs to a compatible music player for an additional fee.

AOL entered into a partnership with Apple in 2003 to promote the iTunes Music Store through its internet service. AOL members can also sign in to the iTunes Music Store using their AOL screen name and password to buy tracks. The company said its purchase of MusicNow will not immediately affect its relationship with Apple. “AOL’s partnership with iTunes is strong, has been fruitful for both companies, and will continue,” said AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham.

iKey records audio in MP3, WAV format onto iPod

imageiKey-Audio has introduced the iKey, a portable device that records audio from any audio source and converts it to MP3 or WAV files that are saved directly onto an iPod. The iKey sells for $230 and is available now.

“From music and concerts to live speeches and seminars, the iKey is a consumer-centric device that is capable of capturing an audio signal in real-time and converting it into MP3 and WAV format,” explains the company. “The iKey is extremely user-friendly and easy to operate. Consumers simply connect a cable from their headphone jack, CD player or other output source to the iKey, connect the iKey to a USB storage device such as an iPod, select a digital audio format, and hit record.”

Samsung: No plans for music store, working with partners

Contrary to previous reports, Samsung said today that it does not plan to launch its own digital music store. However, the company did say that it will help its online music partners in hopes of boosting sales of Samsung digital audio players.

“We’re not interested in the online music services market but we plan to offer technical support to our partners to make their services easier and fancier and that would increase our hardware sales,” Choi Gee-sung, the president of Samsung’s digital media division told reporters after a meeting with analysts.

Samsung’s partners include Napster, Microsoft and Yahoo Music. The company is also the main supplier of flash memory to Apple for use in iPods.

Analyst: 5G iPod sales ‘ahead of expectations’

Sales of Apple’s video-enabled fifth-generation iPod are stronger than expected, according to one Wall Street analyst. “In our recent proprietary checks with industry and channel sources, we believe sales of 5G iPods are coming in ahead of expectations,” American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note provided to iLounge. “In some cases, in Apple’s own channels, including its physical stores and online store, we believe 5G iPods are surprisingly outselling even the very popular iPod nano.”

Wu said he believes that buyers of the new iPod are “mostly installed base users attracted to its high storage capacity, video capability, and reasonable price points,” while more mainstream customers are purchasing nanos. “We do not believe this trend is true through all distribution channels, particularly retail including Amazon.com, Best Buy, and CompUSA, where iPod nano remains the best seller,” he said.

Fluffpod debuts ‘Fluffer’ iPod case

imageNew York City-based Fluffpod has announced Fluffer, a new iPod case made from “extra soft faux fur, silky smooth satin lining, and white leather boots.” The white fur case is available for all fourth-generation iPods, and provides access to all controls and ports. “We wanted to bring serious softness, personality, and character to our first really fun consumer product,” said Scott Lopatin, creator of Fluffpod, “all while safely protecting your iPod cuddled snugly inside Fluffer.” The case is priced at $35.

Digital music sales leveling off

Despite the increasing popularity of the iPod and iTunes Music Store, digital music sales in the U.S. have plateaued in recent months. According to Nielsen SoundScan, sales of digital tracks almost tripled to 6.6 million downloads a week in the year through May, and were at only 6.7 million in the last week of October.

“The download numbers suggest that the iPod’s iconic success, which has driven up Apple’s share price almost sixfold since 2001, isn’t translating into new music sales the way the evolution from vinyl albums to cassettes and then CDs did,” says Bloomberg’s Charles Goldsmith. “For many users, the portable devices are just another way of stocking and listening to music, not an incentive to buy new music,” he says.

iLounge opens Library for free iPod Books and Guides

imageiLounge has today opened the Library, a section of the site dedicated to our free Buyers’ Guides and Books. The Library provides one-click downloading access to each of our previous editions, starting with our 2004 Buyers’ Guide, continuing to our Spring/Summer 2005 Guide, The Free iPod Book, and our most recent Holiday 2005-2006 Buyers’ Guide.

The Free iPod Book contains comprehensive iPod and iTunes tutorials, as well as information on the wealth of iPod-related repair, customization, and CD ripping service providers currently out there. Past editions of our Buyers’ Guides focus heavily on accessories for discontinued iPods and iPod minis. All of these publications are in PDF format, and available free of charge.

Pixelgirl Shop adds new handmade iPod nano cases

The Pixelgirl Shop has added a slew of new iPod nano cases to its online store of handmade goods.

imageThe Urban Metallics Sculpted Leather Nano Case ($45) designed by Marty Flint is a hand-oiled leather stitched case that has a “dark silver texture made out of words, blended onto the black leather for an urban but grungy feel.”

imageThe Sweethearts White Nano Case ($18) is a white vinyl hand-stitched case also designed by Flint. It has a “cute heart pattern stitched onto the front and a cool sewn edge to give it a finished look.” Flilnt’s Winter White Nano Case ($18) is identical to his Sweethearts nano case, but with a light blue snowflake pattern instead of hearts.

imageGerbera Designs has three designs available from Pixelgirl. All three cases sell for $25 and include iPod Nano Case - Flowers, iPod Nano Case - I love Eames, and iPod Nano Case - Mod Dots. The flip-style fabric cases have a clear pocket for the nano, foam padding and velcro closure.

imageThe Mod Lines Nano Case ($18) by Emily Sessions has a hand-sewn design made of a wool/acrylic blend felt, with acrylic felt appliques and velcro closure. The case also has a clear vinyl covering for the screen and click wheel.



Mix: Undercover sting, BBC programs, Usenet videos

Two 16-year-old Philadelphia boys were arrested in an undercover sting operation yesterday after holding a female college student’s iPod for ransom since this past weekend. The iPod was recovered unharmed.

The BBC is reportedly planning to make most of its programming available for free on platforms such as the video-enabled 5G iPod for seven days after it has been broadcast.

Online search engine Guba is “set to offer vast amounts of pornography and other video files specifically tailored for Apple’s new iPods,” reports Reuters. Beginning this month, Guba will convert video files from Usenet newsgroups into H.264 format.

Griffin updates RoadTrip for new iPods

imageGriffin Technology has announced that its RoadTrip FM transmitter, charger and cradle now works with Apple’s fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. A new cradle for the nano now ships with every RoadTrip, and the 5G iPod works with the RoadTrip’s adjustable cradle. The all-in-one car solution also now comes in either white or charcoal. The RoadTrip, which sells for $89.99, is now compatible with any 3G/4G/5G iPod, iPod mini and iPod nano. Current RoadTrip owners can get the nano cradle from Griffin for free plus the cost of shipping.

iLounge at Podcast and Portable Media Expo

imageThe iLounge team will be on hand at next week’s Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference in Ontario, California. Our booth will feature a hands-on lounge area with a number of iPod accessories from companies such as Altec Lansing, Belkin, Griffin, DLO, iHome, JBL, Macally, Oregon Scientific, iSkin, and Speck.

The booth will also feature a “History of iPod” display showcasing every generation of iPod with music and featured podcasts to listen to. The iLounge booth will sport two 20” iMacs for checking out the Holiday Buyers’ Guide and the iLounge website, as well as a 50” Plasma display showing visuals to music. We’ll also have giveaways of iLounge T-shirts and iPod accessories. In addition, iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz will moderate a panel featuring leading members of the iPod economy at the event. You can check out renderings of the iLounge booth by clicking below.

Analyst: Apple could ship over 37 million iPods in 2005

Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster expects Apple to ship approximately 37 million iPods in 2005. “We expect the iPod to continue to be a foundation for growth in other parts of Apple’s business, and we expect that by the end of CY05 more than 37 million iPods will have shipped, providing Apple with a greater scope of awareness for various products (halo effect),” Munster said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “It appears that this phenomenon has begun to take effect, with a record 1.23 million Macs shipped in the September quarter.”

Munster also notes that iPod models are still dominating Amazon Top Seller Lists. “We believe that the iPod is continuing to gain traction in the December quarter as evidenced by the number of iPods included on the Amazon Top Seller List for portable MP3 players and All Electronics,” he said. “The number of iPods in the Top 10 increased by one, from 7 to 8 since our last update on October 21. Apple has 2 products in the Top 10 Sellers List of All Electronics and 4 in the Top 20.”

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