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Disney: 500,000 movies, 12 million TV shows sold on iTunes

Disney has now sold nearly 500,000 movies and approximately 12 million ABC television programs through the iTunes Store, according to Disney CEO Robert Iger. “Since we made our movies available on the Apple platform in mid-September, almost half a million have been downloaded,” Iger said during Disney’s fourth quarter earnings call. “This underlines the strength and uniqueness of our film library, and indicates there is a consumer appetite for movie downloads that complements demand for DVDs… In addition, approximately 12 million ABC TV programs have been purchased since October, 2005 via iTunes downloads.”

Mossberg, Pogue unimpressed by Microsoft Zune

The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and The New York Times’ David Pogue, two of the most well known and widely read tech columnists, both give less than stellar marks to Microsoft’s Zune media player in their reviews of the device today. While both writers give the Zune credit for a handful of features—with Pogue even calling the device “excellent” at one point—they both offer up fairly damaging final reviews.

“This first Zune has too many compromises and missing features to be as good a choice as the iPod for most users,” Mossberg writes. “The hardware feels rushed and incomplete. It is 60% larger and 17% heavier than the comparable iPod. It has much worse battery life for music than the iPod or than Microsoft claims—at least two hours less than the iPod’s, in my tests. Despite the larger screen, many album covers look worse than they do on the iPod. And you can’t share music libraries between computers like you can with iTunes… Overall, the iPod and iTunes are still the champs. Still, I expect the Zune to attract some converts and to get better with time. And this kind of competition from a big company with deep pockets and lots of talent is good for consumers in the long run.”

“Competition is good and all. But what, exactly, is the point of the Zune?” asks Pogue. “It seems like an awful lot of duplication—in a bigger, heavier form with fewer features—just to indulge Microsoft’s ‘we want some o’ that’ envy. Wireless sharing is the one big new idea—and if the public seems to respond, Apple could always add that to the iPod… The Zune 1.0 player is pretty barren, too. It doesn’t have a single standard iPod amenity: no games, alarm clock, stopwatch, world clock, password-protected volume limiter, equalizer, calendar, address book or notes module. Incredibly, you can’t even use the Zune as an external hard drive, as you can with just about every other player on earth.”

iLounge debuts iPod Stars feature

We’ve just debuted a new regular feature of the site: iPod Stars. Each week, we’ll be talking to celebrities about how they use their iPods, and what they’ve been up to.

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This week, we chatted with DJ AM, one of the most photographed celebrity DJs in the world, and Sean Avery, the “feisty,” “bad boy” L.A. Kings center and music fan, about their favorite iPods and accessories. Here are our quick Q&As - more are coming.

iLuv debuts Bluetooth headphones, ear clips

iLuv has introduced a new set of headphones and a new pair of ear clips that use Bluetooth wireless technology. The iPod-compatible headsets allow you to listen to your music wirelessly and can also be used with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. The iLuv i903 Noise-Canceling Headphones ($100) feature a swivel, over the head design and noise canceling technology. They also include a Bluetooth audio transmitter, soft-cushioned ear pads, and a mini-USB connection. The iLuv i202 Stereo Ear Clips ($90) feature a folding, swivel design and clip directly to the ear. The ear clips have integrated remote control functions (Play/Pause/Skip/Volume Controls) and come with a dongle-style Bluetooth audio adapter.

Microsoft to pay Universal for every Zune sold

In a move that could have a future impact on Apple, Microsoft has agreed to pay Universal Music Group a fee for each Zune media player it sells. “We felt that any business that’s built on the bedrock of music we should share in,” said Doug Morris, chief executive of Universal, owned by French media giant Vivendi. “We were very early in working with Steve on the launch of the iPod and he’s been a very good partner and done a lot for the industry,” Morris said in response to questions about Universal’s relationship with Apple. “We have a current contract with him and at the end of that I’m sure we’ll negotiate.” Apple currently only has revenue-share deals with record companies for music sold on the iTunes Store, and does not offer a portion of iPod sales to any company.

Update: The New York Times reports that Universal is expected to receive more than $1 for each $250 Zune sold, and that the deal “comes after weeks of tense talks and averts a standoff that might have crippled Microsoft’s attempt to compete against the iPod.” According to the Times report, Universal apparently threatened to not sell its music through the online Zune media store unless Microsoft paid a royalty for each Zune sold.

“Microsoft ultimately had plenty of incentive to make a deal with Universal,” reports the newspaper. “Microsoft is laying a huge wager on the Zune. If it had not struck a deal, it would have been left in the position of trying to mount a credible challenge to the iPod without Universal, which accounts for a third of new albums sold in the United States. Microsoft also stands to benefit by cultivating a fan-friendly image with the notion that artists—not just corporations—will share in the Zune’s sales.”

Apple offers iPod gift boxes

In addition to free laser engraving, Apple is offering $5 gift boxes with the purchase of iPods from its online store. Apple calls the signature gift boxes “origami-style” and includes simple red ribbon with each box. “For just $5, we’ll ship your iPod in our origami-style gift box,” the Apple Store says. “It’s great if you can’t be there when they open it, even better if you can watch their faces light up.”

Fox movies could be on their way to iTunes Store

News Corp. said Wednesday that it is having “positive talks” with Apple about bringing its Fox movie library to the iTunes Store. Peter Chernin, News Corp.‘s president and chief operating officer, disclosed the discussions with Apple during a financial conference call with analysts and reporters. Walt Disney is currently the only movie studio offering ful-length movies on iTunes. The Fox movie studio includes many titles, including hits like the “X-Men” and Star Wars” films. Several of News Corp.‘s Fox television shows, including “Prison Break” and “24” are currently available for download on iTunes.

Apple sees ‘tremendous’ interest in new iPod shuffle

Apple is seeing a large amount of consumer interest in its second-generation iPod shuffle and is upbeat about the upcoming holiday shopping season. “Response to it has been tremendous,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of worldwide product marketing, referring to the new shuffle, which started shipping late last month. “We’re really excited about the holiday period.” Schiller did not provide any specific sales figures.

Case-mate intros cases for 2G iPod nano

Case-mate today announced two new leather cases for the second-generation iPod nano. The Signature case (shown) is a form-fit case featuring an injection molded, impact resistant plastic shell, a screen and click wheel protector, as well as a belt clip with a 360-degree swivel. The case is available in black, white, and red for $25. Case-mate’s Luxe case is identical to the Signature case, but with Swarovski crystals arranged around the click wheel. The Luxe case is available in white with pink crystals, blue crystals or green crystals for $30.

Marware offers cases for (PRODUCT) RED iPod nano

Marware has announced new versions of its Sportsuit Sprinter and SportGrip cases designed to complement Apple’s iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition. The new Sportsuit Sprinter ($25) has a black neoprene body and color-coordinated red graphics. Designed for runners and active walkers, the case features an adjustable hand strap and Velcro closure. The new Sport Grip ($10) comes in a red translucent color, and features a “grippy, specially treated exterior that helps to prevent dust collection and provides an incredibly silky texture.”

iTurbo portable power source for iPods debuts

Voxred International has announced the iTurbo, a portable power source for iPods. The tube-shaped product is reusable, runs off of one AA battery, and has an “on/off” twist feature to preserve battery power. “When an iPod battery indicates that it’s low, simply plug one end of the iTurbo adapter into the iPod and the other end into the iTurbo,” explains the company. “The blue light on top of the iTurbo will become brighter, indicating that the iPod is receiving a safe flow of energy. The amount of additional playtime supplied by the iTurbo depends upon the make and model of the iPod. For example, when an iPod nano battery is low, the iTurbo can supply up to nine additional hours of playtime.” Available in black or white, the iTurbo sells for $30-$35.

Apple posts iPod+iTunes Latino TV ad

Apple has released a new television commercial to promote the recently launched iTunes Latino section on the iTunes Store. As with the now well-known iPod+iTunes TV spots, the ad features silhouetted iPod-toting dancers in front of colorful backgrounds. The ad features an up-tempo Spanish-language song and ends with the words “Tu ritmo. Tu Musica. Tu iPod. iPod+iTunes.”

myvu video eyewear pricing dropped

MicroOptical has reduced the price of its iPod-ready myvu video eyewear headset. Originally announced at $399, the myvu will now sell for $299.

“iLounge input, our new retail partners, and the fact that we are ahead of schedule with our manufacturing gives us the confidence to reduce the price of the myvu Made For iPod edition and we are seeing a very enthusiastic market response to this move,” said Bruce Lampert, VP Sales and Business Development.

Designed to work specifically with Apple’s video-enabled iPods, the headset offers a viewing experience comparable to a 27-inch screen from six feet away, and features noise-reducing earbuds, wired remote, protective case, and a battery pack for six hours of viewing time. See iLounge’s First Look for hands-on photos and further details.

Sundance Channel comes to iTunes Store

Sundance Channel today announced the availability of select television programming on the iTunes Store. Episodes of Sundance Channel documentary series “The Hill,” “The First Amendment Project,” and “The Staircase” are available starting today for $1.99 each. Additionally, Sundance Channel said that a sneak peek of the first episode of the six-part documentary series “One Punk Under God” will be available as a free download on iTunes from December 5th through the 12th. Episodes of the series, which debuts on December 13th, will be available on iTunes the day after they air on Sundance Channel.

Griffin reveals first iPod speaker systems

Griffin Technology has provided iLounge with exclusive details and pictures of its first iPod speaker systems. As revealed in our 2007 iPod Buyers’ Guide, the two new systems include a portable-sized system called the Voyager, and a larger, 2.1-channel tabletop system called the AmpliFi. Both are planned for release in the first quarter of 2007.

imageThe Voyager ($130) boasts a protective tactile rubber enclosure that also serves as a stand. The portable speaker system also offers a built-in, rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, wireless remote control, an adjustable iPod dock, auxiliary input, and Dock Connector port.

imageThe AmpliFi ($150) features an acoustically tuned wooden enclosure, two 2.75” speakers for the highs and mids, and a dedicated 5” woofer and port for bass. The system also sports a universal iPod-charging dock, stereo input jack for connecting other devices, and a wireless remote.

Microsoft to offer TV shows, movies through Xbox service

Microsoft has announced plans to sell TV shows and rent movies that can be downloaded onto an Xbox 360 through the company’s Xbox Live online video game service. Beginning Nov. 22, Xbox Live users will be able to choose from select shows distributed by MTV Networks, CBS, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Turner Broadcasting System, and Ultimate Fighting Championship. The programming, which will come in standard-definition and some in high-definition, includes shows such as “South Park” and “CSI,” and movies such as “V For Vendetta” and “Superman Returns.” Pricing of the content was not announced, though it is expected to be similar to iTunes Store pricing.

Mix: Santa Steve, Shuffle Case, Cars/Pirates, Microsoft Zune

All Apple employees, from corporate to retail, will reportedly receive a second-generation iPod shuffle as a gift from the company. According to AppleInsider, Apple CEO Steve Jobs sent out a company-wide email last week telling employees to expect their new shuffles by the end of the month.

A member of the Instructables website has found that the case that comes with Apple’s iPod In-Ear Headphones will also work great as a travel case for the second-generation iPod shuffle.

New 2G iPod nano cases debut in iLounge Buyers’ Guide

Several new cases for the second-generation iPod nano made their debut in iLounge’s 2007 iPod Buyers’ Guide, which was released last week. Among the new cases are offerings from Marware, Pacific Design, Power Support, PDO, H20 Audio, Sena, A.B. Sutton, Sumo Cases, and Core Cases. 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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Marware Slyder (1)
Made of crystal clear polycarbonate, the 2G nano case features a slide-down Click wheel access system and rotating Dock connector port cover. It sells for $25.

Pacific Design Molded Leather Skin (2)
The $30 leather case will come in at least three color combinations—pink/white, green/white and black/gray—and features a carabiner hook. It’s expected in early 2007.

Power Support Silicone Square Type, Round Type, and Crystal Jackets
Power Support has three protective cases coming out for the 2G nano. The Square Type ($25) is made of surgical grade silicone, the Round Type ($25) is made from rubber, and the Crystal Jacket ($20) is made from hard plastic. Each case includes Click Wheel protection, Crystal Film screen protectors, a detachable plastic clip, and a silicone Dock Connector port cover.

PDO Aluminum N2 (3)
Constructed of anodized aluminum, the case features a clear hard plastic screen protector and a silicone rubber Click Wheel guard. Three black cases will be available with black, pink, or blue Wheel covers. A silver case with a black guard will also be sold. The cases will sell for $30.

H20 Audio Outdoor Housing (4)
The $40 accessory is an “all-element resistant” (not waterproof) case targeted at active sports enthusiasts. The case, shipping in December, will come with an armband and Click Wheel control panel.

Sena MagnetFlipper (5)
The $35 leather case features a flip-shut lid that covers only the Click Wheel, leaving the screen showing with a clear integrated protector. More than 15 leather options are available, each sealed with a magnetic clasp.

A.B. Sutton Slip
The handmade Slip case ($68) features a cotton inner layer and leather exterior. The case features an integrated screen protector and a “cable tuck” on the back for earbud cord.

Sumo Cases Click Flip
The $30 case sports a full-grain leather exterior with a color-tinted Click Wheel protector, a magnetic latched flap, and neck strap. It will come in five colors—pink, black, blue, green and red.

Core Cases Aluminum Case
An updated version of Core’s aluminum case, it features a two-piece slide-in/slide-out design and features an anodized front and a polished back. Black and silver versions will be available for $20.

Nvidia to acquire PortalPlayer

Nvidia has agreed to buy PortalPlayer for about $357 million in stock. PortalPlayer, which supplies the audio chip used in the fifth-generation iPod, was hit hard this year when Apple picked Samsung to power the second-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod shuffle. Analysts said the news was the company’s “worst nightmare” because Apple accounted for more than 90% of PortalPlayer’s revenue at the time. Interestingly, it was reported earlier this year that Nvidia had beat out Broadcom to supply the multimedia chip inside the next-generation video iPod. “We believe the Nvidia chip adds 3D graphics functionality in addition to all of the existing features (such as H.264) that Broadcom supported with the existing vPod,” American Technology Research analyst Satya Chillara said at the time.

iDisguise intros theft deterrent iPod cases

iDisguise has introduced a new line of iPod cases designed to deter theft. The iDisguise anti-theft cases are made to look like candy tins and hold 1G and 2G iPod nanos securely. “While other iPod security products call attention to the device, iDisguise aims to avoid it,” explains the company. “By disguising your gear in what seems to be a candy tin, it will not appear to be something worth stealing.” The iDisguise cases are available in Wintergreen and Peppermint designs and sell for $11 each.

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