Now available is the twentieth iLounge podcast, co-hosted by our Bob Levens and Jeremy Horwitz. This week’s podcast discusses iPod shortages, the launch of the Xbox 360 and some surprises on Xbox-to-iPod compatibility, iTMS video downloads, Apple’s flash supply agreements and battery settlement appeal, car integration with Harman Kardon’s Drive + Play and TEN Technology’s flexibleDock, and more.
Past podcasts are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.
Apple is keeping the majority of its iPod inventory for its own retail stores, leaving third-party retailers without an ample supply during the busy holiday shopping season, according to one Wall Street analyst. In a research note obtained by iLounge, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster commented today that Apple appears to not be sharing enough of its iPod supply with its retail partners, as evidenced by a survey conducted over the weekend.
“Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we spoke with 10 Apple stores and MP3 player sales reps at 11 third-party iPod retailers (Best Buy, CompUSA, and Circuit City) regarding iPod availability,” Munster writes. “As we had expected, we found that at Apple retail stores iPod availability was very high. Specifically, all but 2 of the 10 Apple retail stores in our sample indicated that they had all iPods in stock throughout the holiday weekend. On the other hand, most third-party retailers in our checks indicated that they were sold out of various, and in some cases all, iPods,” the analyst said. “We believe Apple is channeling the majority of its iPod inventory to Apple retail stores vs. third-party iPod retailers.”
iHome Audio, maker of the iH5 clock radio and speaker system (iLounge Rating: A-), has released a new portable product designed specifically for the iPod shuffle. The iHome2Go iH18 is a portable speaker system and alarm clock that features a cradle/USB port for the shuffle, but lacks the AM/FM radio of the iH5. The iH18 runs off of AC power or batteries, charges the shuffle, folds up for travel and comes with a carrying case. While not yet on iHome’s website (or officially announced by the company), iLoungers report seeing the product at Target stores for $60. Gizmodo has more photos of the iHome2Go from a reader.
French authorities are expected to reduce a copyright levy imposed on flash music players as early as next week. The decision will reduce the tax on a 4GB iPod nano from over €50 (US$59) to about €8. “Last week, the French Commission on Private Copying adopted a proposal to reduce the levy on flash memory devices, aligning it with the levy on hard disk drives,” reports IDG News. “The decision is widely expected to be published Dec. 1 in the Official Journal, where French laws and regulations must appear before they take effect.”
Vaja’s new iVod case for the fifth-generation iPod is now available for pre-order. Like previous iVods, the new model features a high-quality padded leather body, screen protector, and access to all controls and ports. The case can be ordered in a a number of colors with an optional click wheel protector, name or logo personalization, and clip system. The iVod for 5G iPods is priced at $70, but you can save 10% by pre-ordering now. It is expected to ship in December.
Macworld UK has a report on last week’s opening of the first dedicated iPod store in the UK.
Disney plans to offer video content from its upcoming release of “The Chronicles of Narnia” for video-enabled iPods.
Apple’s 5G iPod and iPod nano are among USA Today tech columnist Edward C. Baig’s list of this year’s top gear.
BenQ reportedly plans to bow out of the MP3 player market because of the iPod juggernaut.
TiVo’s recently announced plan to allow users to download and transfer recorded TV shows and movies to iPods was not well received by all TV networks and film studios. Several TV and studio execs told Daily Variety that they were even considering legal action against the company.
“TiVo appears to be acting unilaterally, disregarding established rights of content owners to participate in decisions regarding the distribution and exploitation of their content,” an NBC Universal spokesman said. “This unilateral action creates the risk of legal conflict instead of contributing to the constructive exploitation of digital technology that can rapidly provide new and exciting experiences for the consumer.” [via PVR Blog]
As expected, Apple’s iPod nano was a hot item over the busy holiday shopping weekend. The nano was among the top-selling gadgets at Amazon.com, Best Buy and other large electronics retailers, completely selling out at many locations.
eBay also saw heavy demand for the device. The online auction giant reported that sales of the black 4GB nano were up 95% compared to last week, while sales of the white 4GB nano were up 88%. There was no change with the white 2GB nano, but demand for the black 2GB model was up 161%. eBay also said that sales of iPod accessories were up 29% over the weekend.
Tunewear has announced the Poptune 5G set, a new collection of its adhesive protectors for the fifth-generation iPod. Poptunes are removable and reusable, and provide protection against dirt and scratching. The “wearable wrappers” offer full access to all ports and controls, and come in a pack of 12 stylish patterns including “Liquid Pink,” “Technotic Green,” “Zebra,” “Sakura,” and “Tropical Camouflage.” The new Poptune 5G collection will be available next month for $20.
While no iPods are on sale today, Apple has discounted a number iPod accessories as part of its annual after-Thanskgiving sale.
Several speaker systems and earphones are on sale, including: JBL On Stage ($118; $30 off), JBL On Stage II with Remote ($138; $30 off), JBL Creature II Speakers ($78; $20 off), Shure E5C Earphones ($398; $100 off), Shure E4C Earphones ($238; $60 off), Shure E3C Earphones ($138; $40 off), and Shure E2C Earphones ($78; $20 off).
Apple has also temporarily cut prices on select iPod nano cases and iPod car accessories. Sales include: Incase iPod nano Neoprene Sleeve ($14; $5 off), Nike Sport Armband ($34; $5 off), Apple iPod nano Armband ($24; $5 off), Apple iPod nano Lanyard Headphones ($34; $5 off), Monster iCarPlay FM Transmitter ($58; $20 off), Griffin RoadTrip FM Transmitter and Charger ($58; $20 off) XtremeMac Car Charger ($14; $5 off), and Monster iCarPlay Cassette Adapter ($14; $5 off).
In addition, Apple has taken $100 off both its iMac and iBook, and is offering several discounted Mac accessories.
In this week’s look at the iLounge Discussion Forums: with “that time of the year” fast approaching, members have resurrected the Christmas iPod Support Group thread. Originally posted back in 2003, it seems to find its way back into favor each year. Do you need “support?”
Having trouble deciding which accessory to buy for your iPod? If you’ve read the Holiday Buyers’ Guide and reviews of accessories on the main site, but are still unsure, then put your question to the iLounge readers in one of the iLounge Accessory Discussion Forums. Hopefully we can help you decide.
Got a spare fifth generation iPod universal dock adaptor lying around, or do you just want to make your own dock? One reader set about creating a homemade dock for their 5G iPod from an old iPod carrying case box.
Need to find out how to convert video to play on your 5G iPod? If our recent Mac features weren’t enough, perhaps the “GUIDES TO: Converting Video for iPod - Mac & Windows” thread in the Discussion Forum for “Filling Your iPod - TV & Videos” will help.
We’d like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Thanksgiving! We have many things to be thankful for this year, but we’re especially lucky to have such wonderful readers, forum members, contributors and advertisers. We’ll return just as soon as we’ve recovered from the turkey and cranberry overdose.
We’re happy to announce that the new iLounge T-shirt is now available for order. The white shirt sports the iLounge logo with our “iLounge.com | All things iPod” slogan. It’s priced at $15 and comes in small, medium, large, extra-large and double extra-large sizes. The iLounge shirt is silkscreened on a soft, 100% cotton American Apparel tee. By purchasing the shirt and showing the world you’re an iLounger, you not only help promote the site, you also help support it. International orders are welcomed.
ZDNet UK reports that CyberBritain Group has given up its fight to regain the iTunes.co.uk domain name after it was awarded to Apple earlier this year.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog notes that the iTunes Music Store is experiencing some trouble with full album purchases.
Speck Products is offering iLounge readers 75% off all 4G iPod, iPod mini, and iPod shuffle cases until Dec 1 with coupon code BLACKFRIDAY2005.
Pacific Rim Technologies is taking up 70% off select iPod accessories from Nov. 25 to Dec. 2.
JAVOedge is offering a 10% discount on its iPod gear with coupon code HOLIDAY1121 until Dec. 5.
Best-selling author Scott Kelby has updated his iPod book with new tips and tricks covering the new 5G iPod, iPod nano, Motorola ROKR and iTunes 6. “The iPod Book: Doing Cool Stuff with the iPod and the iTunes Music Store (Second Edition)” sells for $15.
“This isn’t the kind of book that tells every little detail about the iPod. There’s no information on compression algorithms, analog vs. digital equalizers, or exporting your playlist in Unicode format. Instead, this book is a ‘just-tell-me-how-to-do-it’ guide to all the coolest, most requested features and functions of the iPod.”
Marware today introduced its new line of cases for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The lineup features “innovative materials chosen specifically to maintain the impressively slim profile of the iPod while providing maximum protection,” according to the company. A summary of the seven new cases, which will ship in December, is below.
Sportsuit Convertible (1)
Made of orca-skin neoprene, the case offers “rugged protection and a multitude of wearing and use options.” It features an armband, hand strap, belt clip, and removable lid with front storage pocket. The Sportsuit Convertible is available in black, blue or silver for $35.
Sportsuit Sleeve (2)
The Sportsuit Sleeve is a neoprene case that offers a velcro top closure, an earphone pocket, and a removable belt clip. The case sells for $20 and comes in either black or blue.
Sportsuit Basic (3)
The form-fitting neoprene case offers all-around coverage, a clear screen and click wheel protector, and a removable belt clip. The Sportsuit Basic is available in black for $20.
Sport Grip Backwinder (4)
Available in several colors, the silicone case sports a built-in cord winder to adjust the length of your earphones. The case comes with a static film to protect the screen, and sells for $20. Black, blue, white, pink and green colors are available.
The hard case features a “slide-and-hide arm” that stows away while cords are in use and slides out for cord storage. The Sidewinder also has a retractable kickstand that supports the case on a desktop for watching videos. It comes in black or white for $30.
CEO Classic (6)
The leather case has two removable lids—one with a storage pocket for earphones and one with a play–through click wheel protector. Available in black, it comes with a removable belt clip and sells for $35.
Sportsuit Santa (7)
The Santa Claus-inspired case is perfect for the holiday season and “makes an excellent stocking over the fireplace or as an ornament on the tree.” It comes with a lanyard, carabiner and belt loop, and sells for $20.
Several universities across the U.S. have begun distributing lectures in digital form so students can download and listen to them on their iPods. Critics complain that the “course casting” of lectures cuts down on vital interaction with professors, and also lets students get by with cutting more classes.
“Could ivy-covered lecture halls become as obsolete as the typewriter? This fall, a dozen colleges across the country have introduced a controversial new teaching tool called course casting, aimed at supplementing—and in some cases replacing—large, impersonal lectures,” writes Newsweek’s Peg Tyre. “Although it has been around for less than a year, course casting has become as popular as a keg party on homecoming weekend. Students at Purdue University have downloaded 40,000 lectures since the start of the semester—not bad for a school with an enrollment of 38,000. Drexel, Stanford, Duke and American University have begun course-casting programs, too.”
As anticipated last month, the South Korean government is investigating Samsung for allegedly selling NAND flash memory chips to Apple at below-market prices. “We are investigating whether Samsung has been unfairly supplying flash memory chips to Apple at cheaper prices than applied to domestic music player makers,” a spokesman at the South Korean Fair Trade Commission said.
Small South Korean digital music players makers have complained that the special pricing given to Apple is allowing the company to build iPods at price points that they cannot compete with.
Analysts doubted the investigation would have serious repercussions for Samsung. “I don’t think the FTC could impose any restrictions on Samsung as it’s a common business practice for companies to offer lower prices to big-volume customers such as Apple,” said Jay Kim, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.
Vaja has introduced the AP181 case for the fifth-generation iPod. Made of high-quality Argentine leather, the new case features a screen protector, access to all controls and ports, and is available in numerous colors. The AP181 can also be ordered with an optional click wheel protector, name or logo personalization, and clip system. Vaja’s AP181 case sells for $50 and is available for both the 30GB and 60GB iPod.
A new $1.99 Pixar short, entitled “Knick Knack,” has been added to the iTunes Music Store.
Apple’s fifth-generation iPod made Oprah’s annual Favorite Things list.
Sony BMG has been hit with lawsuits by both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Texas attorney general over its use of hidden copy-protection software on its music CDs.
CNET has posted answers to a number of common questions regarding TiVo’s announcement of iPod support with the company’s TiVoToGo service.