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Video dating site for iPod users launched

PodDater.com is a new video dating service that offers downloadable clips of potential matches formated for the video-capable iPod.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a video worth when looking for love? Or making new friends? Imagine a site that allows you to look, listen to, and watch videos of potential matches… and the best part is that you can do it on the go. PodDater is the world’s first dating/social networking site that brings together the growing popularity of the online dating space and the enormous success of the iPod. Visitors to PodDater can come to our community, become a member, identify potential matches and then download them to their iPods. All for free.”

DLO Action Jacket for new iPods announced

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today introduced the DLO Action Jacket for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The cushioned neoprene case sports a built-in screen protector, a removable belt clip and a slim armband. The DLO Action Jacket is available immediately in four different colors—red, blue, black and grey. The case sells for $30.

“The DLO Action Jacket for the iPod preserves the glass finish of the iPod’s screen and front surface,” says the company. “It fully protects the iPod during any activity and may be used as an everyday case for the new video iPods. It allows hands-free mobility for owners who use the armband for sports activities like jogging, biking, hiking or working out. The sturdy belt clip offers the option of wearing the iPod on the hip or on a belt, bag, pocket, almost anywhere. And, the included workout armband fits any arm size and is easy to adjust.”

EMI expects Apple to hike prices on iTunes within a year

Record label EMI Group expects Apple to raise the price of popular songs and cut prices of less popular tracks on the iTunes Music Store within a year. The Wall Street Journal reports [paid sub. req.] that EMI Music CEO Alain Levy had discussed the issue with Apple CEO Steve Jobs and believes Apple will end its single 99-cent pricing.

“We are having discussions which make us believe it will happen in the next 12 months,” Levy reportedly said at a press conference in London for the company’s half-year profit results. “There is a common understanding that we will have to come to a variable pricing structure. The issue is when. There is a case for superstars to have a higher price.”

iPod and iTunes No. 1 in Japan

Apple today announced that the iPod and iTunes are leading the digital music market in Japan with iPod market share at nearly 60 percent, according to Business Computer News (BCN).

“Since the launch of the iTunes Music Store this summer and introduction of the iPod nano and fifth generation iPod, market share in Japan has grown rapidly, solidifying iPod’s position as the number one digital music player in Japan by a wide margin,” Apple said in a statement on Wednesday. “iTunes is the number one online music service in Japan and its library has grown steadily with the addition of dozens of independent labels.”

iPod retail chain launching in UK

PopXpress, a new chain of stores in the UK dedicated to the iPod and iPod accessories, has announced the opening of its first store. Located at London’s Liverpool Street, the shop is the first of 12 stores and will open on November 21.

“We are thrilled to be opening this store concept at such an exciting time in the iPod’s development,” said Jonathan Cole, CEO of popXpress. “The iPod has created a new market for consumer mobile music players and has resulted in an array of accessories. We have been planning the rollout for over a year and our plan is to have a second London West End store open before Christmas and 12 more stores nationwide by the end of 2006.

Motorola readying new ROKR phone, plans Apple-style launches

Motorola plans to address criticisms of its poorly received iTunes-enabled ROKR phone with a new model. BusinessWeek reports that Motorola will introduce a revamped version of the ROKR in the first quarter of 2006.

“Expect a phone with a 1 megapixel camera, a 3.5 millimeter earphone jack (same as the iPod uses), and enough storage capacity to hold 1,000 songs—all capabilities Motorola has confirmed. The current phone’s basic design will be replaced by a sleek new look, which sources close to the company say will be an elegant slider format.”

In related news, Ron Garriques, head of Motorola’s mobile devices division, said that his company also plans to take a cue from Apple and begin selling headsets the day after introducing them instead of announcing them well in advance.

Tatuz offers iNanu, TuneShirt

Tatuz International today announced two new iPod products—the iNanu and TuneShirt.

imageThe iNanu is a 2-piece protective vinyl overlay for the iPod nano designed to protect your nano from scuffs and scratches. The iNanu is available in three different 3-packs: clear, black and white; clear, inverted cow and flowers; and 3 clear overlays. Each 3-pack sells fro $10.

imageThe TuneShirt is a $20 T-shirt with a specially designed pocket on the sleeve to hold an iPod nano or iPod shuffle. Made from 100% cotton, TuneShirts come in four different styles: plain black, plain white, black with the GoTunes print and white with the GoTunes print. 

Podcast Expo an ‘unexpected hit’

Approximately 2,500 people from 20 countries and 55 exhibitors attended last week’s Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference in Ontario, California. Organizers of the show reportedly anticipated only 1,000 attendees.

“We had two groups of people attending,” show organizer Tim Bourquin told Marketwatch. “The first was folks who just want to do better podcasts and who wanted to meet other podcasters. Then there were the corporate folks who work for companies which want to get into podcasting and do it in a way that puts them in a good light.”

Bourquin said next year’s event, scheduled for Sept. 29 and 30, will be larger and better structured. “We were sold out this time, and lots of people couldn’t attend the sessions they wanted to,” he said. “We’ll probably be creating ‘tracks’, maybe five or six. One for hobbyists, one for the business side of things. With more room, we’ll be able to break it down.”

Vaja iVod for iPod nano now available

imageVaja has announced the availability of its iVod case for Apple’s iPod nano. The iVod for iPod nano, which was first revealed in the iLounge Holiday Buyer’s Guide, features a high-quality padded leather body, screen protector, and access to all controls and ports. The $55 case can be ordered in a slew of colors with an optional click wheel protector, name or logo personalization, and clip system. Vaja also said that a version of the iVod for the fifth-generation iPod will ship later this month.

iPod still leading MP3 player mindshare at retailers

Following his second MP3 player retail recommendation survey, Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster says that Apple is easily holding its ground in U.S. retail stores, with iPod mindshare rising when it comes to high end devices. Like the first survey in June, Munster collected recommendations from reps at 50 non-Apple retail stores such as Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, and Fry’s Electronics about what portable digital audio devices they recommend to customers and why.

“In our Nov-05 retail survey, 68% of sales reps recommend purchase of an iPod or nano vs. any other portable audio device priced over $150. This is up from 63% of salespeople that recommended purchase of an iPod or mini in Jun-05,” Munster writes in a research noted provided to iLounge. “In the low end category, we saw iPod mindshare fall from 52% in Jun-05 to 38% in Nov-05. We believe this change is the result of 2 key items: 1) with the Nov-05 survey we changed the survey question to include only the shuffle on the low end vs. the shuffle and the 4GB mini in the Jun-05 survey, and 2) we believe the nano is stealing some mindshare from the shuffle within the iPod family.”

Munster said that the most common reasons given by MP3 player sales reps on why they recommend iPods are: video capability, ease of use, and a large assortment of accessories. Conversely, the analyst said that those who don’t recommend iPods point to two missing features—an FM radio tuner and screen (vs. iPod shuffle with no screen).

Mix: Dell, iPodder Lemon, Samsung, FairPlay DRM

A Dell executive said today that his company is far behind in digital music and that the iPod has reinvigorated Apple. “We’re obviously not competing very well [with the iPod],” Dell Chief Financial Officer Jim Schneider said. “Apple has come out with a nice product and I think it’s really turned their company around.”

CNET News.com reports that iPodder Lemon, a popular open source podcasting application, has been forced to change its name due to pressure from Apple.

Samsung and Apple are expected to sign a long-term contract worth “several hundred million US dollars” by the end of this month to supply NAND flash chips for iPods, according various media reports.

Newsweek’s Steven Levy criticizes Apple for refusing to license its FairPlay digital rights management technology: “Jobs’s explanation is that it’s not something users are asking for, and if a groundswell of users clamor for compatibility, he’ll consider it. Take my word for it, Steve—when people pay for music, they want it to be playable on any device they choose.”

ezGear intros clearCase for iPod nano

imageezGear has announced a new version of its clearCase for the iPod nano. Made of clear acrylic, the hard case offers full protection and has openings for the click wheel, dock connector port and headphone jack. The clearCase for iPod nano comes in two models—clearCase nano and clearCase nano Sport. The clearCase ($25) comes with a lanyard and is available now. The clearCase nano Sport also includes an integrated secure armband. It will ship later this month for $33.

Emerson Radio plans iPod accessory line

Emerson Radio has announced plans to launch a complete line of iPod-compatible audio products in 2006.

“The new Emerson product line includes clock radios, portable boomboxes, home audio systems and other consumer electronic devices,” the company explains. “Each of these products will employ a custom-fit “docking station” to afford consumers the convenience of simultaneously recharging their iPods, while playing them through their new Emerson appliance for a high quality sound experience.”

TEN Technology intros flexibleDock for iPods

TEN Technology today announced the flexibleDock, an adjustable iPod car dock and charger that replaces the companys flexDock for iPod mini. The flexibleDock works with all all dockable iPods—3G/4G/5G iPods, iPod mini and iPod nano. The accessory is priced at $50 and will begin shipping this week.

“As with all TEN products, form and function are of the utmost importance,” the company says. “The flexibleDock works with most standard cigarette lighter sockets to charge the iPod. In addition, the flexibleDock holds the iPod securely on a slender adjustable metal arm, allowing for easy positioning in the vehicle, increasing convenience and safety. The dark grey color of the flexibleDock blends nicely with most car interiors.”

XtremeMac announces MicroWallets for iPod nano

imageAs the latest additions to its expansive lineup of iPod nano cases, XtremeMac has announced MicroWallet ($20-30), three types of flip-open cases. MicroWallet Leather is available in four colors (distressed saddle, distressed brown, distressed dark brown and black), each with an elastic closure band and low-profile steel belt clip; Pastel is available in pink and lime with a snap closure and carabineer clip, and the canvas-bodied Accent is available in two color combinations for only $20 with a belt clip and elastic closure.

Portable Media Expo and Podcast Conference Concludes

Before the Portable Media Expo and Podcast Conference concluded last night, we spoke with visiting representatives of several companies about their upcoming products. Here’s what’s new and hot.

Core Cases: The iPod and games division of InnoPocket updated us on its Aluminum Case for iPod nano (sub-$20), previewed in our Holiday Buyers’ Guide. Last-minute tweaks before release have added further protection and features, including the ability to mount vertically or horizontally on a belt. The company is also planning to produce user-submitted (and other) protective stickers for Click Wheels and the faces of certain other cases, such as its Sony PSP hard case.

A1QP: A-1 Quality Products showed off two new versions of its iKeychain holder for the iPod nano (iLounge rating: B+). One of the two cases is plated with strong, attractive gold. The other is encrusted with Swarovski crystals, and was in the process of being tested for durability. Prices will be a lot higher than for the standard iKeychains, but people will like the new glitter.

Pacific Rim Technologies: The company’s top product was its upcoming Nano Cradle, a complete dock and iPod remote control set devoted to the iPod nano. In addition to a physically nice design, the Nano Cradle has rear ports for both data and audio out, as well as a matching, medium-sized remote control for volume, track forward/backward, and play/pause. Oh - and it’ll be available in black, too. If the company does in fact sell Nano Cradle for the $40 price we’re hearing, we predict great things. Pacific Rim also showed off a 5G magnesium case, which like its 4G version has a hard clear plastic front for easy viewing (and strong protection) of the iPod’s screen. There’s still no top, Click Wheel, or Dock Connector protection, but the case looks nice.

Thought Out: The makers of FlexPed and Ped 2 were showing off new Fury speakers ($480) developed by Soundruid - a set of two satellite speakers and a large, substantial subwoofer that combine for 2.1 channel sound. While the enclosures of the speakers weren’t quite our style in looks (they look like small birdhouses, but feel a bit stronger), and there’s no iPod-specific component such as a dock, they can be significantly color-customized and even produced in natural wood tones.

A gallery of photos from the Expo is now available online for your enjoyment. A podcast of our Panel Discussion with leading iPod accessory makers is being handled by the Expo hosts and will hopefully be available online soon. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the iLounge booth: we enjoyed meeting you and hope you enjoyed the Lounge!

Portable Media Expo & Podcast Conference Roundup [updated]

Several iPod accessory makers and digital audio companies made announcements and revealed new products today at the Podcasting & Portable Media Expo in Ontario, California. iLounge is at the event and has rounded up all of the show news below. We’ll be updating this story as other announcements are made.

Griffin Technology
Griffin Technology announced that its new iTrip FM transmitter is now shipping. The new iTrip, which connects through the dock connector port and features a backlit LCD screen, works with all dockable iPods—3G/4G/5G iPods, iPod mini and iPod nano. It sells for $50. The company also showed off its RoadTrip all-in-one car solution in a charcoal color and delivered its iVault for the iPod shuffle in three new colors—green, blue and purple.

Speck Products
Speck announced at the show that it is now shipping its new ToughSkin for the 5G iPod. The rugged rubberized skin sells for $35 and has a screen protector and a detachable belt clip. The company is also shipping its See-Thru cases for the iPod nano. The tinted hard cases come in 3-packs of various colors for $30. Speck was also showing prototypes of its Cloud FunSkin and See-Thru cases for the 5G iPod.

Tunewear
Tunwear today announced the Tetran earbud cable winder. The spiked creature lets you wrap your earbud cords around its to reduce cable mess. It comes in pink, green, yellow, and orange for $13. The company also showed off its recently announced Icewear for the iPod nano and its leather Ambassador case for the 5G iPod.

Power Support
Power Support used the event to introduce its Crystal Film Cover Set for the 5G iPod. The 3-piece set covers the front, back and click wheel to protect the new iPod from dirt and scratches. The adhesive side is made of a newly developed, static cling polymer plastic for easy installation and removal. The company also has on hand its Kimono 2 case in new colors for the 4G iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle, and a new car cupholder for the iPod nano and 5G iPod.

Audible
Audible today announced AudibleWordcast, “a pioneering set of Web-based tools that enables podcasters to build multiple revenue streams around capabilities such as advertising management, dynamic ad-insertion, underwriting and secured transactions.” The company said: “For the first time, podcasters will be able to manage, accurately measure, and monetize their audio content without significant infrastructure investments, allowing them to focus their resources and energy on creating superior audio programming.”

Belkin
Belkin is showing off its Auto Kit in black. The $40 product lets you charge your iPod in the car and provides an adjustable amplifier and 3.5mm audio-out jack for use with a cassette adapter or FM transmitter. The company also debuted an XM Satellite Radio Boombox.

BlueTake
BlueTake used the event to introduce the iPhono mini, an updated version of its Bluetooth iPod headset. The product uses a top-mounted receiver that requires a 3G/4G iPod or iPod mini. The iPhono mini features a less rigid earphone system with a loose cable instead of hard plastic neck piece.

Otterbox
While the company did not have any on hand, Otterbox provided shipping dates for its upcoming waterproof iPod cases. The company said it will be shipping its Otterbox for iPod nano in December and the Otterbox for 5G iPod in February.

Battery Technology Incorporated
Battery Technology Incorporated (BTI) told iLounge it is updating its powerful iPod Battery ii to turn it into a combination stand/add-on battery unit. Targeted at 5G iPod users, the product adds 40-50 hours of additional playback time to full-size iPods.

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iLounge Giveaway Winners
Friday winners: Peter Kong, Rick Balian, Marilyn Madsen, Doug Dobbies, Derek Dukes, Adam Raimer, Ralph Maese, Thuy Tran, and Greg Pene.

Analyst sees terabyte iPod in Apple’s future

Apple could possibly create an iPod with 1 terabyte of storage, as well as a true “iPhone” says one analyst. “A terabyte iPod might sound crazy today, but we believe in five years a terabyte iPod will emerge as a portable home media center,” says Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster in an research report obtained by iLounge. “We continue to believe that Apple will enter the mobile phone market. We would not expect an ‘iPhone’ to be launched for at least 12-18 months.”

The report also discusses possible future plans for iTunes and the Mac mini. “The key to iTunes in the next 12-24 months will be gaining access to more video content… Apple will work with networks, film studios, and other content providers to coerce them into offering more content via iTunes,” continues Munster. “Expect Mac to become a hub for consumer digital media as Front Row technology gets incorporated into the Mac Mini.” The report also mentions a possible AirPort Express for video to stream video from iTunes to TV.

iPod nanos now shipping with protective sleeve

In response to widespread complaints about the scratchability of the iPod nano’s clear front surface, Apple has quietly added a protective fabric sleeve to the packages of all iPod nanos. As first noted in the iLounge forums, the slip cases are identical to the ones included with fifth-generation iPods.

Apple last month was hit with a class-action lawsuit for the nano’s susceptibility to scratching. The lawyers representing consumers in the suit filed a similar class-action lawsuit last week on behalf of United Kingdom and Mexico.

Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference tomorrow, booths opening

imageIf you’re in Southern California on November 11 or 12, we invite you to drop by the iLounge booth (Booth 113) at the Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference in Ontario, California. Surrounded by iPod accessory makers Belkin, blueLounge, BTI, Contour Design, Griffin, Macally, Otter Products, Power Support, Speck Products, Thought Out, Tunewear, and Ultimate Ears, the iLounge booth will host many giveaways, a full lounge space for weary attendees, and members of the iLounge editorial staff.

iLounge will also be hosting a panel discussion, “Expanding the iPod: From Tech Toy to Icon, Music to Multimedia,” with leading iPod accessory manufacturers. The panel will convene in Room 107 from 11:45AM to 12:45PM on November 11 (Friday), and is open to attendance by paid conference attendees. TNC New Media’s Official Site for the event contains additional details and travel directions.

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