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Apple shares hit all-time high

Apple shares hit an all-time high today, helped by an upbeat analyst note about holiday iPod sales. Shares of Apple rose $1.56 to $85.61 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, reaching an all-time closing high. The stock was boosted by a report from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster that said Apple could sell as many as 14 to 15 million iPods this quarter. “While it is way too early to make a call on December quarter iPod results, we have analyzed the first month of NPD data (October) for the quarter and found that it suggests iPod units of 14-15 million,” Munster said in the report.

Reversible camo sleeve for 5G iPods offered

Wrappers has announced a reversible camouflage sleeve for fifth-generation iPods. The 100% stretch jersey cotton sleeve features a camouflage pattern in two colorways—woodland or desert camo. The sleeve is machine washable, cushioned with a 2 oz polyester interior lining, and fits all 5G iPod models. It sells for $15.

SeepuStar DV230 wearable video headset debuts

22Moo has announced the SeepuStar DV230, a new wearable video headset designed to work with video devices such as iPods, portable DVD players and game consoles. The headset allows you to watch videos on a virtual 35-inch screen and features an adjustable viewing angle and built-in earphones. “The SeepuStar DV230 allows the user to enjoy high quality digital, flicker free videos that is bright and breathtakingly clear,” says 22Moo. “The two enhanced definition displays gives the user a theatre experience that is personal and portable.” The SeepuStar DV230 is priced at $250.

Analyst expects iPod sales of 14-15 million units this quarter

iPod unit data from NPD for the month of October points to iPod sales of 14-15 million units for the current holiday quarter, according Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. “While it is way too early to make a call on December quarter iPod results, we have analyzed the first month of NPD data (October) for the quarter and found that it suggests iPod units of 14-15 million,” Munster said in a research note today. “When the second month of data is released, our analysis will likely lead to a slightly different iPod unit figure than what our analysis suggests based on the first month of data. Our current estimate is 14.7 million iPods in the quarter.” The analyst also said that the new second-generation iPod shuffle could have an impact on iPod numbers. “It is likely that the impact of the iPod shuffle, which shipped on 11/3, will have a material impact on the November and December NPD data and our current expectations for the quarter could prove to be low,” Munster said.

PGA Grand Slam of Golf to be offered on iTunes Store

Turner Sports and have announced that content from the 2006 PGA Grand Slam of Golf will be available on the iTunes Store. The two-day tournament begins on November 21, and beginning November 22, iTunes users will be able to purchase 25-30 minute highlight packages, “complete with defining moments and post-round interviews of each day’s action” for $1.99 each. Beginning today, iTunes customers can download a free instructional video starring PGA of America Director of Instruction Rick Martino, 2005 Teacher of the Year Peter Krause and PGA Professional Michael Breed.

Airlines caught off guard by Apple announcement

Two of the airlines included in Apple’s in-flight iPod connectivity announcement yesterday claim that they have not yet agreed to add such features to their planes. Apple said yesterday that beginning in mid-2007, six airlines—Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United—will offer passengers iPod seat connections for charging and video playback. However, Air France and KLM say they aren’t officially onboard.

“It’s way too early to confirm any such details,” said an Air France spokeswoman, referring to the connectivity and a mid-2007 availability date. “It’s very premature what Apple are saying,” said a KLM spokesman, noting that there have only been “informal contacts” between Apple and the airline. “We have no idea if this is technically feasible, if it’s financially viable, or if customers want it,” he said. “At this moment, we have absolutely no intention of introducing it on board.”

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr responded to the airlines with a statement. “Clearly we have had a miscommunication with AirFrance and KLM, but we are excited about announcing iPod integration with in-flight entertainment systems on Continental, Delta, Emirates and United today,” Neumayr said.

Surprise add-ons coming from iHome, Oakley, XtremeMac, Body Glove, Sonic Impact

A collection of new, previously unannounced iPod accessories has emerged on the web, with several surprises from major manufacturers. All of the products listed below are either now or soon to arrive at the Apple Store; availability at other retailers is currently unclear.

imageAs the maker of the excellent MicroMemo recorder for fifth-generation iPods and second-generation nanos (iLounge rating: A-), XtremeMac is releasing MemoMic ($30), a lapel microphone attachment for use with MicroMemo. MemoMic attaches to MicroMemo’s mic- or line-in port and enables personal voice recording without the need to hand-hold your iPod.

Previously responsible for eyewear and computer bags, Oakley is listed as selling the iPod case for iPod with video ($35), which will most likely feature the company’s distinctive formed plastic designs.

Body Glove, maker of some earlier and distinctive iPod cases, will be selling three types of iPod designs: Cargo, Glove, and Radical, at prices of $25 for second-generation iPod nanos and $30 for fifth-generation iPods. Radical uses black non-slip rubberized material, while Cargo is an armband/carabiner holder with suede-like neoprene for 5G iPods only, and Glove’s specifications are currently unknown.

iHome has debuted the iH6 ($100), a dual-alarm clock speaker system that brings most of the best features of its more expensive iH7 (iLounge rating: A-) to a less expensive package. Virtually identical to iH7 cosmetically, iH6 omits the larger model’s third bedside speaker, but preserves its second alarm, improved screen dimmer, equalization, first-generation iPod shuffle dock, and other features. It is in Apple Stores now.

Sonic Impact has released i-P22 Roxy Version ($100), a version of its lowest-end portable speaker system with a new exterior shell customized with graphics from leading surfwear company Roxy. Like iH6, i-P22 Roxy Version is in stores now.

Zune coverage: Today Show’s old iPods, CNN’s new shuffle

Microsoft’s marketing machine has gotten its new Zune media player in front of many eyes this week—from newspaper, web and magazine articles to TV commercials, special events, and coverage on news shows. Two somewhat contrasting Zune segments appeared this week on NBC’s “Today Show” and CNN’s “American Morning.”

The “Today Show” segment, featuring a pre-recorded report by NBC’s Peter Alexander, was impartial in facts, but twice showed the Zune sitting beside an older, fourth-generation iPod with monochrome screen instead of the latest video-capable fifth-generation iPod. Later in the segment, stock footage of an older iPod mini is also used. After Alexander’s report, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and Al Roker discuss the Zune, with Lauer saying, “We’re iPod guys.” Roker says the Zune’s wireless features are “Not enough for me” and that the Zune online store is “a little more unwieldy than the iTunes Store.” Lauer ends the segment with a statement about the relationship between NBC and Microsoft. “We should mention that Microsoft and NBC are joint partners in the website.”

On CNN’s “American Morning,” hosts Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien (no relation) talk with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times. Sorkin gives an overview of the Zune’s features while holding a Zune and showing it on camera. After the wireless features are downplayed and music compatibility problems are disclosed, the segment takes a turn when Soledad O’Brien pulls out her new second-generation iPod shuffle. “Now that’s the thing that’s a lot sexier than [the Zune],” Sorkin says. “Microsoft in the end will come out with something—I don’t know if it will be that pretty— but something.” Miles O’Brien asks, “Why don’t they get some decent design people to make things look better? It’s clunky.” Sorkin concludes with “No Comment.”

Watch both segments below.

NBC News video podcasts coming to iTunes

NBC News has announced that it will offer “NBC Nightly News” and “Meet the Press” as free video podcasts on the iTunes Store. NBC has been streaming its video on and offering both shows as audio podcasts, but this will be the first time that the shows will be available for video download. “NBC Nightly News” will be available every weeknight at 10 p.m. ET and “Meet the Press” will be available via video podcast at 1 p.m. ET, both after their West Coast airings. It will be the first full evening newscast available in a video podcast, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Report: Hon Hai to manufacture Apple iPhone

iPod manufacturer Hon Hai Precision has secured contracts from Apple to build 12 million music-playing mobile phones, according to a Commercial Times report. Quoting industry sources, the publication says Apple will launch the long-rumored “iPhone” in the first half of next year. Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision, which operates electronics factories under the Foxconn name, has been at the center of sweatshop claims because of reported poor working and living conditions at an iPod factory in China.

iPodJuice offers replacement batteries for 5G iPods

iPodJuice has added battery replacement kits for fifth-generation iPods. The company is offering a 550 mAh battery ($24) for 30GB iPod models and an 850 mAh battery ($28) for 60GB and 80GB models. iPodJuice also offers the batteries in complete replacement kits—with an iOpener installation tool, mini screwdriver, and detailed color instructions—for $5 more. You can also send your iPod into iPodJuice to have their technicians perform the battery replacement for as little as $20. In most cases, batteries are replaced the same day that they are received and shipped back to the customer on the following business day, according to the company.

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer: Zune can beat iPod

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says he can break the dominance of the iPod with the Zune media player that hits stores today. “We can beat them, but it’s not going to be easy,” Ballmer said. “The market will have two big players for a long time, us and Apple. Obviously we’re the David in this one. Apple’s the Goliath.” Analysts, however, say Microsoft will struggle to win sales. “They’re not going to take a lot of share from Apple,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions. “If they get double-digit market share overall in a year they’ll be very pleased.” Microsoft may take 5 to 10 percent of the market in the first year, said Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. Meanwhile, UBS AG analyst Benjamin Reitzes expects Apple to sell 15.6 million iPods this quarter, topping the record 14 million sold in the 2005 holiday season.

iSnake hands-free iPod holder announced

Atavistic Applause has introduced the iSnake, a new hands-free iPod holder featuring a 27-inch flexible metal gooseneck. “One end is attached to a heavy-duty plastic clamp capable allowing the user to secure the device to almost any structure that is less than 1 3/4” wide (table, desk, cabinet edge, lounge chair arm, loft, night stand, bed frame, headboard, elliptical machine, golf cart, lawn mower, you get the idea),” explains the company. The iSnake works with full-size iPods, iPod nanos, and other similarly sized MP3 players. It sells for $45.

Apple teams up with airlines for in-flight iPod connectivity

Apple said today that it has partnered with Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United to deliver in-flight iPod connectivity. Beginning in mid-2007, the six airlines will offer passengers iPod seat connections which power and charge their iPods during flight and allow the video content on their iPods to be viewed on the their seat back displays.

“There is no better traveling companion than an iPod, and now travelers can power their iPods during flight and even watch their iPod movies and TV shows on their seat back displays,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing. “We’re excited to work with Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United to offer iPod users an even better in-flight experience.”

The Beatles set to join digital music revolution

Music fans will soon be able to download digital versions of classic songs by the Beatles. David Munns, head of EMI Music’s North American division, said at a web industry conference in San Francisco that the Beatles’ catalog would be available for download “soon.” Munns did not offer specifics such as a timeframe or which online music stores would be selling the Beatles tracks. Following its legal win earlier this year against the Beatles’ Apple Corps, Apple expressed interest in selling the band’s music on the iTunes Store. “We certainly will do everything we can to get them on iTunes,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes, said in May. “The Beatles aren’t available in any digital format today but they are going to be one day. We certainly hope that happens on iTunes.”

VUUM debuts iPod-compatible vacuum tube stereo

VUUM Audio has introduced a new iPod-compatible vacuum tube amplifier stereo system with speakers. The VUUM VTi-B1—which produces “glowing sound with real bass, natural midrange and dynamic highs”—features a vacuum tube amplifier (15W x2) with dual inputs, an adjustable iPod docking station that allows for charging of your iPod with video output, a pair of speakers in a “piano finish” cabinet, 27-button remote control, dust brush and glove cleaning kit, RCA cables and a pair of high quality speakers cables with banana ends. The system will sell for $700.

Apple seen selling 20 million iPods during holiday quarter

Apple could sell 20 million iPods, worth about $3.3 billion in revenue, this holiday quarter, according to one analyst. Carl Howe of Blackfriars Communications says Apple could have a blowout quarter based on past quarterly sales, new iPod pricing that addresses more market segments, and the growing number of Apple retail stores. Howe also says that consumers have more reasons than ever to choose the iPod—music, TV shows, movies, and a plethora of accessories.

“Yes, the iPod is a mature product, and I’m sure we’ll see new refreshes of both the product and the consumer experience next year. But mature products are the ones that make big dollars,” Howe says. “Apple is well on its way to reaping the profits from five years of investments in music and retail. And because few other companies have invested as much for as long, it will also take years for anyone to dislodge it from its now dominant position.”

Apple to give iTunes customers credit for singles

Apple has reportedly been working with record labels to give iTunes customers credit for previously purchased singles when they subsequently buy the entire album. “It’s one of the problems of the digital-music era,” reports CNET “You buy a couple of songs from an album at 99 cents each. After listening to them a few times, you think you might want the album. Trouble is, you’ve either got to buy the other nine tracks individually or pay the full $9.99 for the album. Either way, you don’t get any credit for the songs you’ve bought, making you somewhat less likely to buy the album… Apple Computer and the record labels are onto this. Supposedly, iTunes customers may soon be able to buy the album and get credit for any single tracks they have bought.”

Win a MacBook, iPods or earphones in iLounge contests

We recently launched two new contests with some great prizes:

To celebrate our upcoming fifth birthday, we’ve launched the iLounge 5th Birthday Contest. Prizes include a white Apple MacBook and 80GB iPod pack, an 80GB black iPod, and a 4GB iPod nano in your color of choice. To enter, you must design an effective, interesting online ad for iLounge.

The second contest we recently kicked off is the Musician Match Game Contest. The object of the game is to match the custom Ultimate Ears earphones to the musician who wears them. A winner will be randomly drawn from correct entries. First and second prizes will be randomly drawn from all other entries. Prizes include one pair of Ultimate Ears UE 10 Pro earphones, custom fitted for your ears and free personalization, one pair of 5 Pro earphones, and one pair of 5 EB earphones.

Vaja debuts iVod Silver case for 5G iPod

Vaja has introduced the iVod Silver, a new version of its flagship case for the fifth-generation iPod. Made from Argentine leather like previous iVod cases, the Silver version features polished sterling silver accents around the screen and Click Wheel. The form-fitting case provides access to the Dock Connector, headphone jack and hold switch. It can also be ordered with an optional belt clip and personalized with text or graphics. The iVod Silver case is priced at $240 and is available in sizes to fit the 30GB iPod or 60GB/80GB iPod.

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