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Japanese musicians defy record companies to join iTunes

Some Japanese musicians are trying to get their music on the iTunes Music Store, despite being under contract with Sony and other labels that haven’t signed agreements with Apple.

“At least one artist has already gone against his label to offer his songs on iTunes,” reports the Associated Press. “And a major agency that manages Japanese musicians said Wednesday it was interested in a possible deal with Apple, regardless of the recording companies’ positions.

Japanese rocker Motoharu Sano, who has a recording contract with Sony, said he is making some of his songs available on iTunes. “It is an individual’s freedom where that person chooses to listen to music. I want to deliver my music wherever my listeners are,” Sano said.

RadTech offers Ice Creme 2 restoration solution

imageRadTech has announced the availability of Ice Creme 2, a new version of its solution for removing scuffs and scratches from devices such as the iPod. The company says that the new version works 5x faster than the original formula when restoring damaged surfaces.

“Ice Creme enables most anyone to quickly and easily remove the scuffing, scratching and abrasion that tends to occur on highly polished acrylic panels, like those used in several consumer devices and popular computers,” says Radtech. “It quickly restores scuffed-up acrylic and plated metal products to like new condition. Ice Creme works great for occasional touch-ups, or when selling used gear. A typical, moderately damaged iPod requires approx. 15-20 minutes to fully restore.”

Ice Creme is available in two versions—regular ($20.95) for acrylic and minor metal damage, and “Ice Creme M

Report: Apple unsuccessful in patenting iPod interface

Following a lengthy attempt of nearly three years, Apple has reportedly failed to patent the software interface of the iPod.

“The company’s patent application, which lists Apple VP Jeff Robbin and Apple CEO Steve Jobs as two of its primary inventors, received a final rejection last month from the United States Patent and Trademark Office,” reports AppleInsider. “Standing in Apple’s way appears to be a prior filing by inventor John Platt, who submitted a patent application for a similar software design for a portable device in May of 2002—just five months before Robbin submitted his claims on behalf of Apple.”

Platt’s application describes his invention as a system that “generates playlists for a library collection of media items via selecting a plurality of seed items, at least one which is an undesirable seed item,” according to the Apple enthusiast site. “The process by which the iPod’s software displays its own menu-based interface is very similar to the process Platt’s filing goes on to describe.”

Mix: iTunes podcasts, Calling iTunes, Make magazine, Nokia

The iTunes top 100 podcast ranking system appears to be easily manipulated: “It looks like iTunes doesn’t record how many people are actually subscribed to a podcast but rather how many times the button is pressed.”

Slate’s Timothy Noah, who seeks out hard-to-find customer service phone numbers, is on a mission to find a number for the iTunes Music Store.

Phillip Torrone of Make magazine writes: “We’re doing enhanced podcasts that not only have spoken word versions of articles in Make, but the full pages of the magazine in the podcast.”

Standard & Poor’s Equity Research says it’s possible that Nokia “could gain more market share if its planned launches of MP3 player-enabled handsets take share from iPods.”

Logitech debuts new portable speaker systems

Logitech has introduced two new portable speakers systems—one specifically designed for use with the iPod and one for any MP3 player.

imageThe mm50 iPod speaker system uses Max-X high-excursion drivers, which include neodymium magnets and three inch pressure drivers, to provide “fully balanced audio, maximum bass response and minimal distortion.” The mm50 features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 10 hours, and you can simultaneously recharge the iPod battery and speaker battery when powered by the included AC adapter. The system works with any iPod with a Dock Connector port and also comes with a travel case and a wireless remote control. The mm50 will ship in September for $149.99.

imageLogitech’s mm28 portable speaker system features an ultra-thin design and can be used with the iPod and any other device with a standard 3.5mm audio jack. Measuring less than 1.25-inches thin, the mm28 speakers use stereo NXT flat-panel technology that produces “rich tones and lush bass.” The speaker system can be powered by either the included AC adapter or by four AA batteries—it can last up to 45 hours on a single set of batteries. The mm28 will be available in September for $79.99.

Apple to offer refunds on taxed iPods in Canada

Apple will soon begin providing refunds to Canadian customers who bought iPods when levies were being imposed on digital music players in the country.

“Apple is pleased that the Supreme Court of Canada let stand a lower court ruling that blank media levies on iPods are invalid, and will shortly announce a claims process so consumers can request a refund for the levies they paid,” Apple said in a statement.

Late last month, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear any further arguments over the levy, ending a dispute over the so-called iPod tax, which has collected approximately $4 million in total.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) has collected a tax on MP3 players since December 2003 on behalf of musicians and record companies. The organization was forced to stop charging the levy in December 2004 by the Canadian Federal Court.

Apple continues to hold ‘substantial lead’ over competitors

Following meetings last week with digital music companies such as Apple and RealNetworks, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said he is “more convinced than ever that Apple has a substantial lead and advantage” over competitors.

In a research report obtained by iLounge, Wu said that the tightly integrated combination of the iPod, iTunes and iTunes Music Store shows no sign of giving up ground to competing companies and formats. “This is despite competitive efforts over the past 2-3 years and continued efforts to erode its dominance,” he said.

“Progress is being made by the Windows Media camp, but coordination and integration are proving difficult because of the many vendors involved including systems, semiconductor, software, content, and service providers, with their various agendas and diverse geographies,” Wu said.

Wu also said that Apple could introduce more than just new iPods at the Apple Expo this September. “We believe Apple could use the upcoming keynote by Steve Jobs at the Apple Expo 2005 event in Paris to make a significant announcement beyond just new iPods,” Wu said. “We believe this could be new markets including music subscriptions and video and the ever-elusive Motorola iTunes cell phone.”

Green Day ‘American Idiot’ iPod case available

imageGreen Day’s official online store is now offering an iPod case emblazoned with the graphics from its latest album, American Idiot, which has spawned such hits as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Holiday (Faded Ending).” The screen-printed leather case features a flip-top, PDA-style front cover and belt loop. It works with fourth-generation iPods and has an opening for the headphone jack and Dock Connector port. The Green Day American Idiot case is priced at $35.

Party-Pod Pro 5.0 released

Party-Pod Pro 5.0 is the latest version of the software that “gives your iPod a database of partygoer necessities.

Macally debuts Icesuit for iPod shuffle

imageMacally has announced the availability its Icesuit for the iPod shuffle. The $19.99 silicone sleeve “protects your iPod shuffle against everyday hazards and scratches” and is available in three different colors—green, pink and clear. The Icesuit provides access to all controls and comes with an elastic adjustable armband.

Mix: DOOM, Space podcast, New Zealand, iDuck

The iPod Linux group has ported a “mostly playable” version of DOOM to the iPod.

NASA’s official website reports: “One day before landing, STS-114 Mission Specialist Steve Robinson transmitted the first podcast from space.”

Apple is one step closer to launching an iTunes Music Store in New Zealand after acquiring the domain name from an individual.

The iDuck is a very iPod-like rubber duck that even comes in Apple look-alike packaging. [via Gizmodo]

Japan iTMS sells 1 million songs in four days

Apple today announced that more than one million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the Japanese iTunes Music Store since it launched four days ago.

“iTunes has become Japan’s number one online music store in just four days,

Forums: Bigger iPod mini?, iPod Lullaby, Bedtime Tunes, Podjacking

This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums: the possibility of a 8 or even 10GB iPod mini is raised. Would you be tempted by the smaller form factor of the iPod mini to avoid a full-sized iPod?

A few readers are using iPods to fall asleep. While going to sleep while wearing earphones should be avoided, what other ways do you use the iPod to help you drift off?

In a related topic, there’s a discussion on Music To Sleep To. Have you compiled a definitive playlist to ‘rock’ you to sleep?

The subject of “Jack Sharing” (or Podjacking) was mentioned recently in a popular U.K. Mac magazine, a topic originally raised by a Lounger in the forums nearly 2½ years ago. Have you had any experience of a stranger asking to plug into your iPod? Or do you think it’s just an urban myth?

iSkin reveals ‘Vibe’ iPod case line

imageiSkin has provided iLounge with an exclusive preview of its upcoming line of iSkin Vibe iPod protectors. The company said it has partnered with the talented designers from Toki Doki to create the colorful sleeves, which feature Toki Doki’s unique anime-style characters in a variety of designs.

Similar to Griffin’s Chameleon cases, the iSkin Vibes are made from a special material similar to PU. Vibes will be released for the iPod mini and iPod shuffle in September. Pricing is expected to be $19.99 for the mini (belt clip and lanyard included) and $14.99 for the shuffle.

Click the link below to view large photos of several of the new cases.

Mix: Sony, iTunes pricing, Podcast pros, Spoilers, Real

The Japan Times reports that Japanese music on Sony labels is not available on the new Japanese iTunes Music Store. “We are in talks with Apple, but we have not reached an agreement at this time,” a Sony spokeswoman said.

Digital Music News reports on iTunes song pricing: “Labels have been pushing Apple to increase its current fixed a-la-carte pricing structure in the US, Canada and Europe. And a two-tiered pricing model in Japan will add fuel to that effort, with Apple unexpectedly breaking its uniform pricing approach.”

In an article entitled “Podcast: David vs. Goliath,” BusinessWeek’s Heather Green looks at how media giants are beating out indie/amateur podcasters in the iTunes directory.

The Spoilers Podcast is a new podcast for movie fans that offers alternate commentary tracks for DVDs—you push play on the podcast and play on the DVD at the same time to hear the podcaster’s comments and trivia.

Real Networks unsuccessfully disputes Apple’s claim to be the first digital music store to offer the Rolling Stones’ complete back catalog.

New Podcast: The iLounge Week in Review 4

imageIt’s here - the fourth iLounge Week in Review podcast. As explained in the new edition’s introduction - yes, we know - iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz has yet again filled in for the panel, offering commentary on the top news headlines and iLounge features of the week.

This week’s topics: The launch of iTunes Music Store Japan, the addition of three new auto makers to the Apple partnership for iPod-to-auto integration, continued analyst speculation over next-generation iPods, HP’s decision to end sales of the iPod, and new iPod accessories released or reviewed this week.

Direct download
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PodGear intros HouseParty speaker system for iPod

imageUK iPod accessory maker PodGear has announced the HouseParty, a portable speaker system for the entire iPod range—iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle. The HouseParty comes with separate adaptor cradles so that any iPod with a bottom port can be connected to the system.

“The PodGear HouseParty turns your iPod into a mini stereo system, pumping out 2x6W of crisp stereo sound,” says PodGear. “Beautifully designed and compact, HouseParty is equally at home in the living room, kitchen, bedroom or by your computer. HouseParty offers a total solution for any recent iPod. As well as great sound, it will charge your iPod™, iPod mini or iPod Shuffle, and even enables synchronization with your computer over USB.”

The PodGear HouseParty sells for £49.99 and will be available next month.

Incase pays homage to Japanese legend

imageIncase has designed a limited edition iPod case for the grand opening of Tokyo’s second Apple Store, which opens its doors on Saturday in the city’s Shibuya district.

“The case is a tribute to the well-known bronze statue in Tokyo that honors the dog Hachiko, who was the faithful pet of Dr. Eisaburo Ueno (a professor at Tokyo University),” explains the company. “After years of commuting to the university from the railroad station where Hachiko would wait for him, Dr. Ueno died from a stroke while at work in May 1925. For the next 9 years, the dog would loyally return to the station and wait for the return of his owner.”

Incase said a select number of people will receive one of the Shibuya cases for free case on Saturday and then it will be sold for $39.99 at the Shibuya Apple Store location only.

Thought Out announces FlexPed

imageThought Out has announced the FlexPed, a new flexible mounting device that lets you mount your iPod “virtually anywhere including cars, boats, and walls etc.”

The company said that the FlexPed uses the same PedHead mechanism that it uses on its Ped2 iPod stand. The adjustable device lets you mount your iPod with or without cases or skins.

Thought Out said FlexPed will be available in September for under $50.

Mix: Amazon, Podcasting woes, My shuffle, Human rights is apparently preparing an online music store, according to a job listing for a “content acquisition manager” for the company’s “forthcoming digital music service.”

USA Today’s Michelle Kessle has written a piece on podcasters running into music licensing problems over fears of piracy from record companies.

Chicago’s WKQX (Q101) has announced “My Shuffle” weekends—the radio station’s “answer to an all-request weekend in the iPod Age.” Listeners will be able to create playlists online from the Q101 music library and submit their selections.

A version of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights has been posted online for download in iPod note format.

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