CBS announced today that it will begin selling downloadable episodes of “Survivor” directly from its website. It does not appear the videos will be iPod compatible.
Apple and other MP3 player makers are challenging a new tax on digital music players in Switzerland that could add an extra 20% to product prices.
Homestar Runner has posted five downloadable cartoons for the video iPod.
CNET News.com has an interesting article on Tim Schaaff, the former QuickTime engineer at Apple and Sony’s new head of software development.
IPAC, a group “dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced intellectual property policy,” has launched an initiative to buy a video iPod for every U.S. senator who works on legislation affecting technology. The iPods will come pre-loaded with public domain and Creative Commons-licensed material to help enlighten the senators to a more mainstream consumer viewpoint.
“Last week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on the ‘Broadcast Flag’ and ‘Audio Flag,’ a set of proposals by the MPAA and RIAA that would stifle innovation by giving content holders a virtual veto over new technologies and existing user rights,” IPAC states on its website.
“But Senator Stevens, the 82-year old committee chairman from Alaska, surprised the audience by announcing that his daughter had bought him an iPod, and suddenly Stevens had a much greater understanding of the many ways innovative technology can create choice for consumers. Content industry representatives at the hearing found themselves answering much tougher questions than they typically receive.”
Monster is now selling the complete iCruze package for just $99, a fraction of what the direct-connect iPod car audio solution sold for originally. The kit includes the iCruze OEM/CD Changer Interface Module (reg. $250), the iCruze LCD Display Module (reg. $100) and necessary iCruze Interface Cables (reg. $30-$160). You’ll also get the “Monster Music: 3 Doors Down LIVE, Away From The Sun” Video SuperDisc ($25 value) with the system. Monster says the deal is available for a limited time.
Google has denied reports that it plans to acquire Napster or launch its own digital music store. The New York Post, citing anonymous sources, claimed yesterday that Google was considering an extensive alliance with Napster or an “outright acquisition” of company. Robert Peck of Bear Stearns predicted last week that Google will launch “Google Tunes” within the next six months.
The internet search giant said the published report was untrue and that it will not roll out a music service in the foreseeable future. “We have no plans to acquire Napster, nor do we have plans to develop a music store at this time,” Google spokeswoman Sonya Boralv said in a statement. She noted that Google recently introduced a new search feature that offers users faster access to music-related information.
Slate’s Seth Stevenson takes a look at the use of an iPod in Ford’s TV commercial for its Fusion sedan.
The Financial Times reports that the German iTunes Music Store is now the market-leading service in the country, selling over 15.5 million songs in 2005.
UBS Investment Research analyst Ben Reitzes is the latest to speculate that Apple will release a 1GB iPod nano.
Toyota has posted a sneak peek of its new Super Bowl commercial, entitled “Hybrid,” in iPod video format.
NBC and Apple are offering Flipsyde’s “Someday” music video featuring Winter olympic highlights for free on the iTunes Music Store.
GEAR4 today announced the LeatherJacket case for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The leather case comes in black or pink and features velvet lining, a detachable belt clip, lanyard, magnetic button closure and allows for full access to screen, click wheel and ports. The GEAR4 LeatherJacket for the 5G iPod and iPod nano sells for $35.
Following complaints from several customers, ESPN is now offering its SportsCenter TV commercials on the iTunes Music Store for free. The short ads, recently added to iTunes along with a bulk of ESPN/ABC Sports programming, were previously being sold for $1.99 each despite being advertisements for the network and most being less than 30 seconds long. Six ads were originally offered, but only three remain as free downloads.
Cingular is now selling and promoting Motorola’s SLVR L7 with iTunes. The ultra-slim device, modeled after the popular RAZR phone, features a VGA camera with 4x digital zoom, video capture and playback, Bluetooth wireless, built-in stereo speakers, and mobile email and web browser. Like Motorola’s ROKR phone, the SLVR comes with a 512 MB Micro SD card and imposes a 100-song storage cap. The Quad-band GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) sells for $200 with a two-year service agreement.
Unlike TV and other traditional media, the iPod and the shows sold on the iTunes Music Store come advertisement-free. But the device won’t be devoid of ads forever. The Wall Street Journal reports that marketers are feverishly experimenting to figure out what ad content is appropriate for the iPod. [paid sub. required]
“Some companies are attaching recycled TV spots to the beginning of video files, or podcasts, that can be downloaded from popular Web sites. Others are creating new, subtler pitches to bracket shows attractive to their target audiences,” reports the Journal. “And still others are creating their own podcasts that blur the line between entertainment and advertisement in hopes of enticing people to watch the commercials for their own sake.”
Large firms are currently trying a range of different concepts. Nintendo is reusing 15-second Mario Kart DS TV commercials at the beginning of video podcasts on GrindTV.com. Anheuser-Busch is blending entertainment and advertising with its humorous Ted Ferguson Bud Light campaign, and GM’s Hummer division sponsored a GQ magazine video podcast with two 15-second spots.
The companies appear to be taking an outside-the-box approach to the iPod ads. “The content has to be unique and different,” says Marlene Coulis of Anheuser-Busch. “Advertisers have to free themselves from the 30-second ad,” a Nintendo representative said. And “It’s not about hard-sell on the iPod,” according to Liz Vanzura of GM.
XtremeMac has announced its TuffWrap Accent cases for the fifth-generation iPod. The multi-color silicone cases feature ribbed sides, screen protector and play-through click wheel protector, and are available in three color combinations—black/red, black/yellow and blue/white. The cases will begin shipping in mid-February for $30.
“Unlike other cases that use uncontrolled color mixing or multiple layers to achieve a multi-color look, TuffWrap Accent is manufactured with two colors in distinct, contoured areas of the case,” explains XtremeMac. “With this unique design, TuffWrap Accent offers both the style and protection that iPod owners look for.”
Online retailer Amazon.com reportedly plans to launch a new service this spring to sell downloadable, full-length versions of feature films. Variety reports that Amazon’s new service will likely marry downloads to DVD sales.
Customers could stream a digital version of the film for a fee and then apply that charge as a credit toward the purchase of the DVD. Another plan would let a customer buy a DVD, and while waiting for it to arrive, he could stream it over his computer.
“What they are serving up is a direct companion to the DVD,” explained one senior Hollywood executive. “Everything is being leveraged to sell more DVDs. When you go to a product page on the site, it will say all the variations about how you’d purchase that video—stream, buy or maybe a combination (of options).”
While the service will launch with at least two major studios, Amazon is currently working to convince indie studios, including Image Entertainment, Ardustry Home Entertainment and First Look Entertainment, to provide content.
Stephen Baker of BusinessWeek gives the fifth-generation iPod three out of five stars in his review of the device. Baker states, “...my advice is to get one of these devices—and hold onto it tightly while catching the coming mobile video boom from a front-row seat.”
Belgian telecoms firm, Belgacom has entered into an agreement with Apple to offer its online music services through the iTunes Music Store. Belgacom had previously sold music online through its Skynet Music Club.
The National Association of Photoshop Professionals has launched a new daily video Podcast titled Photoshop Killer Tips, which will feature Photoshop Guru Matt Klowkowski, one of the co-hosts of the weekly Adobe Photoshop show “Photoshop TV.”
Case-mate is offering a Valentine’s Day special for iPod owners: now through February 14th, Case-mate is offering 25% off on all its Sienna Red and Peony Pink cases for 4G and 5G iPods and iPod nano.
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has been updated with new programming from ESPN and ABC Sports. The new content includes “Best of the X Games” highlight clips, “SportsCentury Shorts” with famous athletes, “Streetball” episodes, “The 2006 Winter X Games” highlight programs and six quick SportsCenter television advertisements.
The pricing on ESPN’s “This Is SportsCenter” commercials irked some iTunes users. “Seriously? $1.99 for 30 second or less commercials. Come on now. With the exception of the ‘Card Sharks’ one, you can watch them streamed in the preview. There has to better content from ESPN than commercials,” said one user in the customer reviews section. “ESPN and ABC should be ashamed for charging this much for so little. Yes, the commercials are funny, but not worth $2 for 30 seconds of video,” said another user.
There were also complaints about the shortened “SportsCentury” features. “The full SportsCentury episodes would be worth $1.99. Why not offer those instead of these abridged versions?” asked another iTunes user. The Gordon and Marino episodes are bad enough at around 15 minutes, but $1.99 for less than 10 minutes of Agassi and Roddick ridiculous.” [via Micro Persuasion]
As part of the major deal announced yesterday between MTV Networks and Apple, select episodes from Comedy Central and Nickelodeon shows are being made available on iTunes in advance of their network airing.
On Monday, January 30th, a new episode of Comedy Central’s hit-animated reality series “Drawn Together” will be released on iTunes for free—three days in advance of the February 1st network debut, making it the first “iTunes Episode Premiere.”
A paid download of a new episode of Zoey 101 called “Girls Will Be Boys” is available today, in advance of its January 29th network debut. Zoey 101 is Nickelodeon’s “tween” hit starring Jamie Lynn Spears.
Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff believes Apple is emerging as the “nexus of digital lifestyle revolution” and sees the iPod as a starting point for several new products. The analyst expects Apple to incorporate iPod technology into an HDTV device to offer a “big iPod” in the living room. Neff also expects “a new type of phone,” an iPod camera and advances in car audio connectivity.
“In a sense, Apple is becoming what Sony always wanted to be: a visionary that seamlessly integrates the best-of-breed hardware with content to fundamentally alter the way we life—and iPod is just the beginning, like Walkman before it,” Neff wrote in a research note this week.
The Consumer Council of Norway has filed a complaint to the Norwegian Consumer Ombubudsman, asking that he review the iTunes terms of service, which the council considers to be illegal.
A struggling Creative Technology reported a 31% drop in second quarter net profit. The company said it sold only 2.6 million MP3 players during the holiday quarter, compared to Apple’s 14 million.
Meanwhile, Sony reported positive earnings for the busy quarter and said it shipped more than 6.2 million PSPs. More than 15 million PSPs have now been shipped worldwide.
PortalPlayer, whose chips are used in iPods, said Thursday that its fourth quarter profit more than doubled. The company’s earnings rose to $23.8 million from $10.5 million a year ago.
Hit television shows on the iTunes Music Store will generate more revenue per consumer for content providers than is possible with the traditional on-screen advertising model, according to two analysts.
JPMorgan Chase analyst Spencer Wang says that shows such as “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” command about $440,000 per 30-second spot, with one episode generating about $12 million in ad revenue. By comparison, “even in the worst-case scenario” with 20% of viewers opting to download from iTunes, the digital episodes can generate about $15 million in revenue.
“The main reason is that the $1.44 in download revenue per user (or 70% of the $1.99 per download) is greater than the estimated 57 cents in advertising revenue per user generated under the current model,” Wang said.
Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff says the same. He also notes that a popular series can generate significantly more gross revenue for a TV network from a downloading model. Bernoff estimates that an episode generates $1.20 per user, compared with 45 cents per episode per viewer generated by advertising sales.
“Even if 20% of the audience shifts its viewing from broadcast to iTunes (iPod) downloads and ad revenue drop as a result, ABC makes an incremental $1.8 million,” Bernoff said in a recent report.
Google may be looking to launch a digital music store that would compete with Apple’s iTunes, according to one Wall Street analyst. Robert Peck of Bear Stearns predicts that the search engine giant will roll out such a service within the next six months.
“We believe that Google is in the midst of creating its own iTunes competitor, which we’ve dubbed ‘Google Tunes.’ We think this is a logical step, now that the nascent Google Video product has been introduced,” Peck wrote in a research note sent to clients Thursday. “We would expect Google to rollout a Beta service within 3 to 6 months. We note that Google has not confirmed our expectations, and that our thinking is based on Mosaic theory. However, we do think this fits with Google’s recent moves and its ultimate goal of organizing the world’s information.”
Noreve has announced its Tradition B leather case for the fifth-generation iPod. Available for both the 30GB and 60GB iPod, the case features a screen protector, chamude interior lining, and metal hook. It provides access to all controls and ports, and comes in four colors—black, pink, ocean blue and white. The Noreve Tradition B leather case for the 5G iPod is priced at $45 and will be available next month.
Microsoft may take on the iPod with a new portable device that combines music, video and gaming, according to BusinessWeek. While the device is still in the planning stages, the software giant has reportedly formed a team to consider the project’s chances.
“After getting trounced for four years in the digital music business by Apple, Microsoft finally seems poised to do something about it,” reports the publication. “BusinessWeek has learned that the software giant is working on plans to develop its own digital media device to rival the iPod, rather than just providing technology to partners. Microsoft hasn’t decided if it will go ahead. But sources inside the company and at its partners say Microsoft has put together a team that’s considering the business end of such an initiative.”
Xbox boss Peter Moore says a Microsoft device would have to do more than music and videos—it needs to leverage the company’s Xbox brand and offer video gaming capabilities. “It can’t just be our version of the iPod,” says Moore. “I think the brand is an opportunity.”