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Universal Music may seek iPod royalty fee

Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris said today that he may try to squeeze an iPod royalty fee from Apple in their next round of negotiations early next year. As reported earlier this month, Universal, the world’s largest music company, struck an agreement with Microsoft to receive a fee for every Zune digital media player sold. “It would be a nice idea. We have a negotiation coming up not too far. I don’t see why we wouldn’t do that… but maybe not in the same way,” Morris told the Reuters Media Summit, when asked about an iPod royalty fee. “The Zune (deal) was an amazingly interesting exercise, to end up with a piece of technology,” he added.

iSymphony speaker system lineup announced

imageiSymphony has announced the launch of its new iSymphony line of iPod-compatible speaker systems. The iSymphony M1 ($200) is a micro music system with built-in iPod dock, CD/MP3 player, USB, SD/MMC slots, an AM/FM stereo tuner, MP3 and WMA playback, and backlit clock. The iSymphony M2 ($300; shown right) takes all of the M1’s features and adds a Progressive Scan DVD/MPEG4 player and additional flash memory via its Memory Stick compatibility.

imageThe company also offers two clock radio music systems—the CR1 and CR3. The iSymphony CR1 ($60) features a built-in iPod dock, alarm clock, FM/AM radio, and can run off of AC or DC power. The iSymphony CR3 ($100; shown) also has a built-in iPod dock plus a dual alarm clock with snooze, AM/FM radio with 48 station memory, and preset equalizer.

Checks with retail stores show little Zune awareness

Salespeople are not consistently recommending Microsoft’s Zune player, and are overwhelmingly suggesting the iPod to customers, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. “We recently spoke with 40 big-box retailers to gauge which MP3 players salespeople were suggesting for more than $200 (i.e. the 30GB iPod, Zune or others),” Munster wrote in a report today. “We found that store clerks only recommended the Zune 8% of the time, while they recommended the iPod 75% of the time. In fact, some MP3 player salespeople had not even heard of the Zune, despite the fact that they sold it in their store.”

Munster also noted that the Zune has fallen down Amazon’s top-selling MP3 players list. “During the Zune’s launch week (on 11/16) the black model reached the 7th spot on Amazon’s top-selling MP3 players list,” Munster wrote. “But by 11/20 the player fell to the 13th spot, with the brown model at 22nd and the white model at 42nd. By 11/27 the black Zune was ranked 18th. The buzz that Microsoft was able to generate for the Zune’s launch clearly helped the player in its first week, but much of the publicity took the form of Zune/iPod comparisons… Due to the less than favorable reception, we believe the Zune will not materially impact iPod sales in the December 06 quarter.”

Speck offers Friends & Family holiday discount

Speck Products has announced its first Friends & Family holiday promotion. iLoungers can get 20% off anything from the company’s online store for the next week by entering coupon code SpeckFF06 at checkout. Speck offers several unique cases and armbands for the first and second-generation iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod.

H2O Audio ships waterproof housing for 2G iPod nano

H2O Audio today announced that it has begun shipping its new waterproof housing for the second-generation iPod nano. The “H2O Audio for iPod nano Gen 2” is submersible up to 10 ft. and features “a durable elastomeric diagonal T-seal providing absolute waterproof protection as well as its unique full-function Commander scroll-wheel assembly that provides users with ready access to all of the nano’s proprietary click wheel functions.” The case also has a LatchTight locking system and SealTight connector that’s compatible with standard 3.5mm headphone plugs. The H20 Audio case for 2G nanos is priced at $80.

Fox Reality to offer free premieres on iTunes Store

Fox Reality, the all-reality cable and satellite television channel, will offer the first episodes of all of its upcoming original series for free on Apple’s iTunes Store one week prior to their premieres. On November 30th, Fox Reality’s “My Bare Lady” will be available, days before its December 7th on-air debut. On December 8th, the episode will be priced at Apple’s usual $1.99. Other shows set to premiere on iTunes include “Rob and Amber: Against the Odds,” which premieres in January, and “The Academy,” slated for May.

Nike Amp+ bracelet remote for iPod revealed

The Men’s Health 2007 Tech Guide has revealed another new Nike product made just for iPods. The Nike Amp+ is a wrist strap for runners that integrates a wireless remote for controlling an iPod and the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. The magazine prices the Nike Amp+ at $80; no release date is given.

“Playlist miscues can ruin a run. That’s the impetus behind this wrist-mounted Bluetooth remote, which lets you brows through songs on your iPod or check your run times without fumbling with the player,” writes Men’s Health. “It syncs up with the Nike+iPod running system via a Bluetooth wireless connection, displaying information on an illuminated LED readout hidden beneath the matte-finish face of the bracelet. Just stash your iPod in your pocket—no more fiddling with the sweat-slicked dial.” [via TUAW]

Nike offers customizable backpack with iPod controls

Nike has introduced the C.O.R.E. Backpack iD, a new customizable backpack that features integrated iPod controls. The backpack’s keypad, located on the right shoulder strap, has controls for volume, tracks and play/pause, and connects to iPods via a dock connector. The Nike C.O.R.E. Backpack iD starts at $105.

“With the latest C.O.R.E. backpack you can customize colors, add performance features and have music at your fingertips,” says Nike. “Plus, you can add self-locking two-way zippers to make sure everything stays safely in your bag. You can also spec a Nike Flow ventilated back panel to help keep you cooler, drier, longer. Tons of options to give you the exact pack you want.”

iPod FM transmitters legal in UK starting next week

As expected, iPod FM transmitters will be legal in the UK beginning December 8, 2006. Ofcom, the regulating body for the UK communications industries, has finalized new legislation that allows consumers to use certain low-power FM transmitters. BBC News reports: “The devices fell foul of the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949, which forbids the use of radio equipment without a licence or an exemption. But strong consumer demand for the devices led Ofcom to rethink the legislation. Liberal Democrat MPs were also prominent in asking for iTrips and similar devices to be legalized. The new Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 mean that certain low-power transmitters will now be legal.”

Report: Apple close to exclusive iTunes deal with Beatles

After years of shunning digital music distribution, the Beatles may soon make their online debut on the iTunes Store. According to Fortune, Apple is close to landing a deal with the band’s record label, Britain’s EMI Group, to offer the Beatles’ catalog exclusively. “While details remain to be worked out, Fortune has learned that iTunes is close to a deal to bring the Beatles catalog online,” the magazine reports. “Apple is said to be angling to become the exclusive online music store for the Beatles for a limited window of time.”

Fortune also mentions the possibility of the Beatles allowing Apple to use one of their songs in an iPod commercial, or agreeing to sell a special edition Beatles iPod like U2 currently does. The magazine reports: “Also being discussed is whether the band would be willing to take two steps at the same time and endorse the iPod by allowing its music to be used in a commercial. Another scenario making the rounds is the prospect of the Beatles following U2’s example with a branded iPod.”

BET shows now on iTunes Store

BET Networks, “America’s largest African American media company and the world’s premiere conduit of Black culture,” has added several TV shows to Apple’s iTunes Store. The BET programming includes “American Gangster,” “Beef: The Series,” “Lil’ Kim: Countdown To Lockdown,” “DMX: Soul Of A Man,” “BET Comic
View” and “The Christies: Commited.” [via TUAW]

Black Friday iPod deals offered

The online Apple Store and Apple retail locations are offering several “Black Friday” discounts on iPods and iPod accessories today only. Customers can save up to $31 on fifth-generation iPods and up to $21 on iPod nanos (excluding Product RED nanos). Apple is also taking $51 off the iPod Hi-Fi, $32 off the Logitech AudioStation Express, $22 off Kensinton FM Transmitters, up to $102 off Shure earphones, up to $12 off select iPod cases, $62 off the Sonic Impact Video-55, $22 off the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo, $11 off the Apple iPod Radio Remote, and $5 off the Nike+iPod Sport Kit.

Amazon.com has deals on all of the second-generation iPod nano models. The 2GB nano (silver) is on sale for $138, the 4GB nano (silver, pink, blue, green) is on sale for $178, and the 8GB nano (black) is on sale for for $228. [via The Bargainist]

GizMac is offering 50% off its Titan cases for first-generation iPod nanos. Constructed of aircraft grade aluminum, the case is available in black, pink, red, blue, silver, green, purple, orange and gold.

JAVOedge, maker of several iPod cases, is giving customers 25% off entire orders. You must use coupon code JAVO25BLKFRI at checkout.

iPod Xtras will be offering discounts every four hours on a different category of products. The schedule is as follows: 12:00 AM-4:00 AM Connections, 4:00 AM-8:00 AM Speakers, 8:00 AM-12:00 PM iPod Cases, 12:00 PM-4:00 PM Headphones, 4:00 PM-8:00 PM, Car Solutions, 8:00 PM-12:00 AM Remotes & Other.

Pacific Rim Technologies has several products—from cases to portable speakers—on sale today and tomorrow with prices starting at $9.99. Free shipping is also offered.

iStyles is offering 50% off its entire stock of iPod cases and skins. Customers must use coupon code BLACKFRIDAY at checkout to receive the discount.

XtremeMac announces Luna clock radio

Just in time for the holidays, XtremeMac has today announced Luna ($150), a dual alarm clock and audio system for Dock Connecting iPods. Entering a market currently dominated by iHome’s iH5-series clock radios, Luna comes equipped with a modern white-on-black digital clock face that displays the current time, full date, and dual alarm details by default, switching to an iPod-like menu interface for when you need to change settings. The screen’s brightness is user-adjustable. Four dials on the unit’s top provide controls over bass, treble, radio tuning and volume; an included 18-button remote control lets you access many of the iPod’s and Luna’s features from a distance. The unit will ship on December 18, 2006 to online pre-orders, and will be sold in Apple retail stores starting around the same date.

ezGear intros EZL iPod stand

ezGear today announced the Original EZL, a folding stand designed for iPods and other portable devices. “Manufactured from high-strength and lightweight ABS plastic, the EZL is the perfectly portable solution for holding your iPod. When stored, the EZL lies completely flat at a mere 1/8” of an inch, easily fitting in your pocket, purse, backpack, or briefcase. When opened, the EZL provides a rock solid stand to display your iPod. The arms at the bottom of the EZL lift your iPod off of the table, providing convenient access to the dock connector. The neoprene pads provide further stability and scratch protection.” The EZL is priced at $15.

Study: Podcast use rising but small for daily usage

According to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a growing number of consumers are listening to podcasts, but very few do so every day. The study found that 12% of web users have downloaded a podcast, an increase from 7% earlier in the year. However, only about 1% said they download a podcast on a typical day. “While podcast downloading is still an emerging activity primarily enjoyed by early adopters, the range of content now available speaks to both mainstream and niche audiences,” said Mary Madden, senior research specialist at Pew. “We are at a crossroads of a major transition in the way media content is delivered and consumed.”

YoTank offers machined aluminum 2G iPod nano case

YoTank has announced the iTank Nano 2, a new version of its machined aluminum case for the second-generation iPod nano. Like the company’s previous cases, the iTank Nano 2 is machined from solid aluminum and polished to a mirror-like finish ($50). The case is also offered in anodized black ($58) and a special edition anodized red ($TBA). The iTank Nano 2 also has an integrated Lexan screen protector.

Analyst: Retailers suggesting iPods to customers 70% of time

Retail store clerks suggest an iPod 70% of the time, according to a new survey by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster. “Our checks with 40 big-box retailers show that store clerks are suggesting iPods significantly more than other brands,” Munster wrote in a report today. “Also, they are suggesting iPods to customers more than they used to. When asked to suggest an MP3 player for less than $200, 70% suggested an iPod model. This figure is up from 52% in June 2005 and 38% in November 2005.” Retailers suggested SanDisk players 13% of the time and Creative players 10% of the time, followed by Sony (5%) and Samsung (3%). “Overall, it is clear that the iPod brand dominates mind-share among indirect sellers of MP3 players,” said Munster.

RhinoSkin intros aluminum case for 2G iPod shuffle

RhinoSkin has announced its new iPod shuffle Accents. Designed for the second-generation iPod shuffle, the aluminum cases feature a neoprene lining and a high-polish finish in four colors—red, blue, green and pink. RhinoSkin’s Shuffle Accent four-pack retails for $20 and will be available in December.

Duracell PowerFM combines FM transmitter, battery, case

Battery-Biz, Inc. has introduced the Duracell PowerFM, a new iPod accessory that “combines the functionality of an FM radio transmitter with the convenience of an extended rechargeable battery as well as the protection of a silicone case.” The PowerFM features a black, sled-like design and provides more than double the iPod’s run-time and allows users to transmit their music to any FM radio. Priced at $80, the PowerFM will be available for first-generation iPod nanos and fifth-generation iPods next month. A version of the second-generation iPod nano will be available in January.

Mix: Speck promo, Bill Gates, Ear infections, Bill O’Reilly

Speck Products has announced a new Holiday Special. From November 20th to November 27th, buy any two regularly priced iPod cases from Speck, and you’ll get a compatible “surprise case” for free.

During a speech at Stanford University last week, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said the iPod was “phenomenal, unbelievable, fantastic.” He said Microsoft’s goal with the Zune is “more modest” than replacing the iPod. “It’s a growing market… we can get some of the new users and some of the switchers. We need to excite people about the concept - the idea of sharing” music and video through Zune’s built-in WiFi.

In her “Ask The Doctor” column for The Australian, Linda Calabresi answers a question about whether wearing iPod earphones for too long could cause ear infections. “Earphones and ear plugs will not cause an infection by themselves,” she says. “However, with prolonged use they can sometimes irritate the ear canal, making it more prone to an infection. You could possibly reinfect yourself if you used them while you had an outer-ear infection.”

Even though he sells memberships to podcasts of his radio show, Bill O’Reilly recently said on air that the iPod and PlayStation 3 are examples of how “American society is changing for the worse because of the machines.” He later said, “I don’t own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life - the machines… it’s going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America.”

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