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Proporta intros color-changing iPod nano case

Proporta has announced its Color Change Silicone Case, a new protective skin for the iPod nano that gradually changes colors according to its temperature. The case is available in hot pink, deep blue and charcoal, and features a removable lanyard and access to all iPod controls and ports. “As the temperature rises, the case changes color (gradually getting lighter) allowing you to buy just one case but own a multitude of colors,” the Proporta says.

Mix: Blu-Ray, Ballmer, Airline music, Apple stores

Business 2.0 speculates that Apple could be asking Sony and other studios to include iPod-ready versions of movies on Blu-Ray disc releases alongside the full, high-definition versions.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that the new generation of mobile phones will “outclass” today’s iPod as portable devices to play music. “Portable music is not just the iPod,” he said.

Marware shipping C.E.O. Folio case for 5G iPods

Marware has announced the immediate availability of its C.E.O. Folio case for fifth-generation iPods. Designed with the “mobile executive” in mind, the C.E.O. Folio offers a lined notepad and pen, pockets to store ID and credit cards, and iPod holster. It features a full–grain black leather exterior, microsuede interior, iPod screen protector, and snap closure. The C.E.O Folio fits both the 30GB and 60GB iPod models and sells for $40.

iPods fall domino style in new Tekserve ad

Tekserve, a large independent Apple Specialist in New York City, has created a new ad that features close to two hundred iPods, estimated to have an original value of $50,000, falling like dominoes. The 15-second commercial will begin running every 20 minutes on the large LED display outside of Madison Square Garden from May 1 through June 30. “Despite our rather rough treatment of the iPods, I want to assure Apple lovers everywhere that no iPods were hurt during the filming of this commercial,” said Tekserve’s Dick Demenus.

Samsung awarded iPod chip deal

An executive from Samsung revealed today the company has won the contract to provide the processors in Apple’s next-generation iPods, apparently taking the partner position that PortalPlayer said it lost last week. “I knew that we would win this design,” Jon Kang, senior VP for the technical marketing group at Samsung Semiconductor, said during a presentation at the SEMI Strategic Business Conference. “We won the design with the iPod.” Kang referred to the company’s chip as a “PortalPlayer killer” and said that Samsung, which already produces NAND flash-memory chips for the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, has been working with Apple for a long time. “It’s a huge win for us,” he said.

Catapult device enables video capturing to iPod

Bella Corporation has introduced Catapult, a new device that allows users to capture video footage from DV or HDV video cameras directly to iPods and other USB-based storage drives. The Catapult, which comes with a piggy-back neoprene pouch to hold an iPod or 2.5-inch hard drive, features options for time lapse and remote trigger-based recording, as well as pre and post record functionality. It is powered by either its built-in rechargeable batteries or an included AC adaptor, and works with DV and HDV format cameras that include a FireWire connection, such as those from Sony, Canon, JVC, and Panasonic. The Catapult will be available in the second half of 2006 for “under $300.”

Mix: TV Guide, Quanta deal, Mobile Phones, Apple campus

TV Guide magazine has announced a new weekly column called “Downloads,” which will feature information about television shows available for download or online viewing each week.

Following a vague report in March that said Quanta Computer had secured a contract from Apple to manufacture “video iPod devices,” the Chinese-language Commercial Times reported today that the order has been shifted to an “unspecified EMS provider.”

iPod continues stronghold of MP3 player market

In his latest research report sent to clients, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes that the iPod is continuing to gain market share as evidenced by recent NPD Techworld data and Amazon.com rankings. Munster said that various versions of the iPod now hold all 10 spots on Amazon’s Top 10 Seller List for Portable MP3 Players, up from 8 last month. “We believe the increase is noteworthy given that the last time we recorded 10 iPods in the Top 10 occurred on Sept. 9, 2005, prior to the holiday shopping season,” he commented. Munster expects that by the end of 2006, more than 85 million iPods will have shipped since the device was introduced.

i-Theater video headset announced

i-O Display Systems has introduced the i-Theater, a new wearable display for video iPods and other portable devices. The $500 headset features dual QVGA resolution screens (320 x 240) which the company says are the equivalent to watching a 50-inch display viewed from a distance of 8.5-feet. The i-Theater weighs 3.5 ounces, comes with a rechargeable battery, and offers a “sleek, ergonomically comfortable and lightweight design.”

Teac offers clock radio iPod speaker systems

Teac recently introduced two new iPod speaker systems with clock radio functions. The SRL-200 ($150; shown) features an integrated iPod dock, digital AM/FM radio tuner with 20 FM station presets, LCD display, and wireless remote. The system lets you awaken or fall asleep to the music on your iPod. The second unit, the Teac GR-10i ($160), is a similar clock radio with iPod dock. It sports a silver exterior, and also features a digital AM/FM tuner, LCD display, remote and sleep/alarm functions.

Mix: Wolfson, Senator Burns, iPod knock-offs, CustomFlix

Wolfson Microelectronics, which makes audio chips used in iPods, said its first-quarter profit more than tripled, driven by demand for portable digital music players. The company’s earnings rose to $7.7 million from $2.49 million a year earlier.

Senator Conrad Burns—who is said to be the fourth-highest recipient of entertainment industry money in Congress—has returned the free iPod sent to him by IPac. A campaign spokesperson said the iPod “is the first time we have received something technological” as a donation, adding that “it’s just not a donation that we want” and confirming that while Burns does not own an iPod, “if he wants an iPod, he’ll buy one.”

Survey: iPods, podcasts eating into radio listening

A new survey by Rock radio consultants Jacobs Media found that iPod ownership has risen sharply among radio listeners. The firm said that the percentage of iPod owners has increased from 21% in its 2005 study to 35% in 2006, and that nearly half (48%) of those who haven’t purchased an iPod or MP3 player say they are very or somewhat likely to soon. Unsurprisingly, Jacobs also said that iPods are eating into radio listening. “There are strong indicators that at least initially, iPods sharply cut into time spent listening to radio,” the firm said. “About one-fifth of iPod owners say they listen mostly or exclusively to these devices. Four in ten now split their listening between iPods and radio, while over one-third primarily listen to the radio.” In addition, Jacobs said that one-fifth (22%) of those who own an iPod say they’ve downloaded a podcast. Of this group, nearly two-thirds (64%) subscribe to at least one podcast.

Report: Apple set to display ads in iTunes

Apple will soon be testing advertisements within iTunes, according to a report by Ad Age. The move is “sure to entice advertisers interested in reaching millions of devotees of the service. But it could be worrisome to the service’s users, who unplug from ad-supported media when they plug their earphones in,” says Ad Age. “That may be why Apple’s current plans call for the ads to appear only in the lower-left corner of the iTunes library while users listen to podcasts… But it’s a big step for the service, which has so far limited ad intrusions to audio spots embedded in some of the podcasts offered via iTunes. ESPN Radio, which supplies some of iTunes’ most popular ad-supported sports podcasts, is working with the service on the new advertising offering.”

Apple retail stories hosting Chili Peppers listening parties

Apple retail stores in the U.S., Canada and U.K. will be hosting pre-release listening parties on May 2nd for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album, “Stadium Arcadium.” Apple said the stores will play each of the album’s 28 songs in their entirety, and will be giving away complimentary iTunes music cards (while supplies last) to download the album’s first single, “Dani California.” The events kick off at 6:30 p.m. local time. Chili Peppers fans can pre-order the album from iTunes for $19.90 to be downloaded on May 9th when it is released. In addition, those who pre-order the album will be entered to win a limited-edition Chili Peppers iPod and get the first shot at concert tickets for the band’s North American tour.

Mix: Gift cards, Spun, Music collections, Clear Channel

Gift cards for digital music downloads are helping to boost online music sales. “In the U.S. there’s been fantastic gift card download sales,” said Larry Kenswil, President of Universal Music Group’s eLabs unit. “Towards the middle of last year we were wondering if the digital revolution was over. But after the holiday season sales really picked up as a result of gift cards.”

Spun.com has launched a new service that allows customers to trade in their CDs, DVDs and video games for iPods or iTunes Music Store gift cards. “The transaction is fast and easy,” says Spun. “Simply log on to Spun.com, enter the ‘old media’ titles you want to exchange, and get instant credit toward digital gift cards and players. In a few days, you’ll receive your new digital entertainment gear, and a postage-paid box to ship your old CDs, DVDs and games back to Spun.”

Griffin unveils new PowerJolt charger for iPods

Griffin Technology today announced a new version of its PowerJolt iPod auto charger. The redesigned model, which sells for $20, features a new black exterior with matching cables, plugs into any 12V accessory port or cigarette lighter socket, and charges your iPod while playing music or in standby mode. It comes with a detachable 48” USB to Dock Connector cable and, for use with the new iTrip and iTrip nano, a 48” USB to mini-USB cable. The PowerJolt also comes with a free LE version of Griffin’s iFill software, which
automatically loads Internet radio content to your iPod.

Former iPod chief inks consulting deal with Apple

Jon Rubinstein, the former senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, has signed on with the company as a consultant for one year. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple said Rubinstein agreed to make himself available to the company for about one business day a week until April 16, 2007, for which he will be paid a non-material flat fee for his services. Apple announced last year that Rubinstein would resign at the end of March and be replaced by Tony Fadell, Apple’s vice president of iPod engineering. The company said Rubinstein’s official last day as an Apple executive was April 14, 2006.

Apple launches As Heard On, new Commercial Success

Apple recently spotlighted two features of the iTunes Music Store that make it easier for users to find songs heard on television. The newest edition of “Commercial Success” offers a collection of songs featured in popular TV commercials from companies such as Budweiser, Jaguar, Cingular and Coke. The new “As Heard On” feature is being used to let iTunes customers easily find and purchase songs performed on Fox’s American Idol. Interestingly, the As Heard On section is the first to feature episode tabs for quick access to related music—in this case, the current week’s songs, music from previous weeks and the complete collection.

Apple says iPods eco-friendly, expands Mac recycling program

Along with an expansion of its computer recycling program, Apple announced today that the fifth-generation iPod, iPod nano and iPod shuffle are 100% compliant with the upcoming restrictions of hazardous substances (RoHS) in California and Europe. “iPod’s RoHS compliance comes months ahead of the July 1 deadline set by the European Union, and most of the materials covered by the RoHS directive, including mercury, cadmium, chromium VI and brominated flame retardants, were voluntarily eliminated from all Apple products years ago,” the company said. “In addition, iPod power adapters now exceed Energy Star efficiency requirements and already meet California’s stricter appliance efficiency regulations, which are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2008.”

Analyst: New iPod nanos coming, ‘true’ video iPod delayed

Apple is likely to introduce new higher-capacity iPod nanos this Summer, but could delay the release of a video iPod with a larger screen until early next year, according to one analyst. Citing yesterday’s warning from PortalPlayer, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster said he expects 8GB and 10GB iPod nanos to be released in late Summer or early Fall. “Releasing new nanos during the back-to-school timeframe would allow Apple to capitalize on this seasonally stronger buying period, but, more importantly, we need to see the products in the market by October-November to take full advantage of holiday buying,” he said.

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