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Apple warns of counterfeit iPods

Apple has reportedly begun notifying its service partners of illegally manufactured digital audio players designed to closely resemble iPods. The counterfeit devices, usually imitations of the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, have strikingly similar designs but lack features such as a dock connector, functioning click wheel, and Apple operating system. Apple said the counterfeit iPods can be sold in very Apple-like product packaging and sometimes even come stamped with Apple logos and valid Apple serial numbers.

General Mills launches iTunes song giveaway

General Mills is now giving away free iTunes song downloads inside cereal boxes as part of its Big Groove promotion. For a limited time, specially marked boxes of General Mills cereals—including Lucky Charms, Cheerios, Cookie Crisp and Cinnamon Toast Crunch—have a 12-digit code that can be redeemed for one free song from the iTunes Music Store. The company says that 1 in 10 boxes wins 5 bonus songs.

AVA offers chrome-plated case for iPod nano

AVA Showcase has announced its Element case for the iPod nano. The hard-shell case is made from lightweight ABS plastic with a chrome-plated exterior. Available in either silver or gold, the Element case features a screen protector, integrated hold slider switch, click wheel film, detachable lanyard, carrying pouch, and earbud cable grip. The Element case is priced at $25.

Mix: Alias, Apprentice, iPod residuals, ReFrederator, PBS

Apple has added ABC’s “Alias” (seasons 4 and 5) and NBC’s “The Apprentice” (season 5) to the iTunes Music Store.

Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are likely to receive a residual payment of 2 cents every time their work is downloaded for a portable device such as a cell phone or iPod.

GelaSkins vinyl iPod protectors announced

GelaSkins has announced its new line of protective vinyl iPod skins. Featuring over 100 designs ranging from fine art prints to graffiti style street art, the $15 adhesive protectors are available for 4G and 5G iPods, the iPod mini, and iPod nano. “GelaSkins are easy to apply thanks to a special textured adhesive technology, which channels air out and prevents the formation of bubbles,” explains the company. “Even after extended use, GelaSkins remove cleanly leaving no residue on the iPod. Their low-profile design adds almost zero bulk, so the iPod will still integrate perfectly with other accessories such as its dock or the iTrip.”

Griffin Survival Kit, TuneCenter Winners, Q&A Announced

Participating in tonight’s live iLounge chat with Griffin Technology, five iLounge readers won huge Griffin iPod Survival Kits full of new accessories, and one reader also won a new Griffin TuneCenter Pro Home Media Center. Griffin representatives also answered iLounge reader questions on a wide variety of topics. A complete list of prizes and winners can be found in the full story link above or below, along with some of the Q&A. Congratulations to all of the winners, and thanks to everyone, including all of the representatives of Griffin Technology, for participating in the chat today!

Burst.com files patent infringement suit against Apple

Responding to a preemptive lawsuit filed by Apple earlier this year, Burst.com today announced that it has filed counterclaims officially accusing Apple of patent infringement. Burst alleges that Apple’s iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iPod, and QuickTime application infringe on four of Burst’s U.S. Patents (4,963,995; 5,995,705; 5,057,932 and 5,164,839). Burst’s counterclaims come after a suit that Apple filed against the company in January, seeking a declaration that Burst’s patents are invalid and that Apple does not infringe on them. Burst is seeking “a reasonable royalty for Apple’s infringing products and services, and also seeks an injunction against further infringement.”

Mix: Pimp My Ride, Mophie, Subscription services, Woz/Jobs

The upcoming season of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” will incorporate iPods into more than a third of its transformations, including “a 1990 Toyota Celica outfitted with an iPod hookup that includes a ridiculously capacious two-terabyte hard drive—enough space to play music for more than a year without repeating a song,” according to The Washington Post.

Mophie has announced that the first 5,000 people to sign up for its newsletter will receive a free Relo Base Case for either the iPod nano or fifth-generation iPod. The first 200 people will get the case along with “limited edition Mophie gear.” The company says there are no shipping charges and no catches.

Apple tops list of world’s most innovative companies

BusinessWeek and the Boston Consulting Group have released the results of their second annual ranking of the 25 most innovative companies. Apple’s iPod and iTunes put the company at the top of the list this year. “To launch the iPod, says innovation consultant Larry Keeley of Doblin Inc., Apple used no fewer than seven types of innovation,” reports BusinessWeek. “They included networking (a novel agreement among music companies to sell their songs online), business model (songs sold for a buck each online), and branding (how cool are those white ear buds and wires?). Consumers love the ease and feel of the iPod, but it is the simplicity of the iTunes software platform that turned a great MP3 player into a revenue-gushing phenomenon.”

Muffgear announces Designer Muffs

Muffgear has announced its new Designer Muffs collection, which includes three cases designed by independent artists. Available in three styles for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano, the $17 cases are made from printed polyester canvas with a fleece lining. “The designer muff, is a collaborative effort to create a unique iPod cover showcasing the efforts of young up and coming artists with a percentage of the proceeds going into their pockets, we currently have two designers on board—DrunkPark (Seb Godfrey) & Task Focused (Rob Cordiner),” explains Muffgear.

Mix: France/Apple, Third-grader, Radio erosion, Abilene Univ.

France Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said yesterday that Apple shouldn’t be surprised at the country’s proposed law to sever the link between the iPod and iTunes Music Store. “Any time a company restricts competition in a market, it gets the attention of regulating agencies. We have to play by the rules of the game,” she said.

A California third-grader received a formal letter from Apple’s legal department after she mailed a note to Apple CEO Steve Jobs with suggestions on how to improve the iPod nano. Following a report by a local CBS news team, an Apple legal counsel called the girl and apologized.

Win Griffin iPod Survival Kits and more tonight in live iLounge chat

By reader request, the third in our series of live iLounge chats - hosted in our recently opened live chat room - will be with three representatives of Griffin Technology, who will be available to answer reader questions, and give away five total iPod Survival Kit prize packages to lucky iLounge readers. One of the packages will include Griffin’s new TuneCenter or TuneCenter Pro Home Media Center, while the rest will be packed with car, home, and travel accessories. The format will be trivia; additional details are below. Please join us in the chat room on Monday, April 17, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. PT/8:00 p.m. ET.

mStation debuts new iPod speaker systems

mStation has introduced two new iPod speaker systems—the mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower and the mStation 2.1 Stereo Orb. The Stereo Tower ($300) is a free-standing system featuring an aluminum design, 100 watts of power, and a dedicated subwoofer. The Orb ($150; shown) is a spherical desktop speaker system that offers 50 watts of power and built-in subwoofer. Both systems charge/sync iPods, come with 10-button remotes, and work with all iPod models. The two mStation systems are available immediately.

Fabrix offers new polka-dot iPod cases

Fabrix has announced a new range of polka-dotted iPod cases. Available in two styles in pink, blue, black and red, the handmade sleeve cases are lined with quilted padding to protect iPods against light bumps and scratches. The Fabrix cases range from $17 to $20 depending on the design and are available in sizes for standard iPods, iPod nanos and iPod minis.

Mix: iPods on TV, Download tax, Riotrun.com, Sony Ericsson

The Hollywood Reporter notes that during the past four months, iPods and Macs have been featured 250 times on 38 different network primetime shows—a total of 26 minutes of free exposure.

Democratic politicians are more likely than Republicans to permit taxes on purchases of digital music and movies, according to an analysis by CNET News.com

Merrill Lynch cuts iPod estimates

Merrill Lynch analyst Richard Farmer today lowered his iPod shipment estimates for Apple’s March quarter from 10.1 million to 8.8 million units. Based on monthly data from NPD Techworld, Farmer said he believes that March shipment numbers, to be released on April 19, will be below both January and February figures. Farmer’s 2006 iPod estimate falls from 53 million to 47 million units. Shaw Wu of American Technology Research said he also expects Apple to report iPod sales of 8.8 million units, while Bear Sterns analyst Andrew Neff said he expects Apple to ship 10.5 million iPods during the quarter.

Directed Electronics offers iPod vehicle interfaces

Directed Electronics has announced the availability of four new IP-Port iPod adapters that allow users to listen to their iPod through the stock radio in their vehicles. Initially available for Ford, GM, Honda, and Toyota cars and trucks, the IP-Port adapters operate through the radio’s CD Changer port using the CD Changer controls for song up/down, playlist/disc select, shuffle and more. They also offer an Auto Charge feature that charges the iPod battery and stops it automatically after one hour of non-use. The Directed IP-Port adapters start at $160.

The Beatles set to sell songs online

The Beatles are preparing to make their albums available through online music services after years of refusing to embrace digital music. During the Apple Corps vs. Apple Computer trademark lawsuit last week, Neil Aspinall, a former Beatles road manager and managing director of Apple Corps, said that the company was digitally remastering the entire Beatles catalog in preparation of selling it online. “I think it would be wrong to offer downloads of the old masters when I am making new masters,” he said. “It would be better to wait and try to do them both simultaneously so that you then get the publicity of the new masters and the downloading, rather than just doing it ad hoc.” A spokeswoman for Apple Corps confirmed Aspinall’s statement.

Hear iPod 5G’s high/low quality recording modes, compared

Following up on our First Look at Griffin Technology’s iTalkPro Stereo Microphone for fifth-generation iPods, we have now posted an audio quality comparison file so that listeners can hear the rough differences between the newest iPod’s different recording modes. The 9.1MB file, available here, contains samples of the iPod 5G in High and Low Quality modes outdoors and indoors, plus a sample of the iPod 4G in its original, lower-quality recording mode. Recorders by Belkin and XtremeMac will also take advantage of the 5G’s new modes, which were designed by Apple to enable podcasters, students, and business users to make CD- or superior voice-quality recordings on the go. Technical details can be found below.

DLO HomeDock Deluxe now available

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced that it is now shipping its HomeDock Deluxe iPod docking system. First announced in January at Macworld Expo, the HomeDock Deluxe features on-screen navigation, allowing users to view and select their iPod’s music on a TV screen. The $150 system comes with an 18-button remote control and also plays videos and picture slideshows from capable iPods. You can read iLounge’s First Look at the HomeDock Deluxe for hands-on details and photos.

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