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XtremeMac teams with entertainment companies on iPod gear

XtremeMac today announced that it has entered into licensing agreements with several entertainment companies—including Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Nickelodeon and Viacom, Lucasfilm Ltd., and Major League Baseball—to create iPod accessories featuring popular movie and cartoon characters as well as team artwork. The new iPod cases, covers and armbands will be available “over the next several months, coinciding with the start of the holiday shopping season,” according the company. No other details were offered.

Warner exec: Labels could cut off iTunes Music Store [updated]

Warner Music Group digital strategy chief Michael Nash said today that the major record labels could easily cut off the iTunes Music Store if Apple CEO Steve Jobs doesn’t budge in the song pricing battle.

“What if Jobs says 39 cents or 29 cents per download—what then?” Nash asked during a panel discussion at the CTIA Telecomms Show. “The industry can say, OK we’ll cut him off—very few people people buy music from digital downloads.” The music executive said Jobs will have to find another way to help sell iPods. “[Jobs] will figure out another model,” he said.

Nash also said that the music industry has let Apple get away with too much dominance in paid digital downloads. “The industry got together and said ‘We don’t want another MTV’. Well, now we’ve got another MTV, in Apple. And we have to deal with it,” he said.

Update: The Register has now corrected its story, saying that it wrongly attributed the remarks to Nash. “These remarks were made by another panelist, Kenneth Hertz, partner at Goldring Hertz and Lichtenstein LLP, a law firm representing major recording industry artists,” the site now says.

Incase rolls out three new iPod nano cases

Incase has announced three new cases for the iPod nano, including two leather cases and a neoprene sleeve. The company told iLounge that all of the cases will be in Apple retail stores by early to mid-October.

imageWallet for iPod nano
The Incase nano Wallet is available in black or pink leather with gray suede lining, and features a screen protector and cord wrap-around function. The case has a single fold and opens up like a book. It will sell for $19.95.

imageNeoprene Sleeve for iPod nano
The Neoprene Sleeve is similar to the company’s Sports Case for the nano, but features a belt clip in place of a hand strap and armband. Available in black for $19.95, the case offers a velcro closure, screen protector and click wheel cover with play-through access.



imageLeather Folio for iPod nano
Incase’s new Leather Folio features a flip-down design with an over-the-top button closure, suede lining, belt clip and screen protector. The leather case will be available only in black for $24.95.

Mix: LuxPro Pico, iTunes for Windows Mobile, nano response

LuxPro, which blatantly copied Apple’s iPod shuffle, is apparently at it again with its “Pico” MP3 player. No specific details are currently available regarding features or availability. [via Engadget]

A tech blogger has purportedly gotten his hands on a beta version of iTunes for Windows Mobile 5.0. While totally unverifiable, the blogger does provide several convincing pictures of the interface.

Following Apple’s statement yesterday regarding iPod nano screen flaws, Matthew Peterson, the nano owner who set up FlawedMusicPlayer.com, writes on the site: “I am very delighted to see Apple take this issue seriously,” he writes. “It is sad that it took a website and a lot of publicity before they finally investigated but at least future Nano users with the same problem I had will not be subjected to the same treatment that I was…”

Nanofabric iPod covers announced

imageUK accessory company Wrappers has announced new protective iPod covers made from a high tech nanofabric. The soft and slim covers are available in various designs with embroidery for 3G/4G iPods (£19.99), the iPod mini (£18.99) and iPod nano (£16.99).

“The very high density of nanofabric makes it almost impenetrable,” says the company. “On average, every square centimeter of nanofabric has around 200 additional threads compared to a high thread count, quality cotton. Nanofabrics are designed to be tough without being bulky. In tests against fabrics four times as thick, nanofabrics proved much more resistant to penetration from a sharp object. A further benefit of nanofabric is that it is very soft to the touch so there is no chance of a nanofabric scratching your iPod.”

Poll results: Which iPod nano will you buy?

The most recent Lounge Poll, “Which iPod nano will you buy?”, is now closed.

With over 7,300 votes cast, a majority of responding readers indicated that they preferred black nanos to white ones, with almost twice as many picking black 2GB models (7%) over white 2GB models (4%), and black 4GB models (44%) over white 4GB models (24%). Most interestingly, six times as many people indicated interest in the more expensive 4GB model as for the less expensive 2GB model, with only 11% of respondants opting for 2GB, and 68% opting for 4GB. We were also surprised to see just what fraction of readers said they would buy a nano: 79% said they’d buy one of the four models, while only 21% said they would not.

Complete results are available in Read More below, and at the Lounge Poll archives. Our new poll, “Which feature do you most want Apple to add to iPods?”, is now open. You can find it on the left column below Ask iLounge.

iPod chief talks convergence, iPod sales

In a recent interview with a German newspaper, Apple vice president and iPod division head Jon Rubenstein expressed skepticism that consumers want a single device to replace their iPod and cell phone. “Is there a toaster that also knows how to brew coffee? There is no such combined device, because it would not make anything better than an individual toaster or coffee machine,” Rubenstein said. “It works the same way with the iPod, the digital camera or mobile phone—it is important to have specialized devices.” Rubenstein said he has a “wait and see” attitude on how Motorola’s iTunes-enabled ROKR phone is received.

Rubenstein also said that he sees iPod sales surpassing the number of Sony Walkman devices sold to date—340 million units—and noted that companies will have a hard time creating rivaling players in the years to come. “The iPod is substantially more difficult to copy than that Walkman was,” the Apple executive explained. “It contains a whole ecosystem of different elements, which coordinate with each other: hardware, software, and our iTunes Music store on the Internet.”

PodsPlus offers iPod nano silicone skin

imagePodsPlus has announced the release of its first iPod nano silicone case. The silicone skin protects your nano from dirt and scratches, and offers play-through click wheel protection, openings for all ports, and a neck/wrist lanyard strap. It sells for $11.99 and comes in 12 different colors—light blue, black, dark orange, white, gray, hot pink, lime green, light orange, orange-red, pink, purple, and yellow.

Apple acknowledges iPod nano screen problems

Following public reports of iPod nano screen flaws, Apple has responded to the complaints and concerns, confirming that the breakage is due to a very small batch of the devices that use defective screens.

“This is a real but minor issue involving a vendor quality problem in a small number of units,” Apple said in a statement, referring to the reports of seemingly unprovoked nano screen breakage. “Our figures show this issue has affected less than 1/10 of 1 percent of the total iPod nano units that we’ve shipped. It is not a design issue.” The company said affected customers should contact Apple to arrange for a free replacement unit.

Apple also addressed complaints that the nano screen gets scratched too easily, noting that it uses the same surface as that found on 4G iPods. “A few vocal customers say the nano is susceptible to scratches. We do not believe this is a real issue,” the company said in the statement. “We make the screens using the same material as we use in the 4G iPod. We suggest concerned customers use one of the iPod nano cases that are coming to market to protect the music player.”

Apple Canada begins claims process for iPod levy refunds

Apple Canada has launched a refund claims process for iPod owners who were charged a levy that was applied to the purchase price of the device. Canadian customers who bought an iPod or an iPod mini from December 13, 2003 through December 21, 2004 are eligible to receive a refund on the “iPod tax.” According to Apple, “an iPod with up to 10GB was levied CA$15 and an iPod with over 10GB was levied $25.”

As previously reported, the Supreme Court of Canada earlier this year upheld a Federal Court of Canada decision to do away with the levy on digital music players. The Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) had collected the tax built into the price of the devices since December 2003 on behalf of musicians and record companies, according to the Canadian Press.

To request a refund, you must have proof of purchase and download, print out and complete a form available on Apple’s website. The company said “qualifying purchasers should receive their refunds in four to six weeks from the date your claim form is processed.” All refund requests must be postmarked on or before December 31, 2005.

Mix: EarphoneSolutions.com, 10 million nanos, ROKR commercial

EarphoneSolutions.com is offering iLoungers 20% off plus free shipping on any order of $99 or more until Sunday, October 2, 2005. You must use coupon code ilounge20off during check out to receive this special iLounge deal.

Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner believes that Apple will sell 10 million iPod nanos before the end of the year. “Supply chain checks suggest that Apple should be able be to produce 10 million iPod nanos before the end of the calendar year, and given the strong initial customer reception to the product, we think these units will sell through,” said Gardner.

MacTV has posted a downloadable version of the new Motorola ROKR commercial featuring Madonna and other current and past musicians. The ad features Madonna’s new single, “Hung Up,” and takes place in a phone booth.

Apple offers iPod shuffle custom engraving

imageThe online Apple Store has begun offering free personalized engraving on the iPod shuffle. Unlike the full-size iPod and iPod nano, the laser-engraved text is printed on the side of the shuffle and has a one line, 40 character limit. “Engraving is simple,” explains Apple. “First, choose the iPod, iPod nano or iPod shuffle you want. When you put iPod into your Apple Store shopping cart, you’ll be asked whether you want a personalized engraving. Just enter your text and see what it looks like. Since it’s free, why not do it?”

iPodulator lets you create iPod-compatible reading

iPodulator is a new web service that lets you convert a web page or RSS feed into the proper text format that can be transfered viewed on your iPod. The service works with 3G and 4G iPods and iPod minis.

“Enter a URL above (starting with http://) and hit ‘iPodinate.’ Some sites may not work, like Digg.com. It will take a moment to process. The URL can be a web page or an RSS feed. This will give you a plain text formatted version of the site you enter, perfect for reading on your iPod. Note: the page will look badly formatted on your computer. Don’t worry, it will look great on your iPod. To save it to your iPod: After hitting ‘iPodinate,’ use the ‘Save As’ command in your web browser to save this file to the ‘Notes’ folder of your iPod or save it to someplace on your computer for later copying to the ‘Notes’ folder. That’s it!”

Blog the Book Contest Winners Announced

The three winners of iLounge’s Blog the Book Contest have been announced, and they are:

1st Place: Mugglenet.com (Winner, 10 iPod shuffles or $1000). To further thank Mugglenet, we will also donate one Harry Potter Audiobook Card for the site to do with as it wishes. Congrats!

2nd Place: Junk-Feud.com (Winner, 3 iPod shuffles or $300)
3rd Place: iPodmania.it (Random Winner/25 entries or more, 2 iPod shuffles or $200)

Congratulations to all of the winners and thanks to everyone who entered for your support and participation!

Motorola: ‘Screw nano’ comment just a joke

Motorola public relations has put out a statement in regards to a widely-cited report by the IDG News Service that portrayed Motorola CEO Ed Zander as having animosity for Apple’s iPod nano. The company claims that the “Screw the nano” remark was taken out of context and that Zander was simply joking in response to a question that asked why the Motorola ROKR phone only held a maximum of 100 songs.

“Motorola has a great partnership with Apple. Unfortunately Ed Zander’s comments, made at a conference in California on Friday, were taken out of context,” Motorola said in the statement. “During the Q&A session one questioner repeatedly and insistently asked what Zander thought of the Nano. Jokingly, Zander said he wasn’t there to talk about the Nano—but to talk about the next big thing happening in the industry—the fusion of the phone and music. ROKR with iTunes was a good beginning, he said, and there’s more to come.”

Ped2 stand to get iPod nano compatibility

imageThought Out has announced an upgrade for its Ped2 iPod stand that will allow it to be used with the new iPod nano. The “Nano Adapter Kit,” which will be available in two weeks for $4.99, adds new hardware to the Ped2 that will enable the stand to accommodate devices down to 1.25” wide such as the nano (with or without a case). The company has also revealed an unnamed pedestal project for the nano that will be a complete unit that uses the Apple dock connector. It will be available in approximately 4 weeks for $11.99.

Mix: Jobs, nano sales, INDEX awards, Subway maps, Price cuts

Forbes has ranked Apple CEO Steve Jobs the 67th richest person in America with a net worth of $3.3 billion.

Analysts at UBS Investment Research believe that iPod nano sales will account for just under 50% of total iPods sold in fiscal 2006 and more than 50% of total iPods sold in fiscal 2007.

Apple’s iTunes and iPod won an award in the “Play” category at this year’s INDEX: Awards. The large design event takes place once every four years.

Wired reports that transit officials in New York and San Francisco have launched a “copyright crackdown” on iPodSubwayMaps.com, which offers free downloadable subway maps for color screen Pods.

Audiology has slashed the price of its iTransit protective iPod mini case with neck strap and built-in earphones from $29.99 to $7.50. Tekkeon has cut the price of its myPower rechargeable battery and portable dock from $89.95 to $59.95.

zCover offers silicone protective cases for iPod nano

imagezCover has announced the availability of its first silicone cases for the iPod nano. Available in 9 colors, the shock-absorbing cases protect your iPod nano from scratches and dirt, and provide access to the dock connector port and headphone jack.

Each zCover “iSA micro

Motorola CEO: ‘Screw the nano’

Motorola CEO Ed Zander appears to be more than a little upset that Apple’s iPod nano has stolen the spotlight from his company’s iTunes-enabled ROKR phone. Despite having a partnership with Apple to offer iTunes on his company’s mobile phones, Zander had some very harsh words for the nano in a recent interview. “Screw the nano. What the hell does the nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?” he reportedly said. Zander said consumers are going to want devices that do more than just play music.

iPod nano screen complaints abound

Apple’s iPod nano may be receiving rave reviews, but a slew of nano owners are complaining about the device’s screen getting scratched too easily. Apple’s support forum contains several hundred postings discussing the flaw, with some claiming that their nano’s screen is unreadable because of the scratches. The majority of nano owners made it clear that the device was not treated badly and said pockets, fingernails and soft cloths all caused extreme scuffing.

“I don’t really care if the case on my Nano gets scratched but my screen has scratched up so badly that all the images are starting to become distorted,” one nano owner wrote. “I have only carried it in my small pocket in my shorts and nothing is in there to scratch it. I still can’t figure how the screen looks like it has been rubbed with sandpaper when the entire time it has been safe in my pocket (with absolutely no items).”

Meanwhile, one dissatisfied nano owner has set up FlawedMusicPlayer.com (formerly iPodNanoFlaw.com) to chronicle what he calls an “Apple design flaw” with the nano screen. The person said the screen on his nano unexpectedly cracked after carrying it in his pocket for a short time. He said the player was not subjected to any abuse.

“The iPod Nano is not really to be used. It is way too fragile,” he writes on the site. “Apple markets it in a pocket. Hell, Steve Jobs himself pulls it out of his when he announces it. My Nano broke on day 4. The screen that is. It shattered. It was in my pocket as I was walking and I sat down. No, I didn’t sit on it, it was just in my pocket just as all iPod’s before it have done, and my cell phone, which also has a screen on the outside, does. This is what they were meant to do. That’s why they make them pocket size.”

In what can be considered more than just a coincidence, several iLoungers report that iPodResQ has raised the price of its iPod nano LCD screen replacement service from $99 to $145. “We are experiencing a temporary price increase on the nano LCD repair due to LCD availability and overwhelming demand,” the company states on its website.

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