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Over half a billion songs sold from iTunes Music Store

imageLess than two weeks since Apple announced its countdown to half a billion songs sweepstakes, the 500 millionth song has been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store.

While Apple has yet to release an official announcement telling who the winning customer is, or what track they purchased, the company has posted a large banner on announcing the milestone. “Thanks to all the music fans in 19 countries for making the iTunes Music Store the #1 music download store,” the banner reads.

The winning downloader will receive 10 iPods, a “gold” iTunes gift card for 10,000 free songs and an all-expenses paid trip for four to see Coldplay in concert. Those that bought winning songs at each 100,000 interval will get an iPod mini and an a 50-song iTunes gift card.

Update: Apple has now posted a complete list of winners and their purchased song.

New Podcast: The iLounge Week in Review

imageLive from Cambridge in the United Kingdom, it’s the iLounge Week in Review, with your new host Bob Levens!

iLounge’s first podcasts launched as experiments last year, and we’ve been playing with a number of ideas since then to bring you a regular weekly offering of some sort. Because of the rapid pace of iPod news and updates to our site, we’ve decided to try this new Week in Review format - a single podcast to launch each Friday, helping you get caught up on what’s happened in the iPod, iTunes, and iLounge universes.

This edition is a test of the new format and will go through additional evolutions in the immediate future, with capsule summaries of reviews, tutorials and more to follow. As we continue to tinker with the podcast, your comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

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Tivoli announces iSongBook stereo and radio

Tivoli Audio has today announced the iSongBook Portable iPod Music System ($329), a weather-resistant speaker and radio system built specifically for the iPod. Planned for a Holiday 2005 release, the white and gray unit measures 6.2” high by 11” wide and 2.2” deep, and promises high-fidelity stereo sound. It is capable of running off of AC or DC power, or using either alkaline or rechargeable batteries.


According to the company, the iSongBook is “built around our popular portable digital radio” and “introduces a number of firsts in a dedicated ‘Made for iPod’ product.” A flip-down docking station is found to the unit’s left, a detachable speaker to its right, and an backlit clock radio, alarm, and sleep timer are found as parts of its control console. Users can “Wake to iPod, radio, or tone” with the alarm, input from non-iPod devices, and output to headphones. The unit also includes a remote with Album and Playlist controls, integrated cable management, and a built-in charger for NiMH and NiCAD batteries.

FastMac offers battery upgrade for 4G iPods

FastMac has expanded its TruePower line of replacement iPod batteries with the addition of a battery upgrade for all fourth-generation iPods. The company is accepting pre-orders now for the $29.95 battery, which will ship next month with a 2-year warranty and necessary tools and installation instructions.

“TruePower upgrades replace the iPod’s original internal Lithium-Ion battery with a larger capacity and longer lasting advanced power cell,” explains FastMac. “The upgrade offers 20%-70% more capacity than the original (depending on iPod model) and up to 7.5 times as many charge cycles. This is accomplished through the use of TruePower’s patented nanoparticle technology, which significantly slows the degradation of the battery.”

Mix: Japan iTMS, Video iPod, Music services, Shuffle shipments

AFX News Limited is the latest to report that Apple will launch an iTunes Music Store in Japan next month.

PBS tech pundit Robert X. Cringely is once again speculating about a video iPod and “iTunes Movie Store.” [via MDN]

There are now over 230 online digital music services worldwide, a recent eMarketer research report found.

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu says that nearly half of the 6.2 million iPods Apple shipped last quarter were likely iPod shuffles.

iSkin unveils Wild Sides for iPod mini

imageiSkin today announced the availability of its Wild Sides protectors for the iPod mini. The distinctive silicone skins are available in three colors—Verve (bright green and white), Rebel (deep blue and white) and Diva (hot pink and white)—and have photo-luminous glow-in-the-dark stripes. The Mini Wild Sides also feature a colored screen protector, an iSkin REVOClip, and a swirl printed Click Wheel protector. They’re priced at $29.99.

Tune Belt intros new armband for iPod shuffle

imageTune Belt has announced a new “Open View

Windows: iPod Access 2.4 released

iPod Access 2.4 from Findley Designs is the latest version of the Windows utility that enables you to copy songs from your iPod back to your computer. Version 2.4 adds iTunes 4.9 support, correctly shows playlists on all iPods, and features more robust file re-naming. iPod Access for Windows is available for $14.99.

Forums: Forum reshuffling, Gadget habit, Deleting Podcasts

This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums: with increased interest in Podcasts, our existing Podcast & Podcasting forum has now been promoted from a subforum to the main Forums page. Make sure to check it out!

We’ve also rearranged our iPod forums. Our old iPod photo forum has been converted to iPod (Color/Photo) to cover the updated iPod range, while all black and white (monochrome) iPod discussion can now be found in the renamed iPod (Black & White) forum. A similar reshuffle has taken place in the Problems & Solutions Discussion Forums.

Got a gadget habit? In a similar vein to the popular Workspace and Desktop threads, a member has asked for other Loungers to post their favorite gadgets. Share your obsession…

Finally, the question of how to delete Podcasts from your iPod after you have listened to them has been raised in the Podcasts Discussion forum.

Griffin intros SiliSkins for iPod shuffle

imageGriffin Technology has announced the SiliSkins, a set of silicone skins for the iPod shuffle. Each SiliSkins package comes with three skins in three frosted colors: clear, pink and blue. The set is priced at $19.99.

“Shelter your iPod shuffle from scratches, drops, and bump,” says Griffin. “Pick a color to fit your mood or activity. Mix and match cap colors for a look all your own. SiliSkins are form-fitted and their see-through design allow for easy operation of the iPod shuffle.”

Mix: Tech Night Owl, Microsoft/Creative, iPod eBooks

iLounge Contributing Editor Kirk McElhearn will be on The Tech Night Owl Live tonight. You can tune in to the broadcast from 9:00 to 11:00 PM ET to hear the show.

In order to better compete with the iPod, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates reportedly said that his company would work closer with Creative Technology. “The iPod has done great marketing and great design,

Matias USB 2.0 keyboard doubles as iPod shuffle dock

imageMatias has unveiled a new computer keyboard that features a dedicated USB 2.0 dock for the iPod shuffle (or other iPod using a USB cable).

The Matias USB 2.0 Keyboard, which was originally planned to be called the “iPod shuffleboard,” also features two USB 1.1 ports for other devices such as your mouse and joystick. It comes in two versions—a white, Mac-only version with Option Key symbols like the company’s OS X Keyboard and Tactile Pro Keyboard, and a black version that works with both Macs and PCs. They both sell for $39.95, or $49.95 with a mouse.

iKeychain for iPod shuffle announced

imageThe iKeychain is a new machined aluminum iPod shuffle case that doubles as a keychain. The case is available in black, blue, gold, red, and polished aluminum for $29.95. Pure silver and gold plated versions are also available for $99.95.

“To test the strength of the iKeychain, we ran over it with a car five times and the case remained in tact,” says the manufacturer. “This durability can come in handy when using your shuffle while skateboarding, rollerblading, mountain biking, snowboarding, snowskiing, bungee jumping, skydiving…you get the picture.” [via TUAW]

Mix: Mass market, AAPL, Podcasting, Sony players

“Apple is becoming a mass market company,” Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said today. “The next perceptual change could be investor recognition that the company is building a sustainable consumer franchise. Although the current focus is music, look for Apple to go after video in the home with an emphasis on high definition.”

Shares of Apple surged today after the company reported its best quarterly profit ever and better than expected iPod sales. The company’s positive results also gave a boost to the companies that supply components for the iPod.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has written an interesting article on Apple’s fast adoption of podcasting, noting that speed was of the essence with incorporating the new technology into iTunes.

Sony has knocked Apple from the top spot of the flash-based MP3 player market in Japan with its new stylish devices. Sony’s share for flash memory players rose from 4 percent in March to 27 percent in June. Apple’s share with the iPod shuffle in Japan has fallen to under 20 percent.

Newer Technology offers iPod photo replacement battery

Newer Technology is now offering a high-capacity 900mAh replacement battery for all iPod photo models and fourth-generation 40GB iPod models. The battery sells for $29.99 and ships with instructions and installation tools, though “professional installation is highly recommended,” according to the company. The replacement battery provides nearly 30 percent more capacity for iPod photo models and 50 percent more capacity for the fourth-generation 40GB iPod.

iPockets add storage to back of iPod

imageiPockets are stick-on plastic sleeves for the iPod designed to let you store items such as credit cards, money, drivers license or house key. They’re available in clear, pink, blue, green, orange, and red for the iPod ($3.99) and iPod mini ($2.99).

“iPockets are an inexpensive but valuable asset for your iPod,” explains the company behind the product. “They are a super thin and ultra light weight storage system that attaches easily to your iPod. Use them to store items you need to take with you while you’re on the go.”

Apple ships 6.1 million iPods, tops analyst expectations [updated]

Reporting its fiscal 2005 third quarter financial results on Wednesday, Apple announced that it shipped more than 6.1 million iPods during the quarter, topping all analyst estimates, which ranged from 4.8 million to 5.55 million.

With today’s report of Apple shipping 6,155,000 iPods during the quarter—about 800,000 more than last quarter and 5.3 million more than a year ago—the total number of iPods sold now stands at over 20 million.

Apple’s net profit for the quarter was $320 million, or 37 cents per share, on $3.52 billion in revenue—the highest earnings and revenue in the company’s history. These results compare to a profit of $61 million, or 8 cents a share, and revenue of $2.01 billion last year.

In an SEC filing, Apple said all iPod models accounted for more than $1.1 billion in revenue during the quarter, an increase of 343 percent compared to last year. Apple’s “Other Music Products

Muff Dock lets your iPod relax, recharge

imageMuff Pod has add to its unique selection of iPod gear with its new Muff Dock. Described as the first fully functional iPod beanbag, the Muff Dock allows your iPod to “relax, recharge and sync in stylish comfort.”

The $19 accessory is designed to let you use the Dock Connector cord while keeping your iPod “well-supported in an upright comfy position.” It’s available in four styles—“Tarty,” “Assault,” “Fluffy” (shown), and “Bluey Green Cord”—and works with all iPods.

Etchamac puts laser etched images on your iPod

imageEtchamac has expanded its custom laser etching service to include the iPod and iPod mini. The company uses a CO2 laser to professionally etch the image or text (or both) of your choice directly to the backside of your iPod. Text costs $30 for both iPods and iPod minis, while an image and text costs $50 for full-size iPods and $40 for iPod minis.

“The process is done at low power and can not damage your iPod,” explains Etchamac. “The process is quick, clean, and permanent. From family pictures to corporate logos, line art, or your favorite team. You give us the art and we will etch your iPod or Powerbook.”

Mix: iPod shipments, Album sales, Macworld Expo, Sales growth

Bloomberg reports that Apple’s iPod shipments “probably dropped in the third quarter from the second [from 5.31 million to 5.29 million units], the first decline in more than two years and a sign the surge in demand for the music players may be waning.”

U.S. music fans downloaded 158 million songs from services like Apple’s iTunes Music Store during the first half of the year, compared with 55 million in the year-ago period, according to a recent SoundScan report.

The Boston Herald says that iPod accessories and associated gear will “dominate at least 10 percent of exhibit space” and “nearly a quarter of all conferences” at Macworld Expo in Boston this week.

In further pessimistic news that iPod sales may have plateaued, BusinessWeek says that sales growth is expected to cool from 234% in 2005 to 18% in 2006. “With every passing quarter, the company that set the music world on fire with the iPod is in greater need of an encore,” the publication says.

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