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SwimMan waterproofs iPod shuffle from inside out

SwimMan has taken a novel approach to waterproofing an iPod by doing so from the inside out. The company, using proprietary internal waterproofing technology, is selling altered second-generation iPod shuffles that are waterproof up to 10 feet below water. This alteration, according to the company, in no way impacts the outside of the player so that it can retain its original look. Customers can choose to buy the waterproofed shuffle on its own ($150), or bundled with SwimMan’s Waterproof Headset II ($250).

Chinese iPhone knock-off on the way

Chinese electronics maker Meizu is the first company to closely copy the look and feel of Apple’s iPhone. The Meizu miniOne, due out in the fourth quarter of 2007, is a GSM phone with numerous iPhone similarities, including a curved, black and polished steel design, touch-screen interface, and a nearly identical on-screen software icon layout. According to preliminary specifications, the miniOne is slightly smaller and thinner than the iPhone, has a higher resolution screen, and runs the Windows CE 6.0 operating system. Meizu also claims that the phone will be powered by the ARM11 processor and will sport two built-in cameras—a 3.0 megapixel camera on the back and an 0.3 megapixel camera on the phone’s face.

Mix: Monster Cable, eMusic, Prada phone, Grammy winners

Monster Cable has announced its support of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ anti-DRM open letter. “DRM is a complex and political issue, but digital music compatibility is even more complicated to consumers and limiting to the industry,” said the company. “We are proud to support an open format and leaders like Steve Jobs who are making the efforts to get us there.”

Without DRM restrictions on digital music, “Sales would explode,” says David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, the No. 2 online music retailer behind iTunes. “DRM has been holding the market back,” he says.

At the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Woo-Young Kwak, head of LG’s mobile handset R&D center, said Apple’s iPhone is a copy of LG’s Prada phone. “We consider that Apple copycat Prada phone after the design was unveiled when it was presented in the iF Design Award and won the prize in September 2006,” he said.

Apple has put together a section on the iTunes Store featuring winners from the 49th Annual Grammy Awards. Winners include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Dixie Chicks, Mary J. Blige, Gnarls Barkley, John Mayer, and Carrie Underwood.

Aquapac offers up new waterproof iPod-friendly accessories

Aquapac, a maker of waterproof consumer electronics accessories, has announced two new iPod-compatible products. The first is a set of 100% Waterproof Headphones ($40), which sport an in-ear design and have been tested for use down to about 10 ft. under water. The second new item is an iPod/MP3 Player Case ($40), which is designed to protect your iPod from sand, water and dirt via features like a built-in external headphone jack, clear front panel and a submersible depth up to 15 ft.

Apple TV still on track to ship this month

Apple has denied a report claiming the release of its Apple TV streaming media device would be delayed until March. An Apple spokeswoman said it is “business as usual” for the launch of Apple TV. “We are still planning to release Apple TV in February as announced,” she said. The statement was in response to a Think Secret report, which said “the first shipments of Apple TV to the company’s retail stores have been pushed back to the beginning of March.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple TV under the code name iTV in September last year. Apple has been accepting pre-orders for the device since last month’s Macworld Expo.

Report: Beatles music won’t be iTunes exclusive

The Beatles’ music catalog will soon be offered online, but will not be available exclusively from the iTunes Store as recent rumors have suggested. Neil Aspinall, the head of the Beatles’ Apple Corps, told Fox News that when the Beatles songs do get released online for downloading, “it will be on all the services, not just one.” That potentially means stores such as iTunes, Yahoo Music, Microsoft’s Zune store, and RealNetwork’s Rhapsody could all offer the the Beatles catalog.

Fox News also speculates that Apple Corps may have received iTunes and iPod royalties in its recent settlement with Apple Inc. “If you missed it, Apple Corps. sued Apple Inc. in 2002 over trademark violations after signing a 1991 agreement,” reports Fox News. “Jobs et al won, but the case went to appeal. Before the appeals court could make a ruling, a settlement was reached. The Beatles, sources say (and not Aspinall, whom I didn’t even discuss this with), may have won royalties on Apple iTunes/iPod hardware as part of the settlement.”

Electronic Arts: iPhone may play games

Electronic Arts looks to be talking with Apple about developing casual games for the upcoming iPhone, according to BusinessWeek. EA currently produces such titles for the iPod. Mitch Lasky of EA Mobile told said his company is in talks with Apple regarding iPhone plans and that “we see a lot of the technology that we’ve utilized on the iPod side being incorporated into the iPhone.” Apple at this point has not indicated if games would be developed for the new device.

Mix: iPod Tax, Star Trek, BlackBerry, Yahoo Music

The Canadian Private Copying Collective—an association of composers, recording artists, publishers, and record labels—is asking the Copyright Board of Canada to re-introduce the controversial “iPod Tax” fee into the sale price of MP3 players in Canada.

Apple has quietly removed both “Star Trek: The Original Series” and “Star Trek: Enterprise” from the iTunes Store. No reason was given. Star Trek movies remain for sale on iTunes.

Apple’s iPhone does not pose a threat to the BlackBerry Pearl, RIM’s co-chief executive said in an interview. “It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers,” Jim Balsillie said. “But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.”

Dave Goldberg, head of Yahoo Music, agrees with Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ recent call for DRM-free music. “I’ve long advocated removing DRM on music because there is already a lot of music available without  DRM, and it just makes things complicated for the user,” Goldberg said. He also noted that the Microsoft DRM that Yahoo Music uses “doesn’t work half the time.”

Proporta intros Carabiner Crystal Case for 2G iPod nano

Proporta has introduced the Carabiner Crystal Case, a new protective case for the second-generation iPod nano. Made from the same type of polycarbonate plastic used to make protective eyewear, the case is said to be shatterproof and shock absorbent, and allows you to see the screen through the case’s clear design while also providing cut out access to all ports and controls. The case is made of two parts which slide together, and comes with a carabiner clip.

Lionsgate movies come to iTunes Store

Apple today announced that movies from Lionsgate are now available from the iTunes Store. Currently available Lionsgate films, most priced at $9.99, include “Terminator 2,” “LA Story,” “Basic Instinct,” “The Blair Witch Project” and “Dirty Dancing.” Apple said more than 150 titles will be coming to iTunes this month. Future additions include “Total Recall,” “Rambo,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Chaplin,” and “The Boys From Brazil.”

Apple tells bar owner to stop using iPod name

A bar owner in Des Moines, Iowa, looks to have gotten himself into hot water with Apple’s legal department over a weekly iPod event he hosts. Clint Curtis, owner of Lift, runs a weekly event called iPod Monday in which he lets those who bring their iPods share their music collections with others. Apple recently sent Curtis a cease-and-desist email in which they told him “with respect to the podcast and associated site, iPod Monday, Apple has determined that your product name, which incorporates the word ‘iPod’, violates Apple’s trademark guidelines… please choose a name for your product that is consistent with Apple’s guidelines (that does not include iPod or any other Apple trademark or variation thereon).”

Report: EMI considering DRM-free music

Following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ open letter on digital rights management (DRM) this week, EMI has reportedly been holding talks with online music resellers about the possibility of selling a large portion of its catalog in unprotected MP3 format. An industry source told Reuters that EMI was seeking large advance payments from online retailers in exchange for the right to sell its music without DRM. “Lack of operability between a proliferating range of devices and hardware and the digital platforms for delivering music is more and more becoming an issue for music consumers and EMI has been engaging with our various partners to find a solution,” an EMI spokeswoman said.

Apple TV to play games?

The Apple TV could soon be used to play video games, according to an executive at PopCap Games. Greg Canessa, former general manager of Xbox Live Arcade and PopCap’s new vice president of video game platforms, said in an interview with Wired that his company plans to develop PopCap games for several devices, including the Apple TV. “I will help proliferate their titles on other consoles. It’s a broad in scope role,” Canessa said. “It will be about taking the stable of franchises and games out of PopCap’s studio and adapting, customizing it for different platforms—adding multiplayer, new play modes, HD, customizing the user interface and display for Zune, iPod, Apple TV, Nintendo DS, PSP.” PopCap already makes two iPod games—Bejeweled and Zuma.

Logic3 debuts iStation Traveller iPod speaker system

Logic3 recently announced the iStation Traveller ($35), a portable speaker system for the iPod available in six colors. The compact iStation Traveller, which consists of foldable speakers, a slip case and four AAA batteries, connects to iPods via the dock connector and other audio devices via a 3.5mm stereo line-in cable. It outputs sound via a total of 4 watts.

Scion lineup offers standard iPod connectivity

Scion announced today that iPod connectivity is standard across its entire lineup for 2008. Scion said its standard 160-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD audio system features a head unit with iPod control. “This head unit integrates track, artist and album information from the iPod into a one-line display on the head unit’s screen,” explains the car maker. “Connectivity is achieved by simply plugging the iPod into a port via a connector cable, providing outstanding sound quality through the car’s stereo system and constant power to the iPod. Music is controlled through the head unit and steering wheel audio controls.”

Boomwave ships Bearaphim, Diablo Spectrum SE cases

Boomwave (previously Podstar) has announced the release of its Bearaphim and Diablo Spectrum Special Edition silicone cases for Apple’s second-generation iPod nano. The Bearaphim cases (shown below) are available in six “very beary designs” in pink, green, blue, white, black and red. They include a removable colored click wheel protector, screen protector, and neck strap. The Diablo Spectrum Special Edition cases are an extension of Boomwave’s best-selling Diablo Spectrum range and feature two distinctive covers—Ever Reddy and Whacko Blacko. All of the cases sell for $20 each.

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Reaction to Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ call for end of DRM

“We agree wholeheartedly with Jobs, since EFF has been making exactly the same points for several years now. As a first step in putting his music store where his mouth is, we urge him to take immediate steps to remove the DRM on the independent label content in the iTunes Store. Why wait for the major record labels?”—Derek Slater, Electronic Frontier Foundation

“[Jobs’ argument to drop DRM] is without logic and merit. We will not abandon DRM.”—Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music CEO

“I don’t expect the record labels to move very quickly in this direction. It would be very hard for the music industry to walk away from all the lawsuits they have filed against individual consumers, some against 15-year-olds, and say digital rights management is not a big deal.”— James McQuivey, Forrester Research

“It’s a bold move on his part. If anything can play on anything, it’s a clear win for the consumer electronics device world, but a potential disaster for the content companies.”—Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic and former senior VP for digital distribution for EMI Music

“[Jobs’ letter was] irresponsible, or at the very least naïve. It’s like he’s on top of the mountain making pronouncements, while we’re here on the ground working with the industry to make it happen.”— Jason Reindorp, marketing director for Zune at Microsoft

“We welcome Apple taking this problem seriously, and addressing it at such a high level. It is clear that the record industry has some of the responsibility, but that does not relieve Apple of responsibility. Our concern is, of course, that Apple and iTunes Music Store should be addressing the issue of record companies and DRM themselves if it needs to be addressed. It’s iTunes Music Store that’s providing a service to the consumers and therefore has the responsibility.”—Torgeir Waterhouse, senior adviser to the Norwegian Consumer Council

“The essay ultimately comes across as more of a finger-pointing exercise than anything else, concluding by telling European governments to turn their attention to (European) record companies instead of Apple. The company’s proposal of two equally unpleasant alternatives—Apple DRM or no DRM—makes some rhetorical sense, but obviously doesn’t encompass all of the potential solutions out there, and as neither Apple option will satisfy sabre-rattlers, it won’t stop those trying to force FairPlay licensing upon the company.”—Jeremy Horwitz, iLounge

“Most technologists have always believed this and apparently now Steve Jobs is saying it publicly. He is begging the music industry to give up on all the DRM initiatives while subtly predicting they may spell its doom. He is dead right.”—John C. Dvorak, Marketwatch

“There is a less than 25% chance that the music industry will license music to online stores without any DRM. Record labels have worked hard to protect their product from theft by negotiating DRM requirements, so despite Jobs’ request, DRM free online music services are not likely to be the norm any time soon.”—Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray

“Is it a challenge to the major record labels? An answer to the increasingly hostile European governments (Norway, France, Germany) that are pressuring Apple to “open up” the iTunes Store? A message to the press to clarify Apple’s stance on DRM? A big f***-you to Microsoft? It is all of these things.”—John Gruber, Daring Fireball

“Apple’s offer to license Fairplay to other technology companies is a welcome breakthrough and would be a real victory for fans, artists and labels. There have been many services seeking a license to the Apple DRM. This would enable the interoperability that we have been urging for a very long time.”—RIAA (misunderstanding Jobs’ letter)

“It should not take Apple’s iTunes team more than 2-3 days to implement a solution for not wrapping content with FairPlay when the content owner does not mandate DRM. This could be done in a completely transparent way and would not be confusing to the users. Actions speak louder than words, Steve.”—Jon Lech Johansen (AKA DVD Jon)

“We’re not going to broadly license our content for unprotected digital distribution.”—Anonymous music company executive

“Last time I checked, Apple also sold TV shows, music videos, and films on iTunes Music Store, and they are all protected by FairPlay DRM. Why didn’t Jobs make the same courageous stand against DRM on video? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t very pretty: Apple doesn’t have anywhere near the same clout in the movie and TV business that it has in music, and has only signed film deals with two of the major studios as a result. Taking a stand against DRM for movies would anger the same people he is trying to make deals with.”—Andrew Shebanow, Shebanation

“We’ve been talking about the need for open formats for a very long time.”—Dan Sheeran, senior vice president for digital music at RealNetworks

“I’ve always assumed that DRM was a condition set by the record labels, not by Apple, and that Apple conceded only as a way to get the labels to sell their music through iTunes. Interoperability will drive iPod sales, and also music sales. This is what we at the Canadian Music Creators Coaltions (CMCC) have been pushing, and I’m glad to see Apple make a push for a DRM-free world.”—Steven Page, Barenaked Ladies

“In the near-term, this letter is going to have minimal impact. I fundamentally agree with much of what Jobs said. The record labels drive DRM adoption. DRM is not going away because the record labels aren’t going to let it go away. They are too paranoid about piracy.”—Michael Goodman, Yankee Group

iLounge’s Jeremy Horwitz on Your Mac Life tonight

iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz will will appear tonight on the popular Internet Radio broadcast Your Mac Life. Topics discussed will include Apple and The Beatles. The broadcast will begin at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, 5:30 p.m. Pacific. An audio feed is available here, with a QuickTime video feed available here.

Thinklabs electronic stethoscope records heart sounds to iPod

The Thinklabs ds32a Digital Electronic Stethoscope—which ships with a 2GB iPod nano and XtremeMac Micromemo recording accessory—provides sound amplification for a doctor who might be trying to listen to your heart or lungs as well as the ability to mute volume while you cough. The $495 set can also connect to an iPod for recording and later playback of your heartbeat.
[via CrunchGear]

New York Senator proposes fine for ‘iPod oblivion’

In an attempt to help stop pedestrian accidents, New York Senator Carl Kruger is proposing a law to ban iPods and cells phones while crossing city streets. Kruger’s legislation, which will be introduced in Albany today, will slap pedestrians with a $100 fine if they are caught crossing the street with their earbuds in—what Kruger calls iPod oblivion. “We’re talking about people walking sort of tuned in and in the process of being tuned in, tuned out,” Kruger said. “Tuned out to the world around them. They’re walking into speeding cars. They’re walking into buses. They’re walking into one another and it’s creating a number of fatalities that have been documented right here in the city.”

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