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‘Cult of iPod’ book being released in November

imageNo Starch Press will release Leander Kahney’s “Cult of iPod” book on November 1st. A follow-up to his “Cult of Mac” book, the title offers “a comprehensive look at how Apple’s hit iPod is changing music, culture, and listening behavior,” according to the book’s description. “The Cult of iPod includes the exclusive back story of the iPod’s development; looks at the many ways iPod’s users pay homage to their devices; and investigates the quirkier aspects of iPod culture, such as iPod-jacking (strangers plugging into each other’s iPods to discover new music) as well as the growing legions of MP3Js (regular folks who use their iPods to become DJs). 4-color throughout.”

STM unveils Cocoon for iPod nano

imageSTM has introduced a new version of its Cocoon case designed specifically for the iPod nano. The Cocoon offers two forms of protection—a silicone skin and a hard outer shell—that can be used together or separately. The silicone skin features a neck lanyard and screen protector, while the zip-up hard case, made from compressed EVA, offers a belt clip, soft inner lining, and a mesh pocket for earphones. The Cocoon for the iPod nano will be available in November for $35. “So whether you’re at the gym, doing housework or sipping cocktails by the beach, safeguard your iPod nano in an STM cocoon and silicone skin,” says STM.

Mix: AAPL, iTunes pricing, Disney, Nanyard, Discounts

Merrill Lynch has downgraded Apple’s stock to “neutral” from “buy.” Merrill analyst Richard Farmer said Apple’s iPod line would “continue its hot streak, but noted that the growth rate for the MP3 player would have to decelerate—he projects leaps of 33% in 2006 and 25% in 2007,” reports Forbes.

In an article entitled “Why Apple Won’t Up-Charge Downloads,” BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl writes about the iTunes pricing battle and the war of words going on between Warner Music and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reports [paid sub. req.]: “Walt Disney is set to announce today the release of a $49 digital audio player aimed at 6- to 12-year-olds. Like most digital audio players, Disney’s Mix Sticks allows users to download music from the Internet or from CDs copied on a computer. But the device also allows users to plug-and-play music by inserting postage-stamp-size memory cards called Mix Clips, which can hold about the same amount of music as a CD.” [via PaidContent.org]

DAP Review has an article on how to build your own “Nanyard Lanyard” for the iPod Nano with the dock connector of a spare iPod USB or FireWire cable, a chain, a drill and some black spray paint.

Simpl Acoustics has provided a 15% off coupon for all iLoungers on its A1 headphone amplifier for iPod. Enter coupon code LOUNGE at checkout. Meanwhile, Proporta is offering one Advanced Wash-and-Replace iPod nano Screen Protector free to each of the first 25 people who use promo code NANOPROTECTED. After the first 25 sales, they’re offering 50% off your purchase.

Banana Republic offers leather iPod cases

imageBanana Republic has added two new iPod cases to its online store. The clothing retailer’s “Leather iPod Case” works with fourth-generation iPods and features Italian leather construction, a belt clip and clear screen protector. It’s available in cognac and red for $38.

Banana Republic’s “Leather Mini Music Player Case,” for Apple’s iPod mini, is also made from Italian leather and features a belt clip and protective flap with magnetic closure. The mini case is available in black, cognac and red for $32.

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.

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