iCueMix is a new iTunes plug-in for Windows users that delivers “personalized, mood-based mixes with a just single click.” iCueMix lets you: dynamically create a personalized mix with a single mouse click; modify a mix while you play, to build a mix for your every mood; discover new music based upon your collection, tastes and mood; share and compare your mixes with other iCueMix users; build and automatically sync personalized mixes for your iPod; and more.
“iCueMix uses artificial intelligence technology applied to your music collection to work out what songs to recommend in a mix,” explains the developer. “iCueMix has a community server that knows the music tastes of thousands of users that an iCueMix user can share and compare mixes against. It provides essential new song recommendations to complement your collection or the mix you are building. These recommendations, if required, can be purchased seamlessly via iTunes.”
Deutsche Bank has initiated coverage of Apple, forecasting that the company will ship 31 million iPod units in calendar 2005 and 43 million units in calendar 2006. “Due its strong product portfolio, market-share leadership, and the stickiness of iTunes, we believe Apple will continue to dominate this product category,” the firm said.
A four-store record shop chain in New Jersey is offering a “Buy It, Burn It, Return It” policy—customers can buy a CD, take it home and rip a copy to their computer. Within 10 days, they can return the disc for 70% store credit. “We don’t want to “butt heads with iPod owners,” said co-owner Jeff Scotti. “We have to embrace them.”
As expected, Dell has quietly launched a new flash-based device in an attempt to compete with the iPod shuffle. Its new $99 DJ Ditty comes with 512MB of storage, a tiny display and FM tuner.
iPod battery problems recently became the focus of a BBC TV investigation on UK consumer advocate show “Watchdog.” “If you bought your iPod before May last year, the in-built battery was supposed to last for up to 12 hours without the need for recharging. But for the owners of many of these older models, the music has been fading a lot more quickly,” Watchdog writes.
As noted first in iLounge’s Sneak Peeks special from Apple Expo, Altec Lansing has introduced a new iPod speaker system, two new sets of earphones, and two carrying cases for its inMotion iM7 speakers.
This compact speaker system features four full-range micro drivers and an iPod docking station that slides in and out like a drawer at the push of a button. As a replacement for the original inMotion and inMotion Plus speakers with identical drivers, iM5 “serves up rich, full-bodied sound that fills the room,” also offers a composite video output jack, a subwoofer output connection, auxiliary input port, and comes with a deluxe carrying bag. It runs off AC or battery power (up to 24 hours of operation) and works with all dockable iPods (3G/4G/photo and iPod mini). The inMotion iM5 will be available later this month for $149.99.
inMotion iM616 and inMotion iM716
Altec Lansing’s first earphones are largely based on the ER-4 and ER-6 in-ear earphones from Etymotic Research. The white iM716 model offers a sound accuracy rating of 90% by comparison with ER-4 and incorporates a volume control, a bass boost switch, and improved ease of insertion into the ear.
The black iM616 has an 84% sound accuracy rating and provides the same ergonomics with increased sensitivity and a more mild bass boost. Both models come with three-flanged or soft foam ear tips, carry case with cable management, and one pair of replacement filters. The inMotion iM616 and iM716 will be available later this month for $149.99 and $199.99, respectively.
inMotion iM7 Shoulder Harness and Shoulder Pack
The new carrying cases for Altec Lansing’s iM7 system offer protection and a convenient way to tote around the iPod boombox. The Shoulder Harness is made of durable leatherette material and has an open design with a storage compartment for accessories and a padded handle and shoulder strap.
The Shoulder Pack is made from ballistic nylon and completely encases the iM7. It features an easy-access double-zipper and a large storage compartment for iM7 accessories, as well as a padded handle and shoulder strap.
Apple has updated iTunes to version 5.0.1 to address fairly widespread issues affecting users. According to the brief releases notes accompanying the update, version 5.0.1 “features several stability improvements over iTunes 5.” No other specific details are available at this time. iTunes 5.0.1 can be downloaded here.
Last week, Apple acknowledged the problems users were experiencing and said it would release an update to fix the issues. “Apple is aware that a limited number of customers are experiencing issues with installing iTunes 5,
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has provided further details on iPod nano sales, noting that black models are greatly outselling white models. “Our checks continue to indicate good iPod nano sales, albeit not great,” Wu said in a research noted obtained by iLounge. “Black nanos are selling well, while white nanos continue to lag. We are hearing that Apple grossly underestimated demand for the $249 black 4GB iPod nano and is realigning its supply chain to meet this demand dynamic.”
Wu said customers would look to other nano models if the 4GB black model was unavailable, and said he still believes the nano will need a capacity increase or price cut. “In the meantime, we believe some customers looking for a black 4GB iPod nano end up buying a black 2GB nano or white 4 GB nano as a compromise,” he said. “We continue to believe that iPod nano may need a storage upgrade and/or price cut to spur sales beyond black 4GB iPod nanos.”
Speaking today at Apple Expo in Paris, Steve Jobs commented on portable video devices: “Whether people want to buy a device just to watch video is not clear—so far the answer’s been no. Devices that do video… have not been successful yet. No-one’s figured out the right formula.”
Following a similar price cut in the US, Apple has lowered prices in the UK for its iPod battery replacement service to £49 from £79.
Kevin Hellhake has come up with a creative way to use his iPod nano packaging to mount his nano in his truck.
Mass Storage Synchronizer is a new “Windows-based iTunes Add-on for Sony Ericsson Walkman Phones, Sony Clie PDA and Sony Ericsson P900/P910 Smartphone
Tunewear has announced the Prie Ambassador, a new leather case for the iPod nano, 4G iPod (all models including iPod photo) and iPod mini. The $50 case features a removable belt clip and a removable hook to attach it to a belt loop or strap. The Prie Ambassador also has clear vinyl windows to protect the iPod’s screen and click wheel, dual snap-button closure, and provides full access to the headphone jack and hold switch. It will be available next month in Black and Red, Black and White, and White and White designs.
PodGear today announced the PocketParty for iPod nano, a new version of the company’s micro speaker system designed specifically for Apple’s latest iPod.
The system, which weighs just 38 grams, offers 1 watt of stereo output from two tiny angled speakers, comes with a removable desktop stand, and runs for up to 10 hours from a single AA battery. The PocketParty for iPod nano will be available next month for approximately $45. PodGear said it is working on complete range of accessories for the iPod nano and plans to announce new gear in the coming weeks.
“Our PocketParty products have been a huge success, allowing people to use their iPods in the park, in hotel rooms and anywhere on the go without needing bulky portable speakers. The PocketParty for iPod nano offers improved sound appreciation on its predecessors and comes complete with LED indicator light and angled speaker grills for superior stereo sound.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs today called the major music labels “greedy” for considering a hike in the price of songs on iTunes and warned that such a move would drive users back to piracy.
“If they want to raise the prices, it means that they are getting a little greedy,” Jobs told reporters before the opening of Apple Expo in Paris. “We’re trying to compete with piracy, we’re trying to pull people away from piracy and say, ‘You can buy these songs legally for a fair price,’” he said. “But if the price goes up a lot, they’ll go back to piracy. Then everybody loses.”
Meanwhile, Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, said the company was not planning to add radio features to the iPod because there was not enough demand for it.
XtremeMac today introduced its FS1 high definition earphones, which use proprietary drivers and technologies recently developed by Future Sonics to “produce a natural tone and rich, deep bass—even at the lowest volume levels—that surpass the performance of any other earphones on the market.” The earphones are priced at $149.95 and are expected to begin shipping in November.
“The FS1 High Definition Earphones deliver richer sound than you’ve ever heard before,” says XtremeMac. “Featuring a professional-grade audio driver designed by Future Sonics, they utilize technology developed exclusively for live music performances. The technology includes a dynamic transducer that provides smoother and more consistent low frequency response, as well as a more natural overall tone.”
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced its new Relaxed Leather iPod cases. The cases, which fit all fourth-generation iPods, come in six different designs featuring contrast stitching, brass rivets and worn leather textures. They sport a protective flip-over cover, belt clip, and an inside pocket for ID, credit cards or cash. The cases also offer access to all iPod controls and ports. The DLO Relaxed Leather iPod cases start at $34.99.
Oregon Scientific has announced the iBall, a new wireless iPod speaker system that features unique sphere styling. The $300 system consists of the iBall three-speaker array and a transmitter dock that communicates wirelessly with the iBall, as well as charges the iPod, and syncs it with a computer. The two devices work up to 100 feet away.
The iBall uses advanced 2.4 GHz Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) wireless technology to “deliver the best possible sound fidelity while managing environmental wireless interference by rapidly hopping the audio signals to the next, clearest channel.” The iBall also features a built-in RF remote control, LCD display, auxiliary stereo line-in jack, S-Video, and A/V stereo line-out.
Oregon Scientific’s iBall is compatible with 3G/4G iPods, the iPod mini and iPod shuffle (seven iPod adaptors included, shuffle adaptor sold separately).
Check out iLounge’s First Looks Special on the iBall.
iLounge’s Dennis Lloyd and Jeremy Horwitz are on the scene at this week’s Apple Expo in Paris, France. They will be bringing you exclusive hands-on reports of all the iPod and iTunes products being shown at the event. While Apple has stated that Steve Jobs will not be delivering a keynote speech, the CEO and other Apple executives will reportedly be on hand for a Q&A session with the media.
iSkin has provided iLounge with a prototype rendering of its first silicone case for Apple’s iPod nano. The company said the iSkin Duo for iPod nano will be similar to the recently announced Duo case for the iPod shuffle, which features two layers of high-grade silicone protection. The new nano case will also come with an iSkin Wheel Cap click wheel protector. iSkin said it is aiming for an October-November release for the nano Duo case and is expecting to offer it for a retail price of $29.99.
Harman Multimedia has announced several new iPod products that it will debut this week at Apple Expo in Paris. The new accessories include the JBL On Stage II, the JBL On Tour Black, the JBL Creature II speakers in red and aluminum, “The Bridge
Incase this week will announce its first accessory for the iPod nano—the Sports Case with Armband. The new case, designed for active use such as running or working out, features a neoprene sleeve for the nano, and comes with an adjustable velcro armband, neoprene hand strap, and an attachment that lets you hook it to your belt or a bag strap. It also offers complete access to all controls and has a clear screen protector. The Incase Sports Case with Armband for iPod nano will be in Apple retail stores early next month for $29.95.
Following the introduction of the iPod nano, Costco has lowered the price of the 4GB iPod mini to $149.99 (from $189.99). The 6GB mini is priced at $239.99 from Costco.
CNET has ranked the original iPod its No. 1 gadget of the past 10 years. “No other product has had the incredible, loyal devotion that the iPod inspires. It’s also one of only a handful of products to get a 9 rating from CNET. It revolutionized and popularized music players with its stylish design and is still considered the industry leader. Even if you devoutly believe other music players have better features now, you have to acknowledge that iPod is still the king.”
Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPod worldwide product marketing, will participate in a panel discussion during the Digital Life exhibition, which begins October 14.
“Demand for the iPod Nano has been predictably strong ever since Apple introduced the latest member of the popular iPod family on Sept. 7,” writes Benny Evangelista of the San Francisco Chronicle. “What’s unusual is the instantly emotional, fawning reaction the Nano receives almost universally, from loyal customers to skeptical technology reviewers. Experts say that kind of rare gotta-have-it reaction is the result of a calculated strategy by Apple that combines innovative design and marketing.”
Pacific Rim Technologies has cut the price of its Cube Travel Speakers by 50%. Until September 24th, the company is offering them for $19.99 using coupon code APPLEEXPO.
Matias has announced the availability of its new USB 2.0 Keyboard, which features a USB 2.0 dock for iPods and other devices. The keyboard, which was first unveiled in July, lets users sync their iPod via a convenient port on the the top of the product. The USB 2.0 Keyboard is available now for both PCs and Macs, in US, French, UK, and German layouts. It retails for $39.95, or $49.95 with a 2-button optical wheel mouse.
“Mac users have been plugging USB cables into their keyboards for years, but many newer devices require the higher speed of USB 2.0,” says Matias. “iPods, USB flash drives, and newer digital cameras can take forever to transfer files if you don’t have USB 2.0. Our new USB 2.0 Keyboard gives you transfer speeds up to 40 times faster than regular USB keyboards.”
Belkin tomorrow will announce its TuneBase for iPod shuffle. The accessory allows you to mount and charge your shuffle in your vehicle, and features a flexible neck for positioning and a 3.5mm line-out jack for use with the specially designed Belkin Cassette Adapter (included) or select FM transmitters. The TuneBase for iPod shuffle will be available in November for $39.99.
In other Belkin news, the company will announce that its existing line of iPod accessories includes many devices that are compatible with the new iPod nano, including the TuneCast II and Auto Kit for iPod, which are both available in white and black versions. Belkin said that new nano accessories will be available starting in October.
Now available is the tenth iLounge podcast, and the first “true” Week in Review, co-hosted by iLounge’s Bob Levens and Jeremy Horwitz. Even if you’ve skipped past podcasts, you’ll want to listen to this one.
News in this week’s podcast includes Speck’s new iPod nano cases, Incase’s line of collegiate cases, iTunes 5 problems and a new feature. We also cover reviews of Apple’s iPod nano, Motorola ROKR E1 phone, Sharper Image iSphere and iPulse, Belkin TuneStage, and Design Annex iBeat. Both audio-only and enhanced versions of the podcast are available now.
Past podcasts are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.