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Microsoft, SanDisk overstating accessory support

Following recent, separate announcements by SanDisk and Microsoft that certain prominent iPod accessory makers would be producing accessories for their iPod competitors Sansa and Zune, iLounge has confirmed that two of the iPod’s top supporters were listed as SanDisk or Microsoft development partners without having actually agreed to develop any accessories.

Microsoft caught off-guard by new iPod pricing

Apple’s pricing on the updated fifth-generation iPods has caused Microsoft to rethink the price point for its Zune media player, according to one analyst. “Microsoft formally announced its Zune portable media player, with specs in-line with Toshiba FCC filings. However, pricing and timing were not revealed likely because our sources indicate that Apple’s aggressive pricing at $249 for its new 30GB iPod took Microsoft by surprise,” American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note today. “We believe Microsoft is re-thinking its pricing strategy amid potential wider losses to stay competitive in the marketplace. We remain underwhelmed with the much-hyped Zune, which is essentially a repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat, with limited differentiation vs. existing Windows Media devices.” Microsoft was widely expected to announce a $299 retail price this week, but following Apple’s price cut on Tuesday on the 30GB iPod, the company declined to offer pricing or a release date.

Speck debuts leather cases for 2G iPod nano

Speck Products has announced two new leather cases for the second-generation iPod nano. The Executive case features black leather and a belt clip, while the Lady case features pink leather and a wrist strap. Both offer detail stitching and a flip-over front cover. The cases are available immediately for $35 each. Speck said it plans to follow this announcement with an extended assortment of cases next week.

Mix: Zune phone, Marware, NBC shows, Apple stores

Microsoft said yesterday that it plans to introduce a Zune-branded cell phone. “A Zune phone is definitely part of the future of this brand,” Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune, told reporters. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s J. Allard says the iPod is “the Pong of digital music.”

Marware has announced that its C.E.O. line of leather iPod cases is compatible with the new second-generation iPod nano. These products include the C.E.O. Classic, C.E.O Billfold Wallet, and C.E.O. Card Wallet. In addition, the Sportsuit Sleeve and Sportsuit Safari cases also fit the new nano.

Mystery chips, no PortalPlayer inside new iPod nano

As shown in our disassembly photo gallery, the new second-generation iPod nano has three Apple-marked chips of unknown origin and no chip from PortalPlayer. According to a Wedbush Morgan Securities report, one of the Apple-marked chips is a Samsung ARM processor, occupying the socket formerly supplied by PortalPlayer. Earlier this year, PortalPlayer warned that Apple would not use its chips in the next nano, followed by reports that Samsung had won an Apple contract to supply chips for new iPods.

Mophie debuts hard case for new iPod shuffle

Mophie has announced the first case designed specifically for Apple’s second-generation iPod shuffle. Made from crystal clear plastic, the Wraptor case features grooves to wrap your headphone cord around and provides access to the built-in clip. The Wraptor will be available in October for $15.

80GB Enhanced Fifth-Generation iPod, unboxed

In addition to our new full review of the new second-generation iPod nano—including extensive details and photos of every color nano—we’ve just added unboxing photos of Apple’s new 80GB “enhanced” fifth-generation iPod, with brand new shots of the new device. Click on the link below or see our First Look at the Enhanced Fifth-Generation iPod to view pictures of the unboxing process, which now includes no iTunes CD or foam earbud covers.

The new full-size iPod, which was introduced at Apple’s special event in San Francisco on Tuesday, sports an 80GB hard drive, support for iPod-ready video games, 60% brighter display, longer battery life, gapless playback, and new Search and Quick Scroll features.

U.S. antitrust chief comments on iPod, iTunes

The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Thomas O. Barnett, believes that Apple’s iTunes and iPod model doesn’t harm consumers, saying this week that European governments and regulators should take a hands-off approach when it comes to the company’s digital music duo. “Apple provides a useful illustration of how an attack on intellectual-property rights can threaten dynamic innovation,” Barnett said in a speech at the George Mason University School of Law Symposium. “Antitrust law protects competition, not competitors. There are real costs to using antitrust law to protect competitors rather than competition. There is the problem of deterring innovation by the target of the ‘dominance’ attack: If a firm knows it will have to share its intellectual property or be managed by a committee of government regulators, it may not innovate in the first instance.”

Microsoft officially announces Zune player, Marketplace

Microsoft officially announced its Zune media player and new online music service today. As previously reported, the Zune player will feature a 30GB hard drive, Wi-Fi wireless technology, a built-in FM tuner and a 3-inch screen. Microsoft said the Zune will come in three colors—black, brown and white. The company declined, however, to disclose pricing and an exact release date, only saying the Zune player would be available “this holiday season.”

In addition to the player, Microsoft also announced the Zune Marketplace, a new online music service “where you can choose to purchase tracks individually or to buy a Zune Pass subscription to download as many songs as you want for a flat fee.” The Zune Marketplace appears to be part of the Zune media manager software for organizing music, videos and photos and transferring them to the device.

ABC launches Million Hit Lowdown on iTunes Store

To get TV fans ready for the new season of shows, ABC is offering one million free downloads of last season’s finales of Lost, Grey’s Anatomoy, and Desperate Housewives on the iTunes Store. ABC’s “Million Hit Lowdown” is also offering unlimited downloads of “special highlight shows” for each of the three series, featuring commentary from show producers and editors at People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. [via TUAW]

Tunewear offers silicone case for 2G iPod nano

Tunewear has announced the Icewear nano 2G, the company’s first case for Apple’s new second-generation iPod nano. The case is made of high density silicone and features Tunewear’s Rib-Technology and access to all controls and ports. The Icewear for the new nano has openings for the screen and click wheel, but the case comes with Tunefilm clear protective films to cover both. The Icewear nano 2G will be available in October for $13.

Apple moves into No. 5 spot among U.S. music resellers

Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed this week that the iTunes Store is now the fifth-largest seller of music in the U.S. During his presentation at Apple’s “Showtime” event on Tuesday, Jobs cited data from NPD that showed Apple has moved into the No. 5 spot among music resellers, behind Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon. Jobs said it was a milestone because iTunes is the first digital music store to make it into the top five, which is dominated by store’s that only sell physical CDs. What’s more, Jobs said the iTunes Store is on target to pass Amazon to become No. 4 in the first half of next year.

iPod nano 2G autopsy photos posted

In addition to our other coverage of the second-generation iPod nano, iLounge has just posted a complete disassembly / autopsy photo gallery with more than 25 pictures of the new nano’s innards. Visit the iPod nano (second-generation) disassembly gallery here and let us know what you think!

Mophie unveils case for 2G nano, opens up development

Mophie today announced the first case for Apple’s new second-generation iPod nano. Made from clear, hard plastic, the Relo Radura case is priced at $30 and will ship on or before October 12. “Moments after the newly designed iPod lines were announced, mophie Illuminators lit up the night designing, tweaking, prototyping, and rendering a brand new case for the new Apple iPod,” says the company. “Less than 24 hours later, mophie unveils the Relo Radura to the award-winning line of iPod accessories.”

New iPods not available with educational discounts

With yesterday’s introduction of new iPods models, it appears that Apple has halted iPod educational discounts on its online store (and presumably at its retail locations). Several iLoungers note that the online Apple Store for universities and schools, which previously offered discounts of approximately 10% on iPods, now lists the new fifth-generation iPod, second-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod shuffle at full retail prices. In addition, the new iPod models do not qualify for Apple’s Back To School promotion, which allows educational customers to buy a Mac and an iPod and get up to $179 back via mail-in rebate. The promo ends on September 16, 2006.

iPod-enabled tailored suit announced

Eleksen and Bagir announced today that they have teamed up to produce a new men’s suit with iPod connectivity. The Bagir iPod Suit integrates Eleksen’s ElekTex smart fabric touchpad technology, which transforms a lapel into a 5-button electronic control panel for controlling an iPod’s music functions. “The suit is machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant, making it the ideal choice for today’s music-savvy and style conscious business professionals,” according to the companies. The Bagir iPod Suit will be available in five styles, and has a suggested retail price of $280. The suits are expected to be available in November.

Mix: Softbank, DVDs, Apple Software Update, iTunes UI

Japan’s Softbank, which was once rumored to be working with Apple on an “iPhone,” has begun offering a 2GB second-generation iPod nano packaged with one of its own mobile phones. “The new promotion is designed to keep customers for at least two years as Softbank would require them to refund the cost for the handsets if they cancel their subscription within the period.”

Following yesterday’s special event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told The Wall Street Journal that the transition from DVDs to online distribution “wouldn’t happen overnight.” “It takes years of investment,” he said.

Griffin intros iKaraoke, shows iTalkPro, TuneCenter

At Apple Expo in Paris today, Griffin Technology announced the iKaraoke, a new device that aims to turn your iPod into a portable karaoke machine. “A high-quality compact microphone plugs into your iPod and at the flick of a switch, existing vocals fade into the background, leaving instruments and backing vocals intact, allowing you to step up and be the star,” explains Griffin. “iKaraoke sends the music—along with your performance—to your stereo system for the world to enjoy.” The iKaraoke features three levels of reverb to blend vocals and can be connected via a stereo line-in cable or wirelessly through an FM receiver. Pricing and availability was not announced.

Also at Apple Expo, Griffin is showing its TuneCenter iPod AV dock (iLounge rating: B), which was announced at this year’s Macworld Expo, and its iTalkPro recording acessory for fifth-generation iPods, which was shown to iLounge in March.

Newer Technology offers performance battery for 4G iPods

Newer Technology has introduced the NuPower 1350mAh Lithium-Polymer replacement battery for the 40GB fourth-generation iPod and all iPod Photo models. The NuPower 1350mAh is the highest capacity replacement battery ever for the fourth-generation iPod, and delivers up to 150% more run time than the original stock battery. It is priced at $30 and comes with non-abrasive nylon installation tools and free, online step-by-step installation videos.

Apple’s special event by the numbers

During his feature presentation at Apple’s special “Showtime” event yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs provided various sales figures, market share data, and other numerical information:

- 450,000 Nike+iPod Sport Kits sold in less than 90 days
- 70% of 2007 model year automobiles to offer iPod connectivity
- 10 million iPod shuffles sold since its introduction in Jan. 2005
- iTunes Store now accounts for 88% of all legal US downloads
- Over 1.5 billion songs have been sold from the iTunes Store
- iTunes Store No. 1 in all 21 countries with iTunes Store
- 45 million TV shows purchased from iTunes Store in less than a year
- Over 220 TV Shows from over 40 networks now available

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