Analysts report that the iPod nano, which can store more than just music files, is driving down prices of portable USB flash drives, memory cards and MP3 players.
Volkswagen is releasing a limited edition “VW iFox” in Europe that is equipped with a Blaupunkt Calgary MP3 radio, an iPod adapter and a 2GB iPod nano with a VW logo engraved on the back. [via Engadget]
Blogger Todd Dailey has posted an article on how to remove scratches from your iPod nano using a $4 can of Brasso.
USA Today’s Edward C. Baig gives the iPod nano four out of four stars and writes: “I wanted to spend meaningful time with the device before weighing in with a review. I wanted to make sure the Nano’s beauty was more than skin deep. It is. There’s a reason the Nano has rapidly emerged as Apple’s latest status symbol of choice: It’s a digital music player priced at $199 to $249 that is actually more affordable than its larger and more capacious siblings.”
Piper Jaffray analysts are predicting that Sony may challenge the iPod with the launch of a next generation PSP with an integrated hard drive to store music and videos.
Tunewear has announced the Tunetag Edge, a dog-tag style silicone case for Apple’s iPod nano. The case, which covers only the sides and back of the nano, comes with a removable ball-bearing style chain so that you can attach it to a belt loop, bag strap or elsewhere. It uses the same high density silicone as the company’s Icewear cases, and allows full access to the headphone jack, hold switch and click wheel. The Tunetag Edge will be available next month. Pricing was not announced.
According to internet search behavior data from Hitwise, U.S. searches for “ipod nano” increased 133 percent the week ending Sept. 24, versus the week of its introduction (week ending Sept. 10, 2005), and the market share of total internet visits to Apple’s website shot past peak levels during the 2004 holiday shopping season.
“The iPod has consistently been one of the most searched for items on the Internet in the past year,” said Bill Tancer, general manager of worldwide research at Hitwise. “The share of searches on the iPod nano has eclipsed any other iPod product in the past year, suggesting that the consumer love-affair with the iPod has been reinvigorated with this product introduction.”
Griffin Technology announced today that it is now shipping the SmartDeck Intelligent Cassette Adapter for iPod (iLounge Rating: B+). The $29.99 accessory allows users to control their iPod using the built in controls of their cassette player.
“SmartDeck is more than just a cassette adapter for iPod; it achieves truly seamless integration between iPod and cassette deck,” says Griffin. “Users can utilize the cassette deck’s forward and rewind buttons to advance to the next or prior songs in the iPod playlist. In addition, pause and stop buttons do what pause and stop buttons are expected to do. When the user hits the cassette deck’s Eject button or switches from Cassette to Radio, Griffin’s SmartPlay technology automatically pauses the iPod.”
Griffin said that a version of the SmartDeck compatible with the iPod nano is expected to begin shipping in November.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has announced that its TransPod all-in-one iPod car accessory is compatible with the iPod nano. The company said that an included iPod mini insert and extra fit pads can be used to create a snug fit for the nano. A TransPod Fit Kit that includes detailed instructions for fitting a nano into the TransPod is available for download from DLO’s website.
“The DLO TransPod is the home for your iPod in your car, and it performs beautifully with the new iPod nano,” the company says. “It works with all dockable iPods so the whole family has one, simple solution for enjoying their iPods in the car.”
Motorola CEO Ed Zander added to the ongoing speculation of Apple’s intent to create its own mobile phone with comments today to CNET News.com. “We know that they are going to build a smart phone—it’s only a matter of time,” he said after his presentation today at Technology Review’s Emerging Technologies Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Also, as a Motorola representative did earlier this week, Zander downplayed his comments about the iPod nano, claiming they were “taken completely out of context. We have a great relationship with Apple. I’ve known Steve Jobs for 15 years. Sure, there is some tension there. We have the Rokr, and they have the Nano. They are a competitor as well as a partner.”
No 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 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.
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 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 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 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 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.
Wallet 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.
Neoprene 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.
Leather 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.
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…”
UK 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.”
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.
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 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.
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 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.