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Sonance parent forms iPort division for iPod gear

imageDana Innovations, parent company of Sonance, maker of the iPort in-wall iPod interface for home music systems, has announced the formation of its new iPort division. The Sonance name will apparently not be used for its iPod products going forward.

“The new brand, which plans to capitalize on the explosive growth and market dominance of the iPod music player, will have its own development, sales, and marketing team, and will be lead by company chairman and co-founder, Scott Struthers,” Dana said in a statement. “The team plans to introduce a full line of iPort branded product in the near future.”

Prototype Numark iPod DJ mixer shown

imageAt the Musikmesse show in Frankfurt, Numark showed off an early prototype of an iPod DJ mixer. Little is known about what features the company aims to include in a final product, but German hip hop site WebBeatz was able to acquire a prototype rendering and a prototype photo of the actual device.

Create Digital Music reports: “In one of the photos of the actual prototype, the iPods aren’t even plugged in. Conceptually, though, the idea is interesting, and aside from allowing basic DJ mixing and crossfading, a buffer could grab audio from the audio for brief scratching. Apparently pitch control is possible, too, though limited, and it’s not clear how they might fix iPod cueing; in other words, all the normal limitations of the iPod for DJing apply. Don’t expect this to ship any time soon.”

DVForge ships JamPod, The Clips

DVForge has announced that two of its recently announced iPod products are now shipping.

JamPod ($29.99) plugs into the top of any Dock Connector iPod (3G/4G, photo and mini) and lets you play an electric guitar along with the songs on your iPod.

The Clips ($14.99) is a set of three different mounting clips for the iPod shuffle, including a belt clip, a gripper clip, and a push pin clip which snap securely onto the USB plug end of the shuffle.

Apple takes lead in flash market, continues domination

During its second quarter conference call with press and analysts, Apple revealed that the iPod shuffle was the No. 1 selling flash-based MP3 player worldwide in February with 43 percent market share. The iPod shuffle is expected to be the top-selling flash player in the coming months, but NPD Techworld (which calculates the sales numbers) has not yet released reports for March.

Apple’s iTunes Music Store remains the clear leader in online music sales with a share of 70-75 percent, according to Nielsen Soundscan. The company said over 350 million songs have now been purchased and downloaded from iTunes.

In addition, Apple’s share of the worldwide hard drive-based MP3 player market stands at over 90 percent. With Apple’s quick takeover of the flash market, the company now accounts for more than 70 percent of all MP3 players sold.

Apple also said that Hewlett Packard’s share of the iPod market dropped last quarter to only 3 percent of iPod sales.

Apple ships 5.3 million iPods in Q2 [updated]

Reporting its fiscal 2005 second quarter financial results on Wednesday, Apple announced that it shipped more than 5.3 million iPods during the quarter — about 700,000 more than it shipped in the brisk holiday quarter and about 4.5 million more than it did in the year-ago quarter. The total number of iPods sold now stands at over 15 million.

Apple’s net profit for the quarter was $290 million, or 34 cents per share, on $3.24 billion in revenue. These results compare to a profit of $46 million, or 6 cents a share, last year.

“We are delighted to report a record second quarter for Apple in both revenue and earnings,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Apple is firing on all cylinders and we have some incredible new products in the pipeline for the coming year, starting with Mac OS X Tiger later this month.”

Apple said its music products accounted for 38 percent of its total revenue for the quarter. All iPod models brought in more than $1.014 billion in revenue for Apple during the quarter, an increase of 284 percent in revenue. Apple’s “Other Music Products” category, which includes the iTunes Music Store, iPod related services and accessories, accounted for $216 million of the quarter’s revenue, a 260 percent increase year-over-year.

MP3 players to achieve ‘critical mass’ this year

U.S. shipments of portable MP3 players will grow 35 percent to 18.2 million units in 2005, according to a new report from JupiterResearch. “MP3 players will reach critical mass this year, fueling demand for digital music services and stores,” the firm said. Jupiter forecasts that digital audio devices will maintain an annual growth rate of over 10 percent through 2010, reaching an installed base of 56.1 million, up from 16.2 million in 2004.

“Apple shows no signs of losing momentum,” said Michael Gartenberg, VP and Research Director at JupiterResearch. “The iPod is a consumer phenomenon. Apple dominates this sector and will dominate portable MP3 player growth over the medium term,” added Gartenberg. The firm raised its near-term forecast “mostly due to the iPod’s success,” but projects that shipments of flash-based players will surpass those of hard-drive models in 2007.

Report: Apple to launch iTMS in Japan by year-end

Apple plans to launch a version of its iTunes Music Store in Japan by the end of the year, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, which cites Apple Japan’s representative director Yoshiaki Sakito.

“Apple previously held back from starting such operations due to problems such as the strict management of copyright ownership by Japanese record companies. But the rapid growth in the digital music market in Japan as well as a more open approach by record companies has made the move toward offering online music services possible.”

Mix: Your Mac Life, AAPL, iPod Accident, iPod shuffle cake

Larry Angell, iLounge’s News Editor, will be on tonight’s Your Mac Life radio show. The broadcast begins at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Apple is due to report its fiscal second-quarter results later today. Analysts expect the company to earn 24 cents a share on $3.25 billion in revenue.

A Florida teenager “fiddling with his iPod music player while skating during rush hour was killed when he crashed into a westbound SUV,” according to the Sun Sentinel.

The wife of Gizmodo reader Danny Sohayda has baked a tasty iPod shuffle cake.

Mac: Synergy 1.8 released

Synergy 1.8 from Wincet Software is an update to the popular iTunes add-on that puts buttons to control the application in your Mac OS X menu bar. Synergy also features system-wide hot keys, automatic cover art downloads, and a semi-transparent “floater” that lets you know what’s playing. Version 1.8 includes a number of bug fixes, updates and features to get Synergy ready for the upcoming release of Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger, according to the developer.

Mix: Inventions, Duke program, Tiger, iPod shuffle cake

CNN/Money has named the iPod one of the “five inventions to change your life.”

Duke University’s decision to continue its iPod program is “a poor one — this year has clearly shown the limited academic use of the expensive devices, the selective distribution of iPods will create undesired incentives for students to enroll in certain classes… the program is nothing more than a marketing scheme.”

Mac OS X version 10.4 Tiger, the next version of Apple’s powerful operating system, will go on sale Friday, April 29, beginning at 6:00 p.m. during special events at Apple retail stores.

Mike Davidson is giving away an iPod shuffle to the person who creates the best iPod shuffle out of nothing but food.

HP now selling iPod photos [updated]

imageAs expected, Hewlett-Packard has expanded its line of HP-branded iPods to include Apple’s new 30GB and 60GB iPod photo models. HP’s versions are identical to the Apple iPod photos save for packaging and HP’s Total Care customer support service, which includes one year of phone support and a one-year warranty.

The two new HP iPod models will not refer to their photo capabilities in their names, and will each only be called the “Apple iPod from HP.” An HP representative told iLounge the reasoning behind this decision: “We did not call this the iPod photo because we wished to avoid confusion between these products and our other photo offerings such as digital cameras. So, while our packaging and other marketing materials will make the photo viewing and sharing capabilities of the product clear, we chose not to include the word photo in the product name.”

The new HP iPods will soon be available for the same pricing as Apple ($349 for the 30GB model and $449 for the 60GB model) on HP’s online store and at a number of major retailers, including Circuit City, Radio Shack, Sears and Wal-Mart. HP confirmed that it will continue to offer the 20GB iPod with monochrome display for $299. Unsurprisingly, the 40GB HP iPod, which was based on the now discontinued Apple version, is no longer offered.

AudioOutfitters offers iPod shuffle extension cable

AudioOutfitters has announced the ezLink extension cord for iPod shuffle owners. The white cable connects to a standard USB 2.0 computer port and can be “routed to a more convenient spot, so you can plug your iPod shuffle into your computer quickly and easily,” according to the company. The ezLink shuffle is 4.5 feet in length and includes an ezclasp clip to secure it to your desktop, computer monitor, or other surface. It’s priced at $14.

SiK intros line-out/FireWire adapter

imageSiK has announced the ram din, a portable line-out and FireWire adapter for all Dock Connector iPod models. Access to an iPod’s line-out audio is provided via a gold-plated right-angle stereo mini plug, while the FireWire port allows you to charge/sync your iPod.

“The ram din is the perfect solution for connecting your iPod to an external headphone amplifier or other device with line input,” says SiK. The ram din, which is now shipping, is available in black or white for $21.95.

Mobile phone industry has iPod in its sights

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an article [paid sub. req.] on the challenges Apple is facing from the $100 billion mobile phone industry. Apple’s digital music lead “may not last much longer,” the article says, because cell phone makers and wireless carriers are “piling into mobile music, with an array of new services and phones that could radically change a game that until now has been defined largely by Apple.”

“Despite Apple’s domination of the digital music sector the market remains in its infancy. The balance of power could tip suddenly and dramatically, especially if Apple doesn’t race to get its music technology into cell phones — an effort that’s had some hiccups. Last year, manufacturers sold an estimated seven million MP3 players in the U.S., a figure dwarfed by the roughly 80 million cell phones sold in the country.”

The article also cites a recent survey by Jupiter Research which showed that 76% of those asked said they carry a mobile phone regularly, while only 7% said the same about a music player.

Some analysts, however, believe consumers will still want devices designed for a specific purpose, and not an all-in-one gadget that does several things, but none of them great. “It’s hard to view the music phone as a direct threat to music players, any more than camera phones have put cameras out of business,” says Michael Gartenberg, director of research at Jupiter Research.

Yamaha EC-02 scooter gets iPod treatment

imageYamaha has created a special version of its EC-02 electric scooter that features built-in stereo speakers on the sides and a docking area for a fourth-generation iPod just in front of the seat. The iPod-equipped EC-02 also features an amplifier, an extra battery, and an Apple wired remote that’s molded into a compartment on the right handlebar.

According to iLounger Kazutoshi Otani, this version of the EC-02 is just a concept and is not for sale to the public.

‘iPod & iTunes: The Missing Manual, Third Edition’ released

O’Reilly has announced the release of “iPod & iTunes: The Missing Manual, Third Edition” by New York Times tech columnist J.D. Biersdorfer. The $24.95 book is an updated version of the popular title that aims to help readers get the most out of their iPods.

“This book is one-stop shopping for iPod reference and information,” promises Biersdorfer. “It takes you on a joyride through the iPod subculture. And it guides you through all the cool musical and nonmusical things you can do with your iPod, from looking up phone numbers to checking the weather report. You’ll also find heaping helpings of the Three T’s: tips, tricks, and troubleshooting.”

Paag offers variety of iPod sleeves

imagePaag has introduced a new line of stylish sleeves for Dock Connector iPods (3G, 4G, photo and mini).

Paag’s offerings include: Paag Signature Quilted ($21.95 - espresso sheen with orange stitches); Chewbacca Puff ($29.95 - a furry beige sleeve); Liquid Shadow ($29.95 - black plastic); Incognito ($21.95 - gray camouflage plush); Tao Butterfly ($29.95 - pink butterflies on black silk); and Zen Citrus ($29.95 - bamboo leaves on light green silk.

Each sleeve features an earbud pocket and quilted satin lining.

Mix: Switch, Time 100, iPod graphics, iPod shuffle utility

Apple has added a new tutorial on the Switch section of its website to show Windows users how to use their iPod to transfer files to their new Mac.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs was named to this year’s Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people.

A recent Apple job posting reveals that the company is looking for a Graphics Software Engineer to “develop graphics and imaging frameworks for future iPod user interfaces.”

More consumers prefer a la carte pay-per-download services like Apple’s iTunes over unlimited subscription services such as Napster, according to a new study by research firm Ipsos-Insight.

Martin Fiedler has created a small utility called iPod shuffle Database Builder that allows users to drag-and-drop MP3s onto the player without having to use iTunes.

President Bush’s iPod: 250 Songs, Downloaded by Others

In an unusually detailed look at the music collection of a sitting President, The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller reports that the “First iPod” has become the “indispensible new exercise toy” of George W. Bush, and is “loaded with country and popular rock tunes”, “heavy on traditional country singers like George Jones, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney.” Received from his daughters as a birthday gift in July 2004, the iPod contains only 250 songs, and is used “chiefly during bike workouts to help him pump up his heartbeat, which he monitors with a wrist strap.”

Most interestingly, The Times reports that Bush “does not take the time to download the music himself;” rather, he has had his personal aide buy songs from the iTunes Music Store, and “also has an eclectic mix of songs downloaded into his iPod from Mark McKinnon, a biking buddy and his chief media strategist during the 2004 campaign.”

Site updates continuing, comments welcomed

Update as of Saturday, April 9 at 2:09PM PST: We are aware that a significant number of our readers are experiencing formatting issues with the new homepage on different browsers, and we’re working hard to fix them. There will be a number of additional tweaks to the main page over the next 24-48 hours to further improve layout and readability, so stay tuned.

A picture of the homepage as it generally should display on your monitor can now be viewed by clicking on Read More below. If it is not displaying in this way, your browser is likely set to display fonts at an unusual size, and most layout issues can be temporarily fixed by adjusting downwards to “normal” font settings.

And yes, the navigation bar will soon be fully functional. Instead of drop-down menus, the gray bar will change contextually by section (news, articles, free music, etc) to let you jump to the preferred sub-section below.

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