Reporting from the streets of once famous electronics district Akihabara in Tokyo, Japan, iLounge reader Christian N. has sent a collection of pictures showing the local state of the iPod there, outside of Apple’s official retail stores. You can view the full-sized shots at Read More, below.
The pictures show an iPod time warp, with prominent posters of earlier-generation iPods, as well as display cases filled with new, used and discontinued iPods. Part of this is due to Akihabara’s thriving trade in hard-to-find older electronics; another part is the result of overstock. First-generation iPod minis are shown selling used for 14800 yen ($132), second-generation versions for 15450 yen ($138) to 18550 ($165) yen, third-generation iPods for around 21500 yen ($192), and fourth-generations for between 24800 ($221) to 30800 yen ($275). Japanese companies such as Power Support and Tunewear are shown with significant shelf space in stickers and guards for various iPods, while U.S.-based companies such as Speck, Griffin, and Belkin have major display space, as well. The story is obviously different in Apple’s own stores, which are stocked only with newer iPods and Apple-selected merchandise.
How is the iPod doing in your city? Earlier this week, we posted an iPod report from the streets of Paris, France, and would love to share your impressions and pictures with our readers. If you’re outside the U.S., e-mail jeremy (at) ilounge.com to submit your photos and brief reports. Thanks to Christian for his update!
Now available is the eleventh iLounge podcast, and the first Week in Review to come from an Apple Expo, co-hosted by iLounge’s Bob Levens and Jeremy Horwitz. Live from Paris, France, this week’s podcast discusses the new Altec Lansing inMotion iM5 speakers, iM616 and iM716 headphones, Belkin’s Tunedok and Griffin’s Smartdeck. Products from Harman Kardon, Macally and Monitor Audio are also featured, as well as Power Support’s latest art cases.
Past podcasts are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.
Belkin today announced three new leather cases for the iPod nano. The cases, which will be available next month, are all priced at $24.99 and come in black, white, pink and light blue. “Designed to reinforce the nano’s minimalist industrial design approach, Belkin’s cases fully manage various aspects of user functionality while still maintaining a sleek-yet-simple aesthetic design,” according to the company.
Carabineer Case for iPod nano
The Caribineer Case features a form-fitting design that “keeps your nano form slim while still giving you complete and easy accessibility to all ports” and a carabineer clip and locking clip.
Flip Case for iPod nano
Belkin’s Flip Case offers a flip-down front, built-in cable management and features a multi-mount clip and hook for a variety of ways to secure your nano. It also provides accessibility to all ports and controls.
Folio Case for iPod nano
The Folio Case opens up like a book or organizer wallet and features a wrist strap and access to all ports controls. Like the other cases, it also features a form-fitting design.
Market research firm iSuppli has disassembled a 2GB iPod nano and estimates the $199 device’s components to cost Apple $90.18 to build and $8 to assemble, leaving a profit margin of about 50% before marketing and distribution costs.
“That’s consistent with the margins on earlier iPod versions and serves as a reminder of what a profit machine the iPod family of products has become for Apple since it was introduced in 2001,” notes BusinessWeek.
iSuppli also confirmed who makes the parts Apple used in the device. As expected, the firm said the nano’s audio-chip is made by PortalPlayer, its flash memory by Samsung, and that Apple dropped the touch-sensitive technology from Synaptics in favor of an Apple-designed click wheel that contains a 55-cent chip from Cypress.
Noreve has announced its Tradition leather case for the iPod nano. The case features a flip-top design with snap closure, a removable belt clip, and is available in four colors—black, white, pink and light blue. It provides access to the screen, click wheel, hold switch, headphone jack and dock connector port. The Noreve Tradition leather case for the iPod nano is priced at €33 and will be available later this month.
The Guardian has posted an article based on an exclusive interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Referring to upcoming products, Jobs says that “a lot of new things in the pipeline.”
Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman has spoken out on iTunes song pricing: “There’s no content in the world that has doesn’t have some price flexibility. Not all songs are created equal. Not all albums are created equal,” he said. “That’s not to say we want to raise prices across the board or that we don’t believe in a 99-cent price point for most music. But there are some songs for which consumers would be willing to pay more. And some we’d be willing to sell for less.”
BusinessWeek has an article on Apple rivals who are busy readying portable video solutions. “For the market to really take off, though, portable-player makers probably will need to go further in creating easy-to-use one-stop shops that offer a wide array of video. And who better to do that than Apple, which already has brought music, short videos, and podcasts to its iTunes Music Store?”
TEN Technology, makers of the naviPro eX and naviPod remote, said it is ready for Apple’s iPod nano. “We had already been planning remotes that would work with the 30 pin dock so they would be compatible with all dock connector-equipped iPods, including the nano,” John Lin, CEO of TEN Technology. “So by looking ahead, we not only have compatible products available now, but we will be rolling out entirely new nano products very soon.
Griffin Technology announced today that its iFM is now shipping. The small aluminum device integrates an FM radio tuner, voice and radio recorder, and remote control functions. The iFM functions as a remote for 3G/4G iPods and iPod minis and features a digital FM radio with a band-switch function to switch between US, European and Japanese FM bands. It also lets you record radio content and, using a built-in omnidirectional microphone, voice memos. Radio and voice recordings (3G/4G models supported) are automatically saved to the iPod. The iFM sells for $49.99. Griffin said that a version of the iFM that is compatible with Apple’s new iPod nano will be available in November.
In this week’s look at the iLounge Discussion Forums: iLounge member mcdj continues to impress fellow iLoungers with his conceptual art for iPod nano cases. So far he has presented The nanoPipes, The nanotes, The Nanoroll, The nanoPipe - Drivers Edition and The nanoHatch. Keep your eyes peeled for his next idea.
Found a non-obvious use for your iPod? Some suggestions are shared here by readers - “Non-Obvious Things You Can Do With Your IPod”. Do you have anything to add to the list?
One thing which everyone seems to be reporting is the susceptibility of the iPod nano to scratching - this is not a new problem as search of our “old forums” produced what may have been the very first reports of iPods scratching - back in November, 2001. This current thread shows how members are constantly searching for ways to remove the marks of everyday wear and tear.
And finally this week: do you have an iPod full of Podcasts and wonder how to delete them? This tip from a member may answer your question.
Tekkeon has introduced the myTune FM, a new in-car FM transmitter and charger that mounts to an automobile’s air vent. The all-in-one device features an iPod cradle that transmits music to your car stereo on one of seven pre-set frequencies (87.7-88.9) and charges your iPod through your car’s cigarette lighter outlet. The myTune FM also offers a USB 2.0 port and includes two arms to hold your iPod in place—one for full-sized iPods (3G/4G) and one for the iPod mini. The device retails for $69.95.
Cingular, which teamed up with Motorola and Apple to launch the iTunes-enabled ROKR mobile phone, said it plans to offer a service early next year that will let users download music to their phones wirelessly over the company’s network. The service’s song download fees would likely be “slightly higher” than the 99-cent pricing on iTunes, Ralph de la Vega, chief operating officer at Cingular said on Wednesday. He said details of the service were still being worked out, but noted that he hoped it could be done in partnership with Apple.
Apple today released iPod Updater 2005-09-23, which includes new software to correct issues with the iPod shuffle. According to Apple’s release notes, the update contains iPod Software 1.1.2 for the shuffle, but the same software versions as iPod Updater 2005-09-06 for all other iPods. No other specific changes were available beyond the statement that the update provides “bug fixes for iPod shuffle.”
Congratulations to the winners of iLounge’s Search for iPod Trivia contest! Each of these three winners will receive a Klipsch iFi Speaker System for the iPod (value: $399), courtesy of Klipsch.
Michael Ollier of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Great Britain
Erica Hyman of Cranbury, New Jersey, United States
Vernon Tang of Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Our other contest, Blog The Book, is now in its final 48 hours. For more information on the contest and its total of 15 iPod shuffles (or $1500) in prizes, please see the official contest page.
Following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ remarks on iTunes pricing yesterday, an anonymous record label executive told MTV that there’s a simple explantion for Jobs wanting to keep the prices at 99 cents: “It helps him sell iPods. When he started iTunes, he broke through that psychological barrier that consumers had and made a lot of dough doing it, but it seems like he has a monopoly and he’s become the Wal-Mart of the Internet, and he wants to retain that monopoly.”
CNET has a report on the growing number of couples who are turning to iPods to handle the music at their wedding receptions. “What could be easier?” says Lori Leibovich, editor of IndieBride.com. “You bring it, you program it, it sounds great. It doesn’t surprise me at all that more people are doing it.”
Business 2.0 reports that Creative Technology plans to shift its marketing focus from its MP3 players to its PC sound card line. “Creative made lots of noise last November, when it unveiled two new MP3 players that it predicted would help it take 40 percent of the global market this year. But, analysts say, despite spending about $100 million to promote its MuVo and Zen models, the company’s market share is still around 10 percent (compared with Apple’s 70)... Tellingly, Creative has begun shifting its promotional efforts toward its new line of sound cards.” [via MDN]
In yet another bad review for the Motorola ROKR, Fortune’s Peter Lewis writes: “The most inexcusable failing of the ROKR is that for all the anticipation, many of its features do not work as advertised. Doesn’t anybody test these things before selling them to the public? The ROKR software is sluggish and clunky, and transferring songs into the ROKR’s memory is so slow—even on a dual-processor Apple Power Mac G5—that I was almost glad of the 100-song limit.”
Following its debut at Apple Expo Paris yesterday, Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has formally announced the HomeDock, a new iPod docking center that lets users play their music through their home stereo, display photo slideshows on their televisions, charge their iPod and sync it to their computer. The accessory sports RCA connectors, Composite Video, S-Video, USB 2.0 and and comes with a remote control. The DLO HomeDock is designed for the for iPod, iPod nano and iPod mini. It costs $99.99 and will be available next month.
“The HomeDock is a completely new kind of iPod accessory that creates a ‘home’ for the iPod in the living room and provides a permanent simple connection to existing Home Stereo Systems and Televisions,” says DLO. “With the HomeDock, owners can simply dock their iPod to enjoy their music and photos without the hassle of additional cables, adapters or multiple other accessories. While docked and charging, the iPod is controlled with the included 14-function Remote Control.”
Additional photographs are available in Gallery 1 from Apple Expo Paris.
H2O Audio, maker of waterproof iPod cases, has announced a new waterproof RCA cable and case enhancement for its SV-iP4G product line. The new cable allows watersport enthusiasts to connect their iPods to any stereo system with standard RCA inputs, including most marine audio systems, outdoor stereos, and spas. The RCA cable accessory sells for $19.95. The upgrade kit for H20’s SV-iP4G case provides owners of the slightly thicker 20GB and 30GB color screen iPods with a waterproof housing and headset solution. The free modification kit lets owners of the company’s standard 4G iPod case to easily upgrade it to accommodate the color screen models.
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.”