Further solidifying the iPod’s future, Apple today announced that it has reached long-term agreements with Hynix, Intel, Micron, Samsung and Toshiba to secure a large supply of NAND flash memory through 2010. Apple said it will prepay a total of $1.25 billion for flash memory components during the next three months. “We want to be able to produce as many of our wildly popular iPods as the market demands,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Apple also subtly announced that it has now shipped over 30 million iPods.
Update: In a separate announcement, Intel and Micron Technology said that they will be launching a joint venture to produce NAND flash memory, with Apple prepaying $500 million to secure its place in line for the chips.
“Intel will own 49 percent of the new company, IM Flash Technologies, with the remaining controlling stake held by Micron,” reports CNET News.com. “Intel and Micron will each initially contribute $1.2 billion to building plants in Idaho, Utah and Virginia, with plans to add another $1.4 billion each over the next three years. The joint venture is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.”
Another related story notes that Samsung plans to invest about $615 million to build a new production facility to meet rising demand for its NAND flash and DRAM chips. The new plant will be based in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, and is expected to open in the first half of 2006.
TiVo on Monday is expected to announce plans to enable users of its digital video recorders to transfer television shows onto Apple’s fifth-generation (video) iPods, as well as Sony’s PlayStation Portable, with the company’s TiVoToGo service.
TiVo admitted that the process of encoding and transferring video content to the new iPod won’t be speedy. While the new software automates the synchronizing of a TiVo and iPod, users are expected to set the devices to do the transferring overnight.
“Getting TiVo to work with an iPod isn’t as simple as downloading music and videos to Apple’s device from iTunes,” reports The Wall Street Journal [paid sub. req.]. “First, a user’s TiVo records a show onto the machine’s hard drive. Then, the program is transferred over a home network to a PC, where it is translated into a video format compatible with the iPod. Next, the video must be transferred to the iPod from the PC. The whole process of getting an hour-long show onto an iPod could take more than two hours from the time a TiVo device finishes recording it.”
The TiVoToGo service, introduced in January, has allowed users to transfer recorded shows to Windows PCs and portable devices based on Microsoft’s Portable Media Center platform. With the added support for the MPEG-4 video format, the company is also adding new copy-protection measures at the same time.
Tivo said the shows recorded with the new TiVoToGo software will have digital watermarks to prevent piracy. The recorded programs will have the watermark embedded in the video file, allowing TiVo to trace and identify the origin of the recorded show.
Tivo will reportedly begin testing the new TiVoToGo software with iPod support “within the next couple of weeks,” according to the Journal, and will make the service available to all of its users in the first quarter of next year for a one-time fee, likely to be between $15 to $30.
In an obvious spoof of the frequency of new iPod announcements and the device’s increasingly smaller form factor, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was portrayed on yesterday’s Saturday Night Live introducing three new iPod models.
During the Weekend Update segment of the show, a cast member playing Jobs told Weekend Update anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler that the iPod nano and video iPod are now “both obsolete” and pulled the tiny iPod micro from his pocket, noting that it held 50,000 songs. Jobs said, however, that it would be obsolete by Thanksgiving and then introduced the even smaller iPod pequeño, which holds 1 million songs, but said it too would be obsolete by this Christmas. Jobs then proceeded to debut the iPod invisa (just the actor’s two fingers pressed together) and said it held 8 million songs and “every photograph ever taken.”
A video of the sketch can be viewed here.
The settlement to the iPod battery class-action lawsuit, which was approved by a judge in August, has been appealed. Apple reportedly said that it did not file the appeal, but declined further comment. The appeal will delay the benefits owed to eligible iPod owners.
“On October 24, 2005, a notice of appeal was filed in the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, against the approved iPod Settlement,” reads a note on the settlement’s official website. “As a result, Settlement benefits will not be provided unless and until the appeal is resolved. This could take an extended period of time (up to a year or more). Until that time, Apple’s normal policies are in effect. Please check this website periodically for updates regarding the status of the appeal.”
Under the settlement, consumers who bought first- or second-generation iPods before May 31, 2004 are entitled to either $25 cash or a $50 credit at the Apple Store. Owners of third-generation iPods are entitled to a free replacement battery if their battery fails or a $50 credit. iPod owners who already paid to have their battery replaced can get up to half of that cost back from Apple.
For the first time ever, iPods and other digital music players made the National Retail Federation’s annual list of the top toys for the holiday season.
Warner Bros. Pictures has released the first teaser trailer for “Superman Returns” in iPod video format.
Business 2.0 reports: “Navio is signing up companies like Sony BMG and Fox Music to its rights-based media distribution technology that will let them bypass Apple and and distribute through thousands of Web affiliate sites instead.”
It was announced today that Apple chief operating officer Timothy Cook will serve on the board of directors of Nike.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced a new version of its PodFolio for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The iPod case is made from hand-stitched leather and features a padded protective flip cover with an inside pocket for storing an ID or business cards, a leather-covered sewn-in belt clip, and access to all controls. The DLO PodFolio sells for $30 and is available immediately.
New Podcast: iLounge Week in Review Special Edition - Panel Discussion on iPod, from Tech Toy to Icon
Now available is the nineteenth iLounge podcast - a Special Edition, recorded at the Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference. For more details, click on Read More below.
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eEye Digital Security has issued a warning that a critical vulnerability in iTunes could allow attackers to remotely take over a user’s computer. The security firm said the flaw runs on on all operating systems from Windows XP to Mac OS X.
“This flaw allows malicious hackers to launch arbitrary code remotely, which in turn can take control of a user’s computer,” reports CNET News.com. “eEye, meanwhile, does not provide extensive details on the flaws it finds until a vendor releases a patch to resolve the security flaw.”
New research from London-based Xtn Data reveals that Apple’s iTunes Music Store has a larger share of the UK digital music market than all of its competitors combined. Xtn’s research puts iTunes’ UK market share at 54%, while its closest rival, Napster, has just 10% of the market. The rest of the UK market was: Wippit (8%), MyCokeMusic (6%), MSN (5%), CD Wow (4%), Virigin Digital (3%), Tesco (2%), Woolworths (2%), and HMV (1%). All other digital music stores together account for 11% of the market.
Record label EMI said late Thursday that music from its upcoming copy-protected CDs will be compatible with iPods—a claim Apple quickly denied. EMI said the discs will use new digital rights management technology from Macrovision.
“Apple is nearly finished with the technical work necessary to enable consumers to transfer music from content-protected discs to their iPods,” the label said in a statement. “This is an important step for EMI and Apple, but even more so for music consumers who will soon be able to legitimately port music from protected discs they own to the iPod.”
However, Apple dismissed EMI’s claims in its own statement. “The information EMI provided regarding iTunes and iPod compatibility with Macrovision’s technology is not true and we have no idea why EMI made this statement,” Apple said.
EMI said consumers will be able to rip one copy-protected version of an album to their computer and transfer it to MP3 players like the iPod. The company said three copies of the disc can be burned to blank CDs, and each individual track can be burned to CD seven times.
Incase today announced a series of four new iPod 5G and nano cases, continuing with designs that have previously proved popular. The company’s new Leather Folio 5G ($35) inverts the traditional PDA-style case with a front lid that opens fron the bottom, sealing closed at the iPod’s top with a Velcro flap. A flat belt clip on the case enables users to open the case upside-down on their belts for easy screen and Click Wheel access. Premiering in black, the case is planned for December Apple Store availability.
The company’s separate Leather Sleeve ($30) surrounds the 5G iPod in stitched black leather, yet uses mostly clear guards that both reveal and protect its screen and Click Wheel - the Click Wheel guard offers unique edge and center button detail. A flap on the top seals closed with Velcro, while a flat belt clip on back permits easy belt mounting. Leather Sleeve will be available in December.
Incase has also unveiled three colors of Neoprene Sleeves for 5G iPod ($25), which like the company’s earlier Sleeve for iPod nano (iLounge rating: A-) use impressive plastic accents on their fronts and backs, plus clear screen and Click Wheel protectors. The same unique edge and center button details from the Leather Sleeve are included on the Neoprene version, and a flap closes at the case’s top. Black, blue, and pink versions will be available in December. Finally, the company will release new pink and blue versions of its iPod nano Neoprene Sleeve ($20) to match all of the 5G version’s colors.
Wall Street Journal tech guru Walt Mossberg lists iLounge among his favorite tech websites. “The iPod, of course, is a gadget with its own massive cult, so there are numerous blogs for iPod lovers. In my view, the best of these is iLounge,” Mossberg writes.
Apple’s iTunes Music Store is selling an exclusive version of Madonna’s new album, Confessions, in a non-stop dance mix with no gaps between tracks.
Gizmodo is giving away a 30GB fifth-generation iPod to the person who builds the best shrine to the iPod.
An Illinois company named Premier is suing Apple for patent infringement. The company alleges that Apple breached its patent numbers 6,243,725 and 6,763,345 in the iPod, iTunes and Macs.
MyPodSack has announced the BeanPod, a new iPod dock designed to look like a bean bag chair. Made from black vinyl, the BeanPod lets users sync/charge their iPod, and is currently available for the 30GB fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The folks behind the new product said they hope to soon offer different fabrics and various colors. The BeanPod is priced at $33.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has released a new research note that touches upon three topics of interest to iPod owners. Wu discusses the the possibility of a new iPod shuffle in January, the presence of minor RF interference with GSM cell phones and new iPods, and EMI making iTunes-friendly copy-protected CDs.
Wu said the iPod shuffle is due for a refresh as early as January, possibly at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. “We believe this is a key reason why Apple is adding Hynix as a third NAND flash provider in addition to Samsung and Toshiba,” Wu wrote in the report obtained by iLounge. “We are hearing of an even smaller form factor (smaller than a stick of gum) and the potential for the re-introduction of multiple colors, particularly popular among women, including black. We believe price points ($99 and $129) and storage capacities (512 MB and 1 GB) will be similar to the current offerings to minimize overlap with the iPod nano.”
The analyst also explained the RF issue that some iPod users have experienced. “We believe there may be a minor RF (radio frequency) interference problem with the new iPods in isolated cases when they are placed very near a ringing GSM cell phone,” Wu wrote. “From our checks, it appears to impact GSM and not CDMA phones and only on nanos and vPods. When a ringing GSM phone is directly in front of the click wheel, the iPod could go ‘crazy’ and its volume could fluctuate uncontrollably (reminds us of R2D2 when shot by a laser gun). We do not believe this impacts most users in everyday use. We believe this problem could be easily fixed by applying better or more foil tape inside the iPod similar to cell phones and other devices in shielding interference.”
Finally, Wu notes that EMI is planning to ship new copy-protected CDs that are compatible with iTunes. “This is a significant change from its previous stance of shipping Windows PlaysForSure DRM CDs that do not work with iTunes,” the analyst said. “We view this as a positive development and believe other labels could follow.”
“Lost” beats out “Desperate Housewives” as the most popular TV show on the iTunes Music Store, according to an ABC executive.
Two popular iPod accessories—the Belkin TuneStage and Harman Kardon Drive + Play—were honored with Innovations 2006 Design and Engineering Awards from the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Richard Suttmeier of TheStreet.com says that the fifth-generation iPod is cooling demand for the iPod nano. “Demand for the iPod nano—while still quite strong—is softening due to the stronger-than-expected demand for the video iPod,” he says.
TIME is asking readers to vote on who they think should be considered for the magazine’s “Person of the Year” award. Among the dozen choices is Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
iStyles has announced the availability of a new silicone case for the iPod nano. The $8 case is available in eight colors—black, white, blue, green, pink, red, purple, and silver—and has integrated click wheel protection. “The iStyles Silicone nano is a silicone case for the iPod nano that is made from a special silicone material that not only feels smooth and good, but also doesn’t attract dust or become sticky like normal silicone cases,” says the company. “Just touch it to feel the difference.”
Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff helped send Apple shares to an all-time high of $64.22 on Wednesday by writing in a research report that iPod demand shows no signs of letting up. The analyst also noted that Apple appears it will be able to meet increased demand for the new iPod and iPod nano this holiday quarter as evidenced by improved shipping times on the online Apple Store.
“Our channel checks with retailers and component vendors indicate that demand for iPods (both nano and video iPod) continue to remain strong and could be significantly higher than our initial assumption for the holiday season,” Neff wrote. He added that “hot” products have historically seen sequential sales growth of 75 percent to 100 percent during the holiday season. Neff now expects Apple to ship 14.1 million iPods this quarter (Q1 2006), compared with an earlier estimate of 10.4 million.
PodDater.com is a new video dating service that offers downloadable clips of potential matches formated for the video-capable iPod.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a video worth when looking for love? Or making new friends? Imagine a site that allows you to look, listen to, and watch videos of potential matches… and the best part is that you can do it on the go. PodDater is the world’s first dating/social networking site that brings together the growing popularity of the online dating space and the enormous success of the iPod. Visitors to PodDater can come to our community, become a member, identify potential matches and then download them to their iPods. All for free.”
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today introduced the DLO Action Jacket for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The cushioned neoprene case sports a built-in screen protector, a removable belt clip and a slim armband. The DLO Action Jacket is available immediately in four different colors—red, blue, black and grey. The case sells for $30.
“The DLO Action Jacket for the iPod preserves the glass finish of the iPod’s screen and front surface,” says the company. “It fully protects the iPod during any activity and may be used as an everyday case for the new video iPods. It allows hands-free mobility for owners who use the armband for sports activities like jogging, biking, hiking or working out. The sturdy belt clip offers the option of wearing the iPod on the hip or on a belt, bag, pocket, almost anywhere. And, the included workout armband fits any arm size and is easy to adjust.”
Record label EMI Group expects Apple to raise the price of popular songs and cut prices of less popular tracks on the iTunes Music Store within a year. The Wall Street Journal reports [paid sub. req.] that EMI Music CEO Alain Levy had discussed the issue with Apple CEO Steve Jobs and believes Apple will end its single 99-cent pricing.
“We are having discussions which make us believe it will happen in the next 12 months,” Levy reportedly said at a press conference in London for the company’s half-year profit results. “There is a common understanding that we will have to come to a variable pricing structure. The issue is when. There is a case for superstars to have a higher price.”