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iSkin Duo for iPod nano now available

imageiSkin has announced the availability of its iSkin Duo for the iPod nano. First shown earlier this month, the case features a dual layer shock-resistant silicone skin that “guards against bumps, scratches, dirt, and other unwanted elements, ensuring your tunes keep playing no matter where you go.”

The form-fitting protective case comes with a clear screen protector, port covers for both the dock and earphone ports, a transparent click wheel protector, and a RevoClip 2 belt clip. iSkin’s iPod Duo is available in a variety of two-tone color combinations and is priced at $29.99.

Bosco’s Pod Pouch announced

imageHutchings Software has announced Bosco’s Pod Pouch, a new lanyard case for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. “Inspired by the female kangaroo,” Bosco’s Pod Pouch has a pouch to hold the iPod and an earbud pouch to hold earbuds when not in use. The case features embroidered surfaces, lets users control their iPod without removing it from the pouch, and comes with a set of red earbuds from Jasper Unlimited. Bosco’s Pod Pouch will be available next month in black twill, black velveteen, or black polyester suede. Pricing starts at $29.95.

Creative blames Apple for flash shortage

Makers of MP3 players are facing a shortage of 1GB flash memory chips, and at least one blames Apple and Samsung for the less than ample supply that the rest of the industry is fighting for.

“One of the key challenges we face in our MP3 business is an industry-wide shortage of 1GB flash memory,” said Creative president Craig McHugh. “Industry demand for high-capacity flash memory currently outstrips supply and this will impact availability of our 1GB flash MP3 players for the holiday quarter. The shortage of flash memory, according to industry analyst speculation, is primarily a result of a special deal that Apple has secured from a key supplier for the holiday season.”

It has been reported that Samsung is selling the majority of its flash memory supply to Apple at below market cost for use in the iPod nano and iPod shuffle.

Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo said the deal is putting pressure on many smaller companies. “The MP3 market is now consolidating, but there is a shortage [of flash memory] because of the special deal we talked about,” said Sim. “The low-end [manufacturers] went out of business in the last few months because it’s very hard to face this pressure. If Creative is losing money then it’s very difficult for other companies to really fight in this battle.”

Sim said he doesn’t expect the deal to last long. “I don’t think the vendor [Samsung] is benefiting on it, so it’s really a one-sided deal,” he said. “I don’t think anybody else out there can get [similar terms]. That’s not the way the industry practices.”

Sonnet intros high-capacity battery line for iPod

Sonnet Technologies has announced a new line of high-capacity replacement batteries for first- through fourth-generation iPods and iPod minis. The new batteries offer 75% greater capacity than the original Apple batteries, according to the company. Sonnet supplies all the required tools and installation instruction videos (in English, French, German, and Japanese) on a CD-ROM. Prices range from $29.95 to $39.95.

Lego case for iPod shuffle announced

imageThe BrixPod Classic is a limited edition iPod shuffle case made of Legos. Resembling a full-size iPod, the unique case is assembled by hand from 59 Lego parts.

“The BrixPod Classic can be displayed alone but is intended for use with the iPod shuffle. By inserting the shuffle into the top of the BrixPod you get the effect of a fully functional music player constructed from Lego. The shuffle is held securely and protected inside the BrixPod. By pushing on the screen area of the BrixPod the shuffle can be paused/played. An eject slider on the back of the BrixPod allows you to remove the shuffle easily.”

300 BrixPods will be available. The first 150 units will go on sale tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. ET for $49.99 each. The second group of 150 units will be available in approximately three weeks. [via TUAW]

Apple relaxes return policy on 5G iPod, reason unclear

Following a series of complaints from consumers regarding the company’s policy on iPod nano returns, Apple appears to not be taking any chances with the new fifth-generation (video) iPod when it comes to customer satisfaction. According to a report published by AppleInsider, the company recently told Apple authorized service providers to replace new iPods that exhibit “any type of hardware failure,” including “those that would normally be classified as abuse.” For a short period of time, Apple will be “evaluating all forms of hardware failure on the recently announced fifth-generation iPod,” the company reportedly said, and will take back any fifth-generation iPod reported to have a problem. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two iLounge editors and a number of readers have reported data synchronization problems with their new iPod units, which appear to be hardware related. Problem units fail to fully transfer music libraries from a host computer, halting 500-2000 songs into the process. When replaced with new units, no synchronization problems were evident.

Mix: ROKR politics, Tribune review, iPod porn, ABC shows

Wired’s Frank Rose has written a feature article providing an inside look at the development of Motorola’s ROKR phone. “Consumers want an iPod phone that will play any song, anytime, anywhere. Just four little problems: the cell carriers, the record labels, the handset makers, and Apple itself. The inside story of why the ROKR went wrong. (And what it will take to make a truly rocking music phone.)”

Eric Benderoff of the Chicago Tribune loves the new iPod: “Apple’s mighty line of iPod digital music players has taken another remarkable evolution, this time introducing brilliant color to display music videos, TV shows and even junior’s first steps. Available this week, the new video iPod is a surprising delight to watch—and, of course, listen to. At 2 inches wide, the screen is slightly wider than on previous iPods and it sparkles in color. Videos have the clarity one would expect from a much larger screen.”

Larry Buhl of Wired News reports: “There’s a widespread notion that pornographers eagerly jump on new technology long before it goes mainstream, but with Apple’s new video-playing iPod, the adult industry is largely staying away. With a couple of exceptions, porno producers are in no hurry to provide stag movies for the iPod, thanks to fears of a public outcry and a government crackdown.”

An ABC executive said this week that the company plans to increase the number of television shows available for viewing on wireless and mobile devices early next year. “We expect our mobile video subscriber business to reach 14 million in 2009, up from about 200,000 today.” Albert Chang, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney ABC Television Group said.

Pacific Rim intros Opticover for 5G iPods

Pacific Rim Marketing has announced the iDiddy Opticover for the new fifth-generation iPod. Made from aerospace polyurethane, the covering will “protect your iPod from scratches with a tough barrier so durable that its offered in the aftermarket for use on the front of Ferraris and Porches and other high end cars to protect the paint from rocks and road rash.” The Opticover, which requires application with an included squeegee, covers both the front and back of your iPod. It is priced at $14.99.

iPREPpress offers SparkNotes study guides for iPods

iPREPpress and SparkNotes have released 11 study guides for classic American and British literature that can be downloaded and read on your iPod. The iPod study guides offer the same content as the best-selling SparkNotes study guides including “context, plot overview, summary and analysis, theme, motives, key facts and quizzes, and audio hyperlinks to context, audio plot overview and audio analysis of major characters.”

Available study guides for the iPod include: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Odyssey, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo & Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, and A Tale of Two Cities. The SparkNotes guides, which sell for $4.95 each, work with 3G/4G/5G iPods, iPod minis and iPod nanos.

Apple brings Chinese music collection to iTunes

Through a deal with international music distributor The Orchard, Apple has added thousands of Chinese tracks from 20 of China’s largest record labels to the iTunes Music Store.

“From an exclusive digital-only Jackie Chan charity track to albums from a broad and diverse selection of music from the latest Chinese Hip-Hop, Rap, Rock, Traditional and Cultural Music, The Orchard debuts this unparalleled selection of Chinese hits on the iTunes Music Store. To promote this peerless collection, The Orchard enlisted Chinese legend Jackie Chan to compile his top dozen all-time favorite tracks, which range from Mandarin Pop to Alternative & Punk to Instrumental Chinese Classical to Canto Pop. In addition, much of The Orchard’s Chinese music catalog will be included this week in an iTunes feature highlighting music of the world.”

Mix: Lugz ad, Incompatible gear, Nano suit, Steve Jobs

The New York Times looks at the controversy over Apple’s new Eminem iPod commercial, which has raised eyebrows for its similarities with a Lugz shoe commercial from 2002. “We’re very upset,” Larry Schwartz, executive vice president and principal at Lugz, told the Times. “The look and feel are awfully similar. We’re going to take all the steps we need to protect our rights.”

As noted in iLounge’s comprehensive review of the video-enabled fifth-generation iPod, the new device renders numerous iPod accessories incompatible because of its missing remote port.

Macsimum News points out that Steve Berman, the lead attorney in the iPod nano class-action lawsuit, has done some “intensive work” for Apple rival Microsoft. The website of Berman’s law firm states: “More recently, Microsoft recognized Mr. Berman’s experience and expertise when the company retained him to be part of the core national team representing the company in antitrust class actions arising from Judge Jackson’s Findings of Fact in the Department of Justice antitrust case against the company.” [via MDN]

U.S. News & World Report has named Apple CEO Steve Jobs one of America’s Best Leaders. “For the past 29 years, ever since he built the first Apple computer in a garage, Jobs has been a commercial innovator, cultural inspiration, and entrepreneurial icon. He’s an iconoclast who has enhanced our society’s digital self-image.”

PodGear unveils new products for iPod, iPod nano

UK iPod accessory maker PodGear today announced two new iPod accessories—a retractable AV cable and a new silicone case.

The PhotoBuddy retractable cable (£14.99) lets owners of the new fifth-generation (video) iPod show photos or videos through their TV. Color-screen iPod owners can used the cable to display photos only. The JumpSuit Plus (£14.99), available for the iPod nano and new video iPod, is a protective silicone case with a hard screen protector. The version for the nano comes in a 2-pack with a sports armband, while the full-size version comes with two lanyards and a click wheel cover.

PodGear said it will exhibiting the products along with its recently introduced PocketParty for iPod nano (£24.99) at MacExpo London on October 27-29. Pictures of the new cable and cases were not available.

MuffPod debuts MightyMuff lineup

imageMuffPod has announced its new MightyMuff line of iPod cases. “Made to protect iPods from scratches and drops, they feature the same extra soft polar fleece interior as all our covers but feature extremely tuff exteriors and a single or double layer of foam padding,” says MuffPod.

The company is offering three new cases. The Cordura Mighty for 3G/4G iPods is made of durable Cordura fabric and resists tears and abrasions. The Punching Mighty is constructed with the same material as punching bags, and is also available for 3G/4G iPods. The Cordura W/Strap Mighty fits the new 5G (video) iPods, iPod nanos and iPod minis, and features Cordura construction and a seat belt webbing strap. All of the cases sell for $15 each.

Poll Results: What do you think of the iPod with video?

The most recent Lounge Poll, “What do you think of the iPod with video?”, is now closed.

With over 5,100 votes cast, opinion was almost evenly split between people who said they’d buy the newest iPod, and those who said they would not or were waiting to decide. Fifty percent said that they planned to buy the new iPod, with 31% saying that it was exactly or almost exactly what they wanted, 10% saying they’d buy although videos were too low quality, and 9% saying they’d buy although the screen was too small for video. Twenty-seven percent said they would not buy, with 5% citing video quality, 12% citing screen size, and 10% citing general dissatisfaction as reasons they won’t buy one. The remaining 22% were waiting to try one, or for a review, before forming an opinion.

Complete results are available in Read More below, and at the Lounge Poll archives. Our new poll, “Have you purchased any video content from the iTunes Music Store?”, is now open. You can find it on the left column below Ask iLounge - please cast your vote!

Apple: 600 million songs sold, biggest competitor is P2P

Following the launch of the Australian iTunes Music Store today, an Apple executive said the company has now sold more than 600 millions songs, and that illegal music downloading is the biggest competitor to iTunes.

“We have now sold over 600 million songs worldwide and have nearly 80 percent market share in most of the countries we are in,” said iTunes vice-president Eddy Cue. “This is our 21st [iTunes Music Store] and I will say that there is no place that we have ever launched where music downloads have been strong prior to us.”.

Cue said that illegal music file-sharing services such as Kazaa and BitTorrent are the closest things Apple has to a digital music competitor.

“Our view is that our biggest competitor is illegal music and P2P services,” Cue said. “We always thought that if we offered a better alternative then those customers would be happy to pay. Obviously… we will never be better than free… but we think AU$1.69 is a very competitive and fair price to pay.”

Cue also confirmed that the Sony BMG music label is missing from Apple’s iTunes Australia launch. “We are working with Sony and we know their artists would like to be a part of the launch and we hope they will join us,” he said.

InvisibleShield for 5G iPods announced

Protective Solutions has announced a new InvisibleShield for Apple’s new fifth-generation iPods. The product is a thin, transparent film covering that protects the iPod from dirt and scratches. “The InvisibleShield forms an invisible, protective barrier that won’t take away from the iPod’s design,” explains the company. “And, unlike cases, there’s no constant removing the covering, so the protection is always there.” The InvisibleShield for 5G iPods is priced at $24.95.

Mix: Motorola, iPod add-ons, Vending machines, Tokyo ads

In response to criticism that its iTunes-enabled ROKR phone holds only 100 songs, Motorola told CNN/Money that future phones may hold more songs. The company said in a statement, “Motorola has a great partnership with Apple… A whole family of music phones is on the way—some might hold more than 100-songs.”

One iLounge reader has snapped a couple photos of a prototype Kubrick holder for the iPod shuffle. “No longer content to merely clutch your iPod, these poseable Kubrick figures can now serve as the USB dock for your Shuffle. Your Shuffle slots into the top of the figure, becoming the figure’s head.”

PC Magazine has an article on the Zoom Systems airport vending machines that sell gadgets such as iPods. “Apple’s iPod has been a rather lucrative channel for Zoom Systems. The company has phased out the iPod Mini, although the Shuffle and Nano versions are currently available (forget the brutal airport mark-ups) at street price. In addition, Zoom plans to introduce the new video iPod.”

The Cult of Mac blog documents a set of Flickr photos showing a large section of iPod nano ads in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. “As part of their rather unique advertising campaign, huge iPod nano posters now adorn the platform walls of Toyoko Line Shibuya Station. As you depart the train you’ll be faced with a stream after stream of 1:1 iPod nano cutouts, in which you can pull off and take home.”

iBelieve turns iPod shuffle into crucifix

imageThe iBelieve is a replacement lanyard and USB cab for the iPod shuffle that turns the device into a crucifix. The The iBelieve is “inspired by the world’s obsession and devotion to the iPod” and is a “social commentary on the fastest growing religion in the world,” according the creators of the product. The iBelieve is priced at $12.95, and $2 from every purchase will be donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and various Children’s charities. [via Gizmodo]

iTunes Music Store launches in Australia (Updated)

imageAs expected, Apple has launched a version of its iTunes Music Store for citizens of Australia. Music is priced at AU$1.69 per song, while music videos are priced at AU$3.39. As with all non-US iTunes Music Stores, there are no TV shows available for purchase. The Australian store can currently be accessed through the drop-down country selection menu at the bottom of the iTunes Music Store.

The long-awaited Australian store was expected to debut in late April/early May alongside four new European stores, but was apparently delayed due to contract negotiations with record labels. In addition to Australian flag image icons showing up on Apple’s servers, actor/musician Russell Crowe told listeners of a radio station in the country that the store would open on April 28th of this year.

Update: According to Apple’s official press release, the Australian store will offer “most albums at $16.99 including GST,” with a total library of over one million songs and 1,000 music videos. Apple has secured exclusive tracks from artists Missy Higgins, Bernard Fanning, Paul Mac, Evermore, Gyroscope and The Dissociatives, with additional content from well-known Australian artists.

Monster’s SuperDiscs feature HD music files for iPod

Monster Music, a division of Monster Cable Products, has launched the SuperDisc, a new data disc format that features high definition music files ready to drag-and-drop to your iPod.

SuperDiscs include music files encoded directly from the master recordings in AAC (320 kbps), WMA (192 kbps), and Apple Lossless (PCM 48/16). The discs also include Dolby Headphone encoded music files which “give an iPod a surround sound music experience through any pair of headphones.” The SuperDiscs will also come with discs for stereo CD players and DVD players.

“SuperDiscs pioneer the use of advanced technologies that bring a ‘Monstrous’ gain in performance, completely redefining the ultimate entertainment experience,

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