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Mix: Dell DJ, Super Bowl ads, Comedy Central, Nano repairs

Dell has discontinued its Digital Jukebox MP3 player line. Dell will still sell the $99 flash memory-based DJ Ditty.

Google Video has a large collection of Super Bowl XL commercials, including several that are free downloads in iPod video format.

MTV Networks has been surprised that stand-up specials from its Comedy Central channel are outperforming better-known shows like “Laguna Beach” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Apple is continuing to repair damaged iPod nano displays free-of-charge and has instructed its partners to do the same, according to an AppleInsider report.

iTunes interface theft hearing this week

Attorneys for Contois Music Technology and Apple will meet at a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the progress of the iTunes interface theft case and when it will be ready for trial. Contois filed a lawsuit against Apple over the user interface of iTunes in June of last year. The company is asking a judge to end the distribution of iTunes and is seeking unspecified damages and fees. Apple denies the allegations and is seeking reimbursement of its own legal fees.

“Apple has copied the invention,” reads the lawsuit. “Apple’s infringement has been and continues to be willful.” The complaint says that Contois showed its music software at industry trade shows in 1995 and 1996 in Nevada and California, and charges that Apple’s “current or future employees” viewed the software at those trade shows and later duplicated it. Contois filed for a patent on its software in 1996 and was granted the application in 1999.

Mix: iPod etiquette, Grand Prix, iWarship, CBS shows

USA Today has posted an article on iPod office etiquette, offering tips for listening to your iPod at work.

Apple’s iTunes Music Store won the “Grand Prix

The iPod ecosystem by the numbers

The New York Times takes a look at the iPod accessory market today and provides a product breakdown and interesting dollar figures. The overall iPod add-on market is a $1 billion business, and for ever $3 spent on an iPod, at least $1 is spent on an accessory. Citing an NPD analyst, The Times says sales of iPod accessories totaled $850 million last year, not counting online sales.

The paper also claims that about 28 percent of all accessories are cases, about 30 percent of sales are for car chargers or FM transmitters and the remainder are speakers and docking stations. Retailer margins for electronic iPod products are reportedly around 25 percent, while cases offer 50 percent margins.

TuneCore offers indie artists direct access to iTMS

TuneCore is a new service that provides independent artists an easy way to sell their tracks on the iTunes Music Store and RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service. The company promises 100% of the money that the stores pay—without a contract or losing any rights or ownership to the music. TuneCore allows artists to upload their music via its website or mail a CD to them. The company charges a one-time deliver fee of 99-cents per song on each album, and a yearly maintenance and storage fee of $7.98 per album.

“TuneCore is a music delivery and distribution service that gets music you created (even cover versions) up for sale on iTunes and Rhapsody without asking for your rights or taking any money from the sale or use of your music,” explains the company. “You get 100% of what iTunes and Rhapsody pay. We take nothing, all the money goes to you. You keep ALL the rights and ownership of your music and master recordings. TuneCore is non-exclusive, so you’re never locked in.”

Karl Lagerfeld to release fashion show on iTunes

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld will release a video podcast of his fall/winter ‘06 line through iTunes following the close of New York Fashion Week on Friday, February 10.

“The runway show will be taped in HD and edited on-site using Final Cut Pro editing software with Motion-based graphics added in a near real-time process,” explains the Lagerfeld fashion house. “This innovative process allows for not only HD output used at the event, but also for video podcasting of the show, which will be available for download via iTunes that evening. This will be the first time a designer has brought fashion and technology together in this revolutionary way.”

Lagerfeld is known as an excessive iPod fan with a collection of more than 70 various iPod models as of 2004.

NewerTech Polish Kit restores scratched iPods

imageNewer Technology has introduced the NewerTech Clean and Polish Kit, which is designed to remove scratches and restore color to used iPods, iBooks, and other plastic computer components. The $18 kit includes a Heavy Scratch Remover solution, Fine Scratch Remover solution, and Plastic Clean and Shine protection polish. A polishing cloth and step-by-step instructions are also included.

“The NewerTech Clean and Polish Kit utilizes advanced chemistry bonds to remove heavy scratches, abrasions, fine marks and delicate cuts from virtually all plastics and acrylic surfaces without unsightly filling,” says the company. “The scratch remover elements also restore faded and discolored plastic. A state-of-the-art, Level 3 plastic polish leaves a lustrous shine that resists fogging, repels dust, resists fingerprint marks, and eliminates static.”

Apple sued by iPod user over hearing loss

A disgruntled iPod owner has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming the device causes hearing loss and that the company does not properly warn users of this danger. iPods are “inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss,” according to the complaint, which was filed yesterday on behalf of John Kiel Patterson in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California.

The suit, which seeks class action status, demands compensation for unspecified plaintiffs’ damages and upgrades to make iPods safer to use. According to the complaint, iPods can produce sounds of more than 115 decibels, which can damage the hearing of a person exposed for more than 28 seconds per day. Apple ships a warning with each iPod that states “permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume.”

iPodResQ offers iPod nano battery upgrade service

iPodResQ today announced that it is now offering an iPod nano high-capacity battery upgrade service. The company said it will install a new battery that offers an approximate 10% increase in play time for $64. The service includes a custom “iBox

Mix: Survivor, Swiss tax, Homestar Runner, Sony software

CBS announced today that it will begin selling downloadable episodes of “Survivor” directly from its website. It does not appear the videos will be iPod compatible.

Apple and other MP3 player makers are challenging a new tax on digital music players in Switzerland that could add an extra 20% to product prices.

Homestar Runner has posted five downloadable cartoons for the video iPod.

CNET News.com has an interesting article on Tim Schaaff, the former QuickTime engineer at Apple and Sony’s new head of software development.

Group: Your senator needs an iPod

IPAC, a group “dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced intellectual property policy,” has launched an initiative to buy a video iPod for every U.S. senator who works on legislation affecting technology. The iPods will come pre-loaded with public domain and Creative Commons-licensed material to help enlighten the senators to a more mainstream consumer viewpoint.

“Last week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on the ‘Broadcast Flag’ and ‘Audio Flag,’ a set of proposals by the MPAA and RIAA that would stifle innovation by giving content holders a virtual veto over new technologies and existing user rights,” IPAC states on its website.

“But Senator Stevens, the 82-year old committee chairman from Alaska, surprised the audience by announcing that his daughter had bought him an iPod, and suddenly Stevens had a much greater understanding of the many ways innovative technology can create choice for consumers. Content industry representatives at the hearing found themselves answering much tougher questions than they typically receive.”

Monster iCruze package on sale for $99

imageMonster is now selling the complete iCruze package for just $99, a fraction of what the direct-connect iPod car audio solution sold for originally. The kit includes the iCruze OEM/CD Changer Interface Module (reg. $250), the iCruze LCD Display Module (reg. $100) and necessary iCruze Interface Cables (reg. $30-$160). You’ll also get the “Monster Music: 3 Doors Down LIVE, Away From The Sun” Video SuperDisc ($25 value) with the system. Monster says the deal is available for a limited time.

Google: No plans for music store at this time

Google has denied reports that it plans to acquire Napster or launch its own digital music store. The New York Post, citing anonymous sources, claimed yesterday that Google was considering an extensive alliance with Napster or an “outright acquisition” of company. Robert Peck of Bear Stearns predicted last week that Google will launch “Google Tunes” within the next six months.

The internet search giant said the published report was untrue and that it will not roll out a music service in the foreseeable future. “We have no plans to acquire Napster, nor do we have plans to develop a music store at this time,” Google spokeswoman Sonya Boralv said in a statement. She noted that Google recently introduced a new search feature that offers users faster access to music-related information.

Mix: Ford, iTunes Germany, 1GB nano, Toyota, Flipsyde

Slate’s Seth Stevenson takes a look at the use of an iPod in Ford’s TV commercial for its Fusion sedan.

The Financial Times reports that the German iTunes Music Store is now the market-leading service in the country, selling over 15.5 million songs in 2005.

UBS Investment Research analyst Ben Reitzes is the latest to speculate that Apple will release a 1GB iPod nano.

Toyota has posted a sneak peek of its new Super Bowl commercial, entitled “Hybrid,” in iPod video format.

NBC and Apple are offering Flipsyde’s “Someday” music video featuring Winter olympic highlights for free on the iTunes Music Store.

GEAR4 intros LeatherJacket for 5G iPod, nano

imageGEAR4 today announced the LeatherJacket case for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The leather case comes in black or pink and features velvet lining, a detachable belt clip, lanyard, magnetic button closure and allows for full access to screen, click wheel and ports. The GEAR4 LeatherJacket for the 5G iPod and iPod nano sells for $35.

ESPN relents to complaints, offers TV ads for free

Following complaints from several customers, ESPN is now offering its SportsCenter TV commercials on the iTunes Music Store for free. The short ads, recently added to iTunes along with a bulk of ESPN/ABC Sports programming, were previously being sold for $1.99 each despite being advertisements for the network and most being less than 30 seconds long. Six ads were originally offered, but only three remain as free downloads.

Cingular offers Motorola SLVR phone with iTunes

imageCingular is now selling and promoting Motorola’s SLVR L7 with iTunes. The ultra-slim device, modeled after the popular RAZR phone, features a VGA camera with 4x digital zoom, video capture and playback, Bluetooth wireless, built-in stereo speakers, and mobile email and web browser. Like Motorola’s ROKR phone, the SLVR comes with a 512 MB Micro SD card and imposes a 100-song storage cap. The Quad-band GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) sells for $200 with a two-year service agreement.

Advertisers target video iPod users

Unlike TV and other traditional media, the iPod and the shows sold on the iTunes Music Store come advertisement-free. But the device won’t be devoid of ads forever. The Wall Street Journal reports that marketers are feverishly experimenting to figure out what ad content is appropriate for the iPod. [paid sub. required]

“Some companies are attaching recycled TV spots to the beginning of video files, or podcasts, that can be downloaded from popular Web sites. Others are creating new, subtler pitches to bracket shows attractive to their target audiences,” reports the Journal. “And still others are creating their own podcasts that blur the line between entertainment and advertisement in hopes of enticing people to watch the commercials for their own sake.”

Large firms are currently trying a range of different concepts. Nintendo is reusing 15-second Mario Kart DS TV commercials at the beginning of video podcasts on GrindTV.com. Anheuser-Busch is blending entertainment and advertising with its humorous Ted Ferguson Bud Light campaign, and GM’s Hummer division sponsored a GQ magazine video podcast with two 15-second spots.

The companies appear to be taking an outside-the-box approach to the iPod ads. “The content has to be unique and different,” says Marlene Coulis of Anheuser-Busch. “Advertisers have to free themselves from the 30-second ad,” a Nintendo representative said. And “It’s not about hard-sell on the iPod,” according to Liz Vanzura of GM.

XtremeMac offers TuffWrap Accent cases for 5G iPod

imageXtremeMac has announced its TuffWrap Accent cases for the fifth-generation iPod. The multi-color silicone cases feature ribbed sides, screen protector and play-through click wheel protector, and are available in three color combinations—black/red, black/yellow and blue/white. The cases will begin shipping in mid-February for $30.

“Unlike other cases that use uncontrolled color mixing or multiple layers to achieve a multi-color look, TuffWrap Accent is manufactured with two colors in distinct, contoured areas of the case,” explains XtremeMac. “With this unique design, TuffWrap Accent offers both the style and protection that iPod owners look for.”

Amazon readying full-length digital movie service

Online retailer Amazon.com reportedly plans to launch a new service this spring to sell downloadable, full-length versions of feature films. Variety reports that Amazon’s new service will likely marry downloads to DVD sales.

Customers could stream a digital version of the film for a fee and then apply that charge as a credit toward the purchase of the DVD. Another plan would let a customer buy a DVD, and while waiting for it to arrive, he could stream it over his computer.

“What they are serving up is a direct companion to the DVD,” explained one senior Hollywood executive. “Everything is being leveraged to sell more DVDs. When you go to a product page on the site, it will say all the variations about how you’d purchase that video—stream, buy or maybe a combination (of options).”

While the service will launch with at least two major studios, Amazon is currently working to convince indie studios, including Image Entertainment, Ardustry Home Entertainment and First Look Entertainment, to provide content.

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