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Mix: NECC, $105 1GB shuffle, FeedBurner, Piper Jaffray

iPods and podcasting were popular attractions in Apple’s booth at the 2005 National Educational Computing Conference in Philadelphia this week.

Following a $20 price cut yesterday, Buy.com is offering the 1GB iPod shuffle for $124.99 with free shipping. A $10 off coupon and $10 mail-in rebate brings the price down to $104.99. [via DealNews]

RSS management company FeedBurner announced today that it will soon “provide the ability to enter additional podcast description data via our SmartCast service, which we will ensure gets delivered with the appropriate RSS extensions to iTunes, Odeo, and others.”

Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster said he sees yesterday’s announcement of updated iPods as “a mild positive for Apple’s MP3 player market share” and expects “more significant iPod related announcements in the Fall-05 timeframe.”

iLounge awards ‘A’ rating to new color iPods, first since May 2003

For only the third time in iLounge’s nearly four-year history, the Editors of iLounge have awarded a flat “A” rating to an iPod—the newly introduced color fourth-generation iPod (20/60GB). Previous iPods to receive this rating were Apple’s breakthrough third-generation iPod, reviewed in May 2003, and the second-generation iPod (Mac version), reviewed in August 2002.

From our reviews of the new iPods, which are now on the site:

“It would have been easy to pass on re-reviewing Apple’s newest 20GB iPods—after all, they’re little more than cheaper, lower-capacity versions of the 30GB iPod photo released only four months ago. That simple fact has elicited groans and tears from the most devoted iLounge readers, particularly those who purchased black-and-white-screened iPods only recently.

But to view the new iPods from the perspective of existing owners would clearly miss the significance of what Apple is now offering to new potential buyers: a color-screened, photo-capable 20GB digital music player with unparalleled ease of use and the best software package on the market, all at a lower suggested retail price than any major competitor. Similarly, its bigger 60GB brother and black-bodied U2 clone are more affordable than ever before, while continuing to possess all of the key features that made them stand out at their October 2004 introductions. Owners of black-and-white-screened iPods may complain, yet there’s little doubt that they’d quickly upgrade if given the right incentive.”

Marc Jacobs unveils designer iPod cases

imageWell-known fashion designer Marc Jacobs has released a new case for the iPod and iPod mini.

The “Marc Jacobs Collection Music Holder” comes in black, cherry and aquamarine (shown) calf leather, has a suede lining, and features a polished nickel belt/bag clip and a “Marc Jacobs” nameplate. It has openings for the screen, Click Wheel and top ports.

The designer case for fourth-generation iPods sells for $175, while the iPod mini version costs $150.

Forums: iTunes 4.9, iPod reshuffle, 5G’s unwanted, Audiophile?

This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums: now that Apple has upgraded iTunes to 4.9, share your thoughts and experiences with other readers in the iTunes for Mac Forum and iTunes For Windows Forum.

With the news that the iPod lineup has been streamlined, there are many opinions on the wisdom and benefits of this move. You can register your feelings here.

While everyone is stating what they would like to see on the next generation iPod, one reader has asked a good question: “What Would You NOT Like To See on the 5G iPod?” Want Apple to keep the iPod ‘simple’? Speak up!

What is an audiophile? In this post one reader asks this very question, and will hopefully have his answer!

Apple’s Steve Jobs gives podcast interview

Jake Tapper of the ABC News Shuffle podcast has interviewed Apple CEO Steve Jobs about iTunes 4.9 and podcasting. You can download the podcast interview or read a transcript of the interview online.

When asked if podcasts will remain free, Jobs said: “Well, you know, podcasting has been free since the beginning. It’s been an emerging phenomenon that has been growing very rapidly. But we’re hoping to take it mainstream with the latest version of iTunes, which has everything you need to podcast built right in it. So podcasts, I think they’re gonna remain free. Although I do think we may start to see some advertising tagged onto them in the coming months.”

Jobs went on to discuss why podcasting is so convenient: “I think one of the most precious resources we all have these days is free time. And that’s one of the great things about an iPod is you can use it while you’re doing other stuff. So you can use it while you’re exercising. You can use it while you’re taking the subway to work, driving to work, et cetera.”

“What podcasting does is it lets me pick out those precise things I’m interested in,” Jobs said. “Whether it’s a podcast on new films that have just come out, on music, whatever. And it automatically—every time there’s a new episode of that particular show, it automatically puts it on iTunes and syncs it to my iPod. So without any work on my part whatsoever, when I’m driving to work tomorrow, the latest and greatest episodes of the podcasts that I’ve picked are right on my iPod, saving me a ton of time.”

CSFB expects iPod shuffle, iPod mini storage increase

Credit Suisse First Boston said today that it expects Apple to unveil an “iPod shuffle capacity and functionality refresh later this summer or early fall.” The firm said it also sees Apple increasing its iPod mini capacities “throughout the year.” In addition, CSFB commented on the new podcast support in iTunes 4.9, noting that it expects Apple to monetize the radio-like programming with “usage fees once adoption rates increase.”

iPod mini ‘Monsters’ released

imageThe Pixel Girl Shop has added two new novelty iPod mini cases—the Monsters. The unique cases are “cute and fuzzy” creatures with “pointy vinyl teeth” on the backside, and have an opening for the Click Wheel and a clear vinyl screen protector on the front. They have a top Velcro closure with a hole for the earphone cord and come in pink or green. The regular Monster case is priced at $30, while a slightly larger version designed so you can keep a Griffin Technology iTrip attached sells for $35.

New iPods now available; photos inside

image Bricks-and-mortar Apple Stores have started to receive their first shipments of the new 20GB color iPods introduced this morning, including the new standard 20GB iPod ($299) and 20GB U2 iPod ($329), and are selling 1GB iPod shuffles and 60GB iPods at their newly reduced prices ($129 and $399, respectively). Additionally, Apple Store employees are now wearing green promotional T-shirts touting the company’s collegiate free iPod mini (with Mac purchase) program.

Visit our iPod photo gallery for unpacking photos of the new color U2 iPod.

Mix: Free mini, iPod phone, Colgate promo, Diamond shuffle

Apple has launched a new promotion that offers students a free iPod mini with the purchase of a qualifying Mac before September 25, 2005. Alternatively, you can apply the $179 savings towards a higher priced iPod.

A hidden resource file included with iTunes 4.9 reveals several interesting dialog instructions for an “iPod Phone.”

The Colgate Max Fresh “Fresh Tracks for your Playlist” contest offers the chance to win three free downloads from the iTunes Music Store. The instant win game appears to select winners at random.

iLounger “dspiel” has posted photos of an iPod shuffle with 10 small diamonds set (not glued) in its control pad.

Apple quietly cuts 1GB iPod shuffle price

In addition to its bigger announcements of iTunes 4.9 and its new color screen iPod lineup, Apple today quietly dropped the price of the 1GB iPod shuffle to $129, from $149.

The price cut is seen as a move to boost sales and distance the device away from the lower-end iPod mini model. It is widely believed that the 1GB iPod shuffle model was not a big seller due to its close pricing to that of the $199 4GB iPod mini, despite lacking several of the mini’s features.

iPod Updater 2005-06-26 released

Apple has now released iPod Updater 2005-06-26, which includes iPod Software 1.2 for “iPod with color display,” iPod software 3.1 for iPod with Click Wheel and iPod software 1.4 for iPod mini. The company said the update contains the same software versions as iPod Updater 2005-03-23 for all other iPod models. According to the brief release notes, iPod Updater 2005-06-26 adds integration with iTunes 4.9 for downloading and listening to podcasts.

Apple simplifies iPod lineup, adds color screens to all full-size iPods

imageAs anticipated, Apple today announced that it is merging its iPod and iPod photo lines, dropping the “photo” naming and adding color screens to all full-size (white) iPod models.

The simplified lineup features a new 20GB color screen model for $299 (the same price as the older monochrome version), a 60GB model for $399 ($50 cheaper), and an updated iPod U2 Special Edition with a color screen for $329 ($20 cheaper). The company has apparently dropped the 30GB iPod photo model, which sold for $349.

Apple also said that starting today iPods will offer “an easy to use Podcast menu, including bookmarking within a Podcast and the ability to display Podcast artwork in color” to coincide with the release of iTunes 4.9.

Unsurprisingly, all of the new full-size iPod models support the photo and album artwork features of the previous iPod photo models, allowing users to view their photo libraries on the iPod’s screen or on a TV. Apple said the new 20GB iPod holds up to 20,000 photos, compared to the 60GB version which holds up to 25,000. Both can import photos from a digital camera with the optional iPod Camera Connector.

iLounge has noted Apple’s gradual shift away from using the word “photo

Apple releases iTunes 4.9, featuring podcast downloads [updated]

image As widely expected, Apple has today released iTunes 4.9 for Mac and Windows, the first version of the popular music management software to include built-in support for downloading of podcasts.

As described by the company, “With iTunes 4.9, you can now browse and subscribe to podcasts from within the iTunes Music Store. Podcasts are frequently updated radio-style shows downloadable over the Internet. You can also transfer podcasts to iPod, for listening on the go.”

Apple has also launched a “Publish Podcasts to the Music Store” information page for submitting your own podcast RSS feed for consideration.

Update: Apple has now officially announced the new version of iTunes, saying it is “taking Podcasting mainstream” by offering “everything users need to discover, subscribe, manage and listen to Podcasts.”

The company said the new Podcast Directory in iTunes 4.9 features over 3,000 free audio programs, with content from ABC News, Adam Curry, BBC, Clear Channel, The Dawn and Drew Show, Disney, Engadget, ESPN, Newsweek and NPR member stations such as KCRW in Los Angeles and WGBH in Boston.

Mix: iPod competitors, iTeufel, Jaguar, LG shuffle

In an interesting Fast Company article, several Apple rivals—Rio, Sony, Dell, iRiver, Archos, and Creative—discuss how they intend to knock the iPod from its throne.

The iTeufel is a new iPod sound system similar to the Bose Sound Dock. We are awaiting further details on specs and availability in the US.

Jaguar’s “Test Drive

Coach debuts zebra print iPod mini case

imageAs part of its new Fall lineup, designer handbag maker Coach has introduced an updated version of its iPod mini case.

The zebra print iPod mini case is covered in dyed hair calf, and features a belt clip and 12-inch strap with “dogleash clip.” The designer iPod case is priced at $98—$30 more than its standard leather iPod mini case.

“Give your iPod the look of the wild with this bold new zebra print case,” says Coach. [via Purseuing]

Analyst: MP3 market’s problems aren’t Apple’s

Creative Technology’s warning of sagging demand for its devices is no indication that the MP3 player market as a whole is suffering, a Wall Street analyst said Monday. Creative earlier today cut its fourth-quarter sales outlook and said it will have an operating loss, citing weaker-than-expected demand for its products.

“We believe that iPod’s continued dominance of the portable audio market, especially as shuffle gains market share for flash-based players, is likely having an impact on Creative,” Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “In addition to Apple’s market share gains in the flash segment, we believe the June quarter is a seasonally slow time for this market and we do not expect blow-out iPod numbers from Apple (expect iPod units of 5.5 million for June, up from 5.3 million in March). We do, however, believe that Apple will significantly benefit from back-to-school and holiday buying in the September and December quarters.”

Munster also said that his recent retail survey shows that Apple’s presence in stores remains significantly greater than Creative. “We spoke with MP3 player sales reps at 100 U.S. retail stores about what portable audio devices they recommend to customers and why,” he said. “58% of reps recommend some variation of iPod, while only 16% of salespeople would point their customer to a Creative device. We believe these checks provide another indication that Apple is holding its ground, if not gaining momentum, as the leader in portable audio.”

MusiCase for iPod combines speakers, case

imageFirst International Digital has announced the MusiCase, a new iPod accessory that combines two powered stereo speakers with a carrying case. The MusiCase features a nylon exterior, two inside mesh pockets to hold an iPod and/or an iPod shuffle, and two internal speakers (1.8” and 1.1”) powered by a built-in three-watt amplifier. It also features a belt loop and a detachable carrying strap. The $19.99 device runs off of two AA batteries, which provide approximately 15 hours of music. Though targeted at iPod users, the device is compatible with any MP3 player.

Supreme Court rules against file-sharing services

In a unanimous decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services could be held responsible if their software was intended primarily to swap music and movies illegally.

“We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement,” Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion.

Earlier today, financial research firm Piper Jaffray said that Apple’s iTunes Music Store “would be the primary beneficiary

Mix: P2P ruling, AAPL, Fast Track Studio

Piper Jaffray said today that the iTunes Music Store “would be the primary beneficiary” of a Supreme Court decision against P2P file sharing.

Shares of Apple and key suppliers for the iPod fell on Monday after Creative Technology cut its sales outlook for the current quarter and a weekend report of increased competition from music cell phones.

M-Audio today announced the Fast Track Studio Podcasting Edition ($179), which includes “everything a consumer needs to get started”—an audio interface, microphone and software.

Clickwheel puts digital comics on iPod photo

Clickwheel is a new Mac OS X application for downloading digital comics to the iPod photo. The $24.99 program uses a special RSS feed to acquire and manage the comics, which are added to the iPod photo as slideshows. Users then navigate through them normally, though some make clever use of the push across transition, with one of Demian Vogler’s comics using the first six frames to form a continuous image.

“Because comics on the iPod is a completely new field, we’ve commissioned a number of leading artists to create work for us,” the developer explained. “They’ve each been asked to produce a running series for the feed, so their work will be appearing over the coming year, with new episodes following on a regular basis. Our hope that others will get drawing, too, and before long, we’ll have a thriving community of artists, authors and podcasters creating work for the iPod photo.”

The developer said a Windows version is under development and “will be available shortly.”

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