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.
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.
As 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
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.
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.
As 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]
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.”
First 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.
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
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 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.”
“Both will be mountable anywhere in the vehicle, and are united in audio goodness by the small ‘brain’ that’s the central hub for all the physical cable connections as well as a charger for the iPod,” reports Engadget. “Connection to the car’s audio system can be of the direct line-in variety if you opt to have the unit professionally installed for an extra $70 fee; otherwise you can set up the $199 adapter kit yourself and use the built-in FM radio transmitter to pump the audio signal to your can stereo.”
More images of the device can be seen at Engadget.
TEN Technology announced today that it is now shipping two new versions of its naviPro eX wireless remote control specifically designed for the iPod mini and iPod U2. The naviPro eX mini was made for the iPod mini and comes with a stylish aluminum stand, while the naviPro eX black matches the color theme of the iPod U2 Special Edition. Both sell for $49.95.
The naviPro eX remote control, which uses wireless infrared technology, features 13 buttons, including functions for navigation of playlists, albums and audiobooks, and shuffle and repeat modes (in addtion to the normal play/pause, volume, and track up/down. The original white naviPro eX is compatible with 4G iPod and iPod photo models.
Apple’s iPod shuffle was among the 148 winners in this year’s prestigious Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). It won a gold award in the consumer products category.
Apple’s stock will likely take a hit if upcoming music cell phones prove to be competitors, Barron’s newspaper said. “While some analysts believe Apple might sell 45 million iPods next year, that pales next to the 750 million or more handsets that might be sold.”
iPodStyles has kicked off a summer clearance sale, with discounts ranging from 40% to 60%. All silicone cases, sync/charge accessories, and ShuffleArts are on sale.
Cingular is considering whether to sell Motorola’s long-awaited iTunes mobile phone, according to a Reuters report on Friday. “Motorola and Apple have been talking to Cingular about it using the iTunes phone,” a source told the news agency.
In further confirmation, RBC Capital analyst Mark Sue said in a research note this week that Apple and Cingular, the No. 1 U.S. carrier, were finalizing details on revenue sharing.
Cingular and Apple representatives declined comment, while a Motorola spokeswoman said the company is on schedule to ship the first iTunes phone in the third quarter. [via Mobile Tracker]
Today, Audible announced plans to distribute the New York Times Audio Digest, Wall Street Journal and other periodic audio content via RSS. Audible customers can schedule automatic delivery of their periodic programming to their computers and to any one of more than 135 AudibleReady handheld devices, including the iPod.
Audible has also launched an information page outlining its strategy behind profitable podcasting. “Starting June 24th, you can put Audible’s management experience, platforms and tools to work for you and your podcasting strategy. Audible now offers content producers the infrastructure for circulation control, paid subscriptions and advertising management needed to effortlessly produce and manage podcasting - and turn that audio content into predictable, incremental revenue.”
iLounge recently spoke with iPodderX developer August Trometer on what impact the forthcoming iTunes 4.9 update will have on podcasting. As previously reported, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced iTunes 4.9 at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, and then later provided further details at this month’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC).
Trometer told iLounge that he was by no means surprised at the announcement. “It was inevitable that Apple would take an interest in podcasting,” he said. “After all, the more uses Apple can find for the iPod, the better for them. So when iTunes 4.9 was announced, I wasn’t too surprised.”
Trometer said that in the long run, it’s great news for both podcasting and for applications like iPodderX. “In much the same way that Safari RSS is introducing a whole new audience to syndicated newsfeeds, I think iTunes 4.9 will do the same for podcasting. But, also like Safari RSS, people will soon tire of the basic feature set and want more capabilities than iTunes offers. These folks will look elsewhere and to other applications for their podcast needs.”
After seeing Jobs give a demo of iTunes 4.9 at WWDC, Trometer said Apple, like always, has come up with a great looking and easy to use solution to a technology many have yet to embrace. “I have to admit, iTunes 4.9 looks slick,” he told iLounge. “I have a feeling that people will get tired of the way it lists their podcasts—disclosure triangles for each feed will get tiresome—but overall it looks like a great introduction to the world of podcasting.”
The results of our first Lounge Poll are in. With responses from over 2,800 Loungers, the question “What do you use your iPod for?” has now been answered.
More than 50% of responding readers said that they use the iPod only for music, but a robust 40% also use it to store data and/or photographs, too. Thanks for your responses, and be sure to check out our current Lounge Poll on the left column, right underneath Ask iLounge: “How large is your biggest iPod?”
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said on Friday that Apple “will likely not show significant upside for the iPod in the June quarter” with sales of 5.5 million units, but that the iPod business will “reaccelerate” in the seasonally strong September and December quarters.
Munster’s positive expectations are based on results from a recent survey of MP3 player sales reps at 100 U.S. retail stores (non-Apple), which on average 58% of recommended the purchase of an iPod over a competing device.
Munster said in a research note obtained by iLounge that 63% of sales reps recommend an iPod model in the 5GB or larger category, in most cases recommending the 6GB iPod mini or 20GB iPod. In the 5GB or less category, 52% of sales reps recommend an iPod (4GB iPod mini or iPod shuffle).
The analyst said that 32% of salespeople who recommend the iPod do so because of the device’s ease of use. Munster said that 21% see the “massive eco-system” of iPod accessories as the top reason to own an iPod.
Meanwhile, the top reason given by 25% of sales reps for recommending something other than an iPod was its lack of an FM receiver. Approximately 14% said its close integration with iTunes is too limiting, and an another 14% said there are some players that have a better design or are smaller than the iPod.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced that its iBoom has been lowered to $129.99 (from $149.99). The portable four-speaker sound system offers 20-watts of power and features an integrated iPod cradle, a digital FM radio, and backlit display. The iBoom runs on 6 D batteries or AC power and also has a built-in handle and auxiliary input jack.