Today’s Wall Street Journal features an article [paid sub. req.] on the challenges Apple is facing from the $100 billion mobile phone industry. Apple’s digital music lead “may not last much longer,” the article says, because cell phone makers and wireless carriers are “piling into mobile music, with an array of new services and phones that could radically change a game that until now has been defined largely by Apple.”
“Despite Apple’s domination of the digital music sector the market remains in its infancy. The balance of power could tip suddenly and dramatically, especially if Apple doesn’t race to get its music technology into cell phones — an effort that’s had some hiccups. Last year, manufacturers sold an estimated seven million MP3 players in the U.S., a figure dwarfed by the roughly 80 million cell phones sold in the country.”
The article also cites a recent survey by Jupiter Research which showed that 76% of those asked said they carry a mobile phone regularly, while only 7% said the same about a music player.
Some analysts, however, believe consumers will still want devices designed for a specific purpose, and not an all-in-one gadget that does several things, but none of them great. “It’s hard to view the music phone as a direct threat to music players, any more than camera phones have put cameras out of business,” says Michael Gartenberg, director of research at Jupiter Research.
Yamaha has created a special version of its EC-02 electric scooter that features built-in stereo speakers on the sides and a docking area for a fourth-generation iPod just in front of the seat. The iPod-equipped EC-02 also features an amplifier, an extra battery, and an Apple wired remote that’s molded into a compartment on the right handlebar.
According to iLounger Kazutoshi Otani, this version of the EC-02 is just a concept and is not for sale to the public.
O’Reilly has announced the release of “iPod & iTunes: The Missing Manual, Third Edition” by New York Times tech columnist J.D. Biersdorfer. The $24.95 book is an updated version of the popular title that aims to help readers get the most out of their iPods.
“This book is one-stop shopping for iPod reference and information,” promises Biersdorfer. “It takes you on a joyride through the iPod subculture. And it guides you through all the cool musical and nonmusical things you can do with your iPod, from looking up phone numbers to checking the weather report. You’ll also find heaping helpings of the Three T’s: tips, tricks, and troubleshooting.”
Paag has introduced a new line of stylish sleeves for Dock Connector iPods (3G, 4G, photo and mini).
Paag’s offerings include: Paag Signature Quilted ($21.95 - espresso sheen with orange stitches); Chewbacca Puff ($29.95 - a furry beige sleeve); Liquid Shadow ($29.95 - black plastic); Incognito ($21.95 - gray camouflage plush); Tao Butterfly ($29.95 - pink butterflies on black silk); and Zen Citrus ($29.95 - bamboo leaves on light green silk.
Each sleeve features an earbud pocket and quilted satin lining.
Apple has added a new tutorial on the Switch section of its website to show Windows users how to use their iPod to transfer files to their new Mac.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs was named to this year’s Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people.
A recent Apple job posting reveals that the company is looking for a Graphics Software Engineer to “develop graphics and imaging frameworks for future iPod user interfaces.”
More consumers prefer a la carte pay-per-download services like Apple’s iTunes over unlimited subscription services such as Napster, according to a new study by research firm Ipsos-Insight.
Martin Fiedler has created a small utility called iPod shuffle Database Builder that allows users to drag-and-drop MP3s onto the player without having to use iTunes.
In an unusually detailed look at the music collection of a sitting President, The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller reports that the “First iPod” has become the “indispensible new exercise toy” of George W. Bush, and is “loaded with country and popular rock tunes”, “heavy on traditional country singers like George Jones, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney.” Received from his daughters as a birthday gift in July 2004, the iPod contains only 250 songs, and is used “chiefly during bike workouts to help him pump up his heartbeat, which he monitors with a wrist strap.”
Most interestingly, The Times reports that Bush “does not take the time to download the music himself;” rather, he has had his personal aide buy songs from the iTunes Music Store, and “also has an eclectic mix of songs downloaded into his iPod from Mark McKinnon, a biking buddy and his chief media strategist during the 2004 campaign.”
Update as of Saturday, April 9 at 2:09PM PST: We are aware that a significant number of our readers are experiencing formatting issues with the new homepage on different browsers, and we’re working hard to fix them. There will be a number of additional tweaks to the main page over the next 24-48 hours to further improve layout and readability, so stay tuned.
A picture of the homepage as it generally should display on your monitor can now be viewed by clicking on Read More below. If it is not displaying in this way, your browser is likely set to display fonts at an unusual size, and most layout issues can be temporarily fixed by adjusting downwards to “normal” font settings.
And yes, the navigation bar will soon be fully functional. Instead of drop-down menus, the gray bar will change contextually by section (news, articles, free music, etc) to let you jump to the preferred sub-section below.
Welcome to the new iLounge. Even though we’re still tweaking the many pages of the site, the first stage of our long-awaited redesign is finally live and ready for you to kick the tires. Our aim with the new look is to streamline every aspect of the site, making it faster and easier for you to find and read the content you want. Be sure to email us what you think of the sparkly fresh site, and inform us of any major issues caused by the redesign. If you’d rather not send an email, you can comment on this news story and we’ll be sure to read everything you say.
Also, keep in mind that this is only the first phase of the redesign — more sections will be getting a makeover in the coming weeks. You can look forward to the revamped iLounge forums, tips & tricks, gear guide, and hacks & mods sections. In addition, we’ll soon be launching the new myPod online helper, which will offer one-click access to the information and accessories that are related to your specific iPod model.
Anapod Explorer 8.7.3 from Red Chair Software is the latest version of the iPod management application with Windows Explorer integration, file backup, web streaming, and more. This update adds a manual iPod identification feature, improved ID3 tag reading, and improved connect and disconnect times.
An interesting video of a Japanese news report on the making of the iPod’s stainless steel back has been posted online.
Duke University has posted several examples of how some classes are using iPods.
Silicon.com says consumers and not legislators should decide the winner of the DRM battle.
CopyPod 6 from WindSolutions is the latest version of the Windows application that allows you to backup, copy, and transfer music from your iPod to your PC. “Ideal to make a secure backup of your iPod, move your library to your new computers or restore after a hard drive crash,” says the developer. Version 6 includes new fields such as Date Added, Last Played, Play Count and Date Modified, Audible file support, enhanced interface, and a redesigned Help Section. CopyPod sells for $19.90.
During a hearing Wednesday to discuss enforcement of digital music compatibility standards, a House panel said it does not want to force interoperability on the industry, but may have to consider actions in the future.
Lawmakers met in part because of “concerns that had been mounting about Apple’s overwhelming hold on the digital music market after the company altered its iPod and iTunes technology to prevent the playing of files downloaded from competitor RealNetworks’ Harmony system,” according to Elana Schor of the Medill News Service.
“Government intervention can probably prohibit innovation,” said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. “Consumers will choose interoperability over closed platforms” like the iPod.
Digital music subcommittee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was reportedly vocal in his skepticism of Apple’s closely guarded system, and was not happy that the company turned down an invitation to appear before his panel. “Generally speaking, companies with 75 percent market share of any business… need to step up to the plate when it comes to testifying on policy issues that impact their industry,” he said. “Failure to do so is a mistake.”
iLounge today announced a new 2005 Buyers’ Guide (Spring/Summer) contest just for those of you with blogs. The contest is simple. We’ll publicize and award prizes to three blogs that spread the word about the new Buyers’ Guide.
Our grand prize winner will be picked on straight numbers: the blog with the most referrals to our Buyers’ Guide 2005 page will win a pair of Shure E5c Earphones (valued at $500). We will also select two second place winners randomly from the pool of all blogs with 25 or more unique referrals, so virtually anyone has a chance to win. Each of these second place winners will get one set of Etymotic 6i Isolator Earphones (valued at $149). All of these prizes were donated by EarphoneSolutions.com. All you need to do is insert one of the contest badges onto your blog’s page - with the code that lets us properly count your referrals.
Duke University said today that it will continue its educational iPod program, but that not every incoming first-year student will receive one like last year. Following a preliminary review of the year-long program, Duke said the iPods will only be offered for specific courses upon the request of faculty members.
“We weren’t sure what to expect when we launched this project, but we’ve been pleased by how it’s succeeded in encouraging many faculty and students to consider new ways of using the technology in fields from engineering to foreign languages,” said Peter Lange, Duke’s provost and senior academic officer. “We’ve been focusing on iPods and other mobile computing, but our wider goal is to integrate technology broadly into the teaching and learning process. The iPods have helped jump-start this process, and we plan to keep pushing ahead.”
According to a report by Silicon Valley Watcher, Apple has entered into an agreement with UK-based Alphamosaic to produce a powerful multimedia chip that could make its way into future iPod models.
Acquired last year by leading US chipmaker Broadcom, Alphamosaic developed the VC02 chip, which has been called the world’s most advanced mobile multimedia processor. It offers support for playback of 30 frame per second, VGA-quality video, and includes the ability to capture 8-megapixel digital still images. The chip uses a “VideoCore II processing engine” that supports new video and audio standards such as H.264 and aacPlus, each likely in a portable Apple-developed multimedia device. It also “excels in high-quality 3D graphics performance with the capability to support pixel shading and volumetric lighting with low power consumption, making it ideal for use in mobile gaming applications and comparable in performance to home consoles.”
The first VC02 chip is Broadcom’s BCM2702, which offers direct NTSC and PAL video output, realtime MPEG-4 video encoding for live recording of video, and support for digital rights management. Broadcom has also developed the BCM2705, which it describes as “the lowest power multimedia processor currently available for mobile phones,” that “for the first time in the industry, provides high-end video, gaming and music capabilities to mid-range feature phones” at a price point of around $30 per chip in small quantities. The BCM2705 drops support for direct TV video output and includes less memory than the BCM2702, both decisions made to reduce price and tailor features to midrange mobile phone buyers. The specific features and pricing of any iPod-specific version of the VC02 chip are currently unknown.
Tunewear today announced the Icewear shuffle, a new high-density transparent silicone case for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The clear case features shock-absorbing ribs on the sides, which provide protection during falls and extra grip. “Compared to traditional silicone cases, the Icewear series uses the same silicone found in diving masks which allows for both scratch protection and a clear view of the iPod’s original form,” says Tunewear.
The Icewear shuffle offers complete access to the iPod shuffle’s control pad, slider switch, headphone port and USB connector. The case comes with two cap covers, one for the regular USB cap and one for the lanyard USB cap. It also includes a removable ball-bearing style chain to prevent loss of the caps. The Tunewear Icewear shuffle will be available next month for $19.95.
The iPod remains the leading digital audio player among teenagers by a significant margin in current and expected ownership of the devices, according to a new survey of 11 high schools released Wednesday.
Piper Jaffray’s bi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey found that 56% who said they own a portable music player own an iPod, compared to 40% in the Fall 2004 survey. The next closest competitor was Sony, which was chosen by 14% of device owners. The survey found that Apple also has a significant lead in expected future purchases. Of the 59% of students expecting to buy a device within the next year, 70% expect to buy an iPod. Only 15% said they expect to buy a Sony device.
For teens, the pricing “sweet spot” for digital audio players remains $100-$199, which the investment firm notes includes three iPod models — both iPod shuffles and the 4GB iPod mini.
Like the iPod, Apple’s iTunes Music Store is also rated highly by teenagers. The results of Piper Jaffray’s survey found that iTunes has “significantly higher penetration into the high school demographic than all other services,” with nearly 60% usage. The next closest online music store is Napster with 9% usage by teens surveyed.
Think you understood which digital photo peripherals worked with Apple’s iPod photo? Think again.
Updated September, 2005: We have added a collection of iPod AV cables and other accessories to the bottom of this report.
Following discussions with Belkin, maker of the Media Reader (released late 2003) and Digital Camera Link (released Spring 2004), and our review of Apple’s brand new iPod Camera Connector, iLounge can confirm the following compatibility details for all three peripherals.
Belkin Digital Camera Link: According to Belkin, there are two revisions of this accessory. iPod photo users with any version of Apple’s firmware will find that revision 1 Digital Camera Links have compatibility problems with the iPod photo and 4G iPod. Revision 2 Digital Camera Links - sold by Belkin since October 2004 - apparently do not have these compatibility problems. The difference between the two peripherals is an additional “01” mark on the rear of newer DCL units; older ones have only CE, FCC, and C-Tick marks. Below, you’ll see photos of the differences between new and old units, as well as the black dot that appears only on revision 2 boxes. Belkin adds that it has already notified customers on its web site that owners of revision 1 units with compatibility issues can contact the company’s customer service line to obtain a 4G/photo-compatible update.
Belkin Media Reader: There’s only one version of the Media Reader, but it behaves differently with the iPod photo based on the firmware (iPod Software Updater) you’ve installed. iPod photo users with version 1.0 of Apple’s firmware will find that Belkin’s Media Reader transfers photographs using a standard progress bar. But users with version 1.1 of Apple’s firmware will find that the Media Reader performs identically to Apple’s iPod Camera Connector, letting you preview photographs while transferring them, and view photographs on the iPod photo’s screen once transferred. Our updated review of the Media Reader includes updated photos and interesting notes on transfer speed differences.
Apple iPod Camera Connector: Version 1.0 of the Apple firmware will not work when you insert the Camera Connector, showing a screen reading “no card inserted” when you attempt to use the Photo Import feature. However, version 1.1 will work as described in our review.
Apple iPod AV Cable: This six-foot cable from Apple, reviewed here, allows you to connect an iPod to a television to watch photo slideshows. Apple also sells an iPod Dock with line-out audio and S-Video outputs for higher-quality AV output.
BoxWave iPod Photo AV miniSync: This cable from BoxWave, reviewed here, allows you to connect an iPod to a television to watch photo slideshows, and features a retractable 45-inch cord length.
Pacific Rim Technologies Retractable AV Cable for iPod: This 31-inch retractable cable from Pacific Rim, reviewed here, lets you connect an iPod to a television to watch photo slideshows. It is the most inexpensive such option we’ve tested.
Odeo is a startup company that aims to make podcasting easier for the millions of iPod users who want to take advantage of the new web-based broadcast medium. iLounge recently spoke with co-founder Evan Williams about the company and what exactly it will offer podcasters and listeners. Williams previously created the Blogger.com weblogging service and later sold it to Google. If his part in the blog phenomenon is any indication, podcasting is here to stay — and is set to go mainstream in a hurry.
The Odeo services are currently in beta stage and are only available by invitation. No announcement has been made on when Odeo will have its official launch for the public. Continue reading for some details of the new services and for a screenshot of the company’s website.
PalmPod 1.0 from Sappenin Technologies is a new Palm Desktop data exporter for Windows that enables you to transfer your Palm Desktop calendar, todo’s, contacts, and memos onto your iPod. “Unlike other offerings, PalmPod allows you to choose the Palm data you want exported to your iPod, both at the Palm conduit level, and on a per-category basis,” says the developer. “Now you don’t have to settle for an ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to getting your Palm data onto your iPod.” PalmPod offers support for Desktop privacy settings, and priority, category, and note/custom field support in todo’s, contacts, and datebook events.