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.
Burberry has added its line of iPod cases to its online store. Previously only available at Burberry retail stores in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Houston, the designer cases are available in two styles — signature plaid and embossed plaid. The signature style ($150) for the iPod mini comes in two models — Candy Check and Nova Check — and features leather trim. Made of Italian leather, the embossed case ($140) is available for full-size iPods and iPod minis, and comes in either white or gold.
Hitachi plans to produce hard drives containing 230 gigabits of data per square inch, which could mean 20GB iPod minis by 2007.
Engadget has an interesting interview with Motorola’s Dave Ulmer about iRadio. Ulmer says: “I really don’t see this as an iPod killer, it’s an iPod enhancer. In fact, if an iPod had Bluetooth with a little snippet of code from us, it would be able to be played on your car stereo and your home stereo and controlled on your stereo.”
Apple UK has kicked off a promotion that offers customers 30 percent off a set of Altec Lansing iMmini speakers with the purchase of an iPod mini before May 12, 2005.
In a Time article entitled “Attack of the Anti-iPods,” Tim Morrison says iPod rivals “still can’t match Apple’s ease of use. But they’re getting closer.”
From April 1 through May 31, all participants in American Red Cross blood drives in the Southern California region can fill out an entry form for a chance to win a 20GB iPod and a $100 iTunes gift certificate.
LifePod has introduced its new Urban Camouflage ModPod case for the iPod and iPod mini. The case is made of either canvas or vinyl and is available in a slew of colors and styles for $24.99. The ModPod features nylon interior lining, a silicone hinge, snap closure, and wrist strap. The iPod slides into a clear vinyl pouch that’s sewn into the back of the case. Designs include: Techno-Fleur (red or blue), Indie, Shockwave, Orange Sherbet, Blue Surf, Candy Dots (red, blue, or green), James Dean Denim, Twister (blue), Rna (green), Betty (purple), Neapolitan (pink), and Speed Racer (black). The full-size ModPod case fits both 3G and 4G iPods (20GB-60GB).
Click “Read more” for an exclusive look at a selection of the Urban Camouflage ModPod designs.
ShuffleArt has announced that its vinyl iPod shuffle skins are now available from iPodStyles.com. The skins are available in five designs — Bloody, Green, Monogram, Hawaiian Blue, and Hawaiian Pink — and are priced at $7.99 for a limited time.
“Give your new iPod shuffle a new look in seconds and protect it from abuse at the same time. All skins are repositionable - removable - reusable for a fast, easy and accurate installation and goo-free removal.”
Nearly 30 percent of U.S. consumers who own an iPod or other MP3 player have downloaded and listened to podcasts from the web, according to a new survey released this week. The Pew Internet and American Life Project said that means more than 6 million Americans are taking advantage of the new form of personal broadcasting. The survey also found that nearly half of MP3 player owners younger than 29 years old have tried podcasts, compared with 20 percent of those 29 or older.
iLounge has already released two Podcasts of its own, and plans further installments for the near future.
Bruddy Designs is now shipping the ShuffleMate, its all-in-one iPod shuffle accessory that combines the functionality of a case with clips and wire management. Made of clear plastic, the ShuffleMate fits both iPod shuffle models, has a wrap-around base to reduce excess wire, and features a built-in belt clip. The accessory also comes with an industry standard “bull-dog” clip that can be attached to any side of the ShuffleMate via mounting slots. The ShuffleMate is priced at $16.95. Bruddy offers a $3 discount with quantities of two or more.
Battery Technology, Inc. (BTI) has officially announced the Tunestir, its new three-in-one iPod FM radio receiver, transmitter, and remote control. The Tunestir, which was announced at Macworld Expo in January, is the first accessory to be released that enables users to tune in and listen to FM radio stations on their iPod. (Griffin announced the iFM receiver in 2003, but later canceled production.) The device allows users to program five favorite FM stations to listen to on their iPod, as well as five FM stations to transmit the music on their iPod to. The Tunestir is also an inline remote control with cord management features. It is compatible with all iPod models with Dock Connectors, including the 3G and 4G iPod, iPod mini, and iPod photo. The Tunestir will begin shipping later this month for $69.95.
iPod Access 2.3 from Findley Designs is the latest version of the Windows utility that enables you to copy songs from your iPod back to your computer. Version 2.3 offers improved iTunes integration and the ability to change the iTunes Scripting Engine. iPod Access for Windows is available for $14.99.
Early Friday morning, the Japanese web site of Apple Computer briefly hosted pages depicting an previously unannounced iPod peripheral called “iPotty” (JPY 104,970, approx. $1000), a beige-and-white electric toilet seat featuring an integrated iPod dock on its right side. Presumably intended only for the domestic Japanese marketplace, iPotty promises to deliver music playback and an “optional scent eliminator” to drown out embarrassing bathroom sounds and smells. Availability is listed at 1-3 weeks, indicating an imminent release.
The pages, which are no longer available online, described an Apple partnership with Japanese toilet seat manufacturer Toto, maker of Japan’s popular Apricot-badged electric toilet seats. Apricot and other Toto seats include heating elements, bidets, motion sensors for automatic lid opening and closing, and in some cases remote controls and deodorizing systems. According to the pages, iPotty will feature an optional remote control to provide easy access to the system’s bidet and other functionality.
Click Read More for a screenshot of the original Japanese main page, as well as a Babelfish-translated English version.
Griffin Technology is now shipping the AirClick Remote, its new wireless remote control solution for the iPod. The AirClick Remote allows users to control their iPod from up to 60 ft. away. Because it uses RF technology (as opposed to IR) users do not have to be in the line of sight for the device to work. The remote has five buttons (play/pause, next track, previous track, volume up, and volume down), a hold switch, and belt clip.
Each AirClick package ships with a remote, a receiver that mounts to the iPod or iPod mini, and a remote cradle and straps for attaching it to a car steering wheel or elsewhere. The AirClick, which is priced at $39.99, works with all Dock Connector iPods, including the iPod mini and the iPod photo.
Read iLounge’s exclusive review of the AirClick here.
Mercedes-Benz is testing iPod-compatible Audio Books at the New York Auto Show, which is taking place at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City until April 2. The Audio Books are designed to educate potential Mercedes buyers about a car’s features by providing digital “walk-around” audio narrations with an iPod. Consumers at the show can download the Audio Books to their own iPod for $2.95, or use loaner iPods for free. Mercedes-Benz said downloads of the Audio Books will also be available on the iTunes Music Store. The car maker has developed Audio Books — that cover everything from the engine to trunk — for the M-Class, CLS, SLK, and SLR McLaren. All proceeds from the Audio Book sales during the show will be donated to Automotive High School in Brooklyn, New York.