Napster today introduced a portable version of its digital music subscription service, backed by a $30 million print and broadcast ad campaign that takes aim at Apple’s iPod and iTunes Music Store. Napster’s promotion will include a Super Bowl ad, called “Do the Math,” that argues it would cost up to $10,000 to fill up an iPod, while it would only be $14.95 a month to load up an alternative player through the new Napster To Go service. The ad campaign also includes strategic alliances with companies that make rival players to the iPod—Creative, Dell and iRiver.
“Napster To Go provides infinitely greater value and is much more exciting than the iTunes pay-per-download model,” said Napster CEO Chris Gorog.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he does not believe that there is a significant number of music fans willing to pay $180 a year to subscribe to a collection of tracks that they do not permanently own. “When you rent stuff, in the end you’re left with nothing,” Jobs said.
Wired’s Leander Kahney has written a article on iPods at Microsoft. “To the growing frustration and annoyance of Microsoft’s management, Apple’s iPod is wildly popular among Microsoft’s workers.”
Apple said yesterday that it will lower iPod prices in Korea. The price drop is only for Apple’s hard-disk drive iPods and excludes the iPod shuffle.
Following its dissection of the iPod shuffle, AppleMatters has posted an article looking at the device’s file structure.
Pepsi today announced details of the four commercials it will be running during this Sunday’s Super Bowl. As previously reported, the company will air an ad for this year’s Pepsi-iTunes promotion, which kicked off on Monday. Pepsi said the iTunes ad is called “Bottle Songs” and features “a number of popular tracks from a series of music genres” and “illustrates how winning a free song from the Pepsi iTunes promotion is as easy as opening a bottle of Pepsi.” It will be shown in 30 and 45-second spots.
As part of the Pepsi-iTunes music giveaway, Pepsi is giving away 200 million free songs from the iTunes Music Store. Those who redeem a free song download will also be automatically entered in a sweepstakes to win one of 1,700 iPod minis.
iPresent It 1.1 from ZappTek is the latest version of the software that allows you to convert PowerPoint, PDF and Keynote presentations into slideshows that are synced with your iPod photo. This updates adds Keynote 2 compatibility, build support when using Keynote 2, support for high resolution presentations, and tracking of presentations to indicate which presentations need to be updated.
Enrique Quintero Design has released PodGourmet 2.0, the latest version of the iPod-based gourmet food recipe database of 260 recipes. The company has also posted PodGourmet Vegan Edition 2.0, an update to its vegan recipe database of 277 recipes. Both updates add an index in each category with links to each recipe in that category. PodGourmet and the vegan version sell for $7.50 each.
Qortico has announced the addition of two new solid wood iPod stands to its product line. The Essential iPod Stand is available in two sizes and four different hardwood species (Hard Maple, Lace Wood, Oak, and Zebra Wood). It works with all iPod models, and pricing ranges from $19.95 to $46.95. The Droplet iPod Stand is available in two sizes—the small is designed for the 3G (10/15/20GB) and 4G (20GB), and the large is designed for the 3G (30/40GB), 4G (40GB) and photo (40/60GB). Both are priced at $28.95.
In a survey of the 98 Apple retail stores across the U.S., Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said he was unable to find any iPod shuffle units available for purchase. Munster said that most Apple Stores have waiting lists for both the 512MB and 1GB models and that while the lists vary from store to store, the average waiting list is 120 customers long. The analyst also noted scarcity of Apple’s low-cost Mac mini.
“The majority of stores have no idea when they will receive product,” Munster wrote in a research note to clients obtained by iLounge. “Those stores that do have an indication of when they will receive product suggested that limited quantities of the Mac mini and iPod shuffle will be in stock within 2 weeks. Lastly, the stores generally expected to have ample supply by the end of February.”
Munster stated that “initial demand for the Mac mini and the iPod shuffle has exceeded what Apple had been expecting.” The analyst also pointed out that “virtually every Apple Store we spoke to suggested ordering the Mac mini and iPod shuffle online instead of adding our name to the waiting list.”
Tuesday’s USA Today features a cover story on the impact Apple’s iPod has had since the device was introduced in 2001. The article touches upon several general topics, including the iPod economy, cultural trends, iPod-using universities, iPod naysayers, podcasting and more.
“Apple may have introduced its innovative digital music player in 2001, but of the 10 million iPods sold to date, 8.2 million of the $249 to $399 gadgets were purchased in 2004. Nearly 5 million were bought over the holiday season alone. With its new $99 Shuffle, Apple expects the streets to soon sprout even more iPod people,” writes John Zich.
Click “Read more” to see a full-size version of the USA Today front page.
Newer Technology (NewerTech) and Other World Computing (OWC) today announced a new 87.9 FM version of the RoadTrip! FM transmitter for iPods. The 87.9 FM RoadTrip! is immediately available along with the original 107.7 FM model, for the new, lower price of $14.99. Both RoadTrip! models connect to a vehicle’s 12-volt cigarette lighter and have a 3.5-millimeter stereo jack that is compatible with all four generations of iPods, the iPod mini, and iPod Shuffle. The new 87.9 version replaces the 87.7 RoadTrip!.
CNET News.com is reporting that select Wal-Mart stores have begun selling Apple’s iPod mini. Wal-Mart is selling the device in a “limited number of stores,” a representative for the discount chain said Monday.
Apple’s iPod is currently being sold at a large number of retailers, including CompUSA, Target, Best Buy, and Circuit City. Thanks to the company’s partnership with Hewlett-Packard, the HP-branded iPod is offered in chains such as Office Depot, Radio Shack, and Staples.
This year’s Pepsi-iTunes promotion officially launched today. Apple has updated its promo site with instructions on how to play and redeem codes, official rules and a FAQ.
Ina Fried of CNET News.com has written an extensive article on the “iPod economy,” which currently includes more than 400 add-ons (not counting all the various cases).
The Financial Times reports that Apple is setting out to cement its dominance of the portable music player market with the help of iPod accessory makers.
iPodderX 2.2.7 is the latest version of the podcasting client for Mac OS X. The free update brings the ability to convert audio podcasts to Bookmarkable AAC format—great for longer podcasts. iPodderX also includes an integrated podcast directory, a viewable download history, and much more. iPodderX sells for $19.95.
The Boston Herald reports that Apple’s iTunes Music Store now has over 150 celebrity playlists, and that more and more stars are offering up their favorite songs every week.
“Celebrities usually approach iTunes, wanting to participate,” said Alex Luke, Apple’s director of music programming and label relations. “We work with them to schedule the playlists when it makes sense for everyone as their movie premieres or as their new album is released.’‘
Luke said Apple does not provide free products or music downloads to the celebrities. “No, everyone loves music and participates simply to share their favorites,” he said. “We’ve seen that everyone, celebrities included, love to play the role of DJ.”
Apple has been named the most influential brand in a poll of branding professionals thanks to its hugely popular iPod product line. Apple topped both the global and North American rankings in the survey of nearly 2,000 ad executives, brand managers and academics by Brandchannel, displacing search engine Google from last year’s top spot.
“Apple’s just done an extraordinary job with innovation, technology and design. The iPod is what has put Apple in the lead this year,” Brandchannel editor Robin Rusch said. “Sony has had less luck tying together its products as a lifestyle. From a branding perspective, they haven’t caught up with Apple’s design and ability to capture the imagination.”
Rounding out the top five were: Swedish furniture chain Ikea, premium coffee chain Starbucks, and Arabic media channel Al Jazeera.
Purchasing: The “Error -50” message appears when the user attempts to purchase a song or is in the process of downloading a purchased song. The purchase and/or downloads subsequently fail.
Previewing: The previewing issue causes many of the 30-second streaming previews offered in the Music Store to terminate prematurely after anywhere from 3 to 22 seconds. It appears that this issue is independent of the current streaming buffer size and prebuffering options offered in iTunes Preferences.
Though the reasons for the errors are unclear, the issue may have something to do with the recent upgrade to iTunes 4.7.1, which coincided with the release of the iPod shuffle. We invite users to post their experiences/problems in the comments below. Please be sure to include such information as your location and iTunes software version. Click on Read More if you need additional details.
Best Buy will soon begin selling Apple’s 512MB iPod shuffle in its 660 stores nationwide, according to the consumer electronic retailer’s online store. Best Buy brick-and-mortar stores apparently will not carry the 1GB iPod shuffle. However, both will be available on its online store. In fact, the 1GB model is in stock as of 4:00 p.m. PT. Best Buy stores have sold certain iPod models since 2002. In related news, Best Buy stores will also begin selling Apple’s low-cost Mac mini in the near future.
Former MTV veejay and podcasting pioneer Adam Curry plans to launch a podcasting network, “offering an edited selection of the web’s best dispatches and tools for neophytes to create their own casts.”
Apple’s iPod shuffle will be sold in 50 Singapore 7-Eleven stores starting next month.
In his latest PBS column, Robert X. Cringely asks if the iPod is “a razor or a blade? In other words, is Apple a hardware company or a media company?”
A Japanese iPod owner has posted photos and specifications of an impressive custom-made machined metal iPod case that he calls the “Armor plate.”
Geek Culture has posted another Joy of Tech comic relating to the iPod shuffle. In it, the artists have created a humorous new game called “iPod shuffle Roulette.”
Sony reportedly plans to launch a global music download service under its PlayStation brand to enable tracks to be downloaded directly to the PlayStation Portable.
iSkin today introduced the iSkin Wild Sides eVo2, a new version of its iPod protector featuring vibrant colors banded with white stripes that glow in the dark. Like the company’s other eVo2 cases, the Wild Sides protector is crafted from durable, form-fitting silicone. The $34.99 product includes a matching colored screen protector, removable iSkin RevoClip, and a colorful swirl-style iSkin Wheel Cap, which offers a full-coverage barrier for the Apple Click Wheel.
The Wild Sides will be available in February in three color combinations—Rebel (deep blue with white), Diva (hot pink with white) and Verve (bright green with white). The protectors will fit all fourth-generation iPods, including the iPod photo.
As part of iLounge’s iPod shuffle x3 Giveaway, we asked readers to provide their opinions of the new Apple music player in the official iPod shuffle opinion thread in iLounge’s new iPod Shuffle general discussion forum. Response has been terrific—iLounge readers have written more than 200 insightful comments about Apple’s new iPod shuffle.
The overwhelming majority praise the iPod shuffle for its price, small size, ease of use, durability, and other factors. Only a small number criticize it—mostly for its lack of screen. Be sure to check out the iPod shuffle opinion thread for all the comments and to leave your own so you’ll be entered for a chance to win an iPod shuffle for yourself.
Audio Outfitters has announced a couple more additions to its iPodez line of iPod accessories. The ezCharge iPod car charger ($18.99) includes a protective fuse, LED, and coiled cord. The ezPower iPod wall power adapter includes a multi-voltage power supply with built-in LED, and comes in three models—ezPower US for US AC sockets ($27.99), ezPower UK ($28.49) for United Kingdom sockets, and ezPower Euro ($27.99) for European sockets. The Audio Outfitters iPodez accessories work with all iPods with Dock Connector ports.