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Apple plans after-Thanksgiving sale

Apple will once again this year host an after-Thanksgiving sale at its online and brick-and-mortar stores. The one-day event, which Apple is calling “The feast after the feast,” will take place on Friday, November 25. “Come back to the Apple Store on the day after Thanksgiving for a special one-day-only holiday shopping event,” reads a note on Apple’s website. “You’ll find dozens of great gift ideas for everyone on your list, and you’ll get free shipping on all items.” Last year’s sale saw $20 price reductions on iPods, as well as discounts on iPod accessories, iMacs, digital cameras and more.

Tune Belt releases armband for iPod nano

imageTune Belt has announced a new version of its Open View Armband for the iPod nano. The lightweight armband holds and protects the nano during activity and features a play-through clear protective cover, openings for the hold button and headphone jack, and a cord management flap. Tune Belt said the armband strap is adjustable with one hand from 8”-18”. The Open View Armband for the iPod nano is priced at $18.

Mix: Jonathan Ive, Portable Media Expo, Respect, Xbox 360

The Telegraph has an interview with Apple design guru Jonathan Ive.

Audio from several Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference keynotes are now available for download.

Apple is included in the top 10 World’s Most Respected Companies list from Price Waterhouse Coopers. Apple moved to 9th from 42nd position.

Joystiq has posted an early guide on getting your iPod to work with the new Xbox 360, which will go on sale at midnight tonight.

TVMyPod offers pre-loaded video iPods

TVMyPod is a new service that allows consumers to buy fifth-generation (video) iPods pre-loaded with the DVDs of their choice.

“With nearly 100 television shows from ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and HBO and over 100 movies, sports events and concerts to choose from, TVMyPod offers something for everyone,” says the company. “Can’t find the DVDs you want? No problem—TVMyPod will locate what you want and customize your order. Here’s how it works: Customers purchase the iPod and the DVDs of their choice; TVMyPod then converts the DVDs to iPod format and loads them onto the iPod at no extra charge. The customer receives the loaded iPod in its original packaging, along with each of the DVDs he or she purchased.”

Xitel intros HiFi-Link for iPod

imageXitel today introduced the HiFi-Link for iPod, a new docking station that connects an iPod to your home stereo or television. The HiFi-Link, which utilizes Apple’s new Universal Dock design, also comes with a wireless remote control and charges your iPod. The HiFi-Link for iPod will be available this month for $100.
“Built from the ground up for exceptional sound quality, HiFi-Link for iPod replicates the high-end outputs found on audiophile-grade equipment,” says Xitel. “By processing the cleanest possible signal from iPod’s base connector, HiFi-Link for iPod provides exceptionally pure and dynamic audio for a true high-fidelity experience. Attention to detail is apparent in the quality of gold-plated line-level RCA outputs with matching studio-grade audio cable. Through the inclusion of SRS TruBass, Xitel’s HiFi-Link for iPod also significantly enhances the lower frequencies of all music. Using advanced psychoacoustics, HiFi-Link for iPod adds back the warmth and depth that audio compression takes away.”

Speck ships SkinTight cases for 5G iPods

Speck Products today announced the availability of its new SkinTight rubberized cases for Apple’s fifth-generation iPods. The SkinTight cases come in 3-packs in two sizes (for 30 and 60GB iPods). Each $30 pack contains a clear, black and blue case, and three rubber-backed screen protectors. The cases also feature access to the hold switch and Speck’s “docking flap” to charge/sync your iPod without removing it from the case.

Apple signs flash supply agreements; ships 30 millionth iPod [updated]

Further solidifying the iPod’s future, Apple today announced that it has reached long-term agreements with Hynix, Intel, Micron, Samsung and Toshiba to secure a large supply of NAND flash memory through 2010. Apple said it will prepay a total of $1.25 billion for flash memory components during the next three months. “We want to be able to produce as many of our wildly popular iPods as the market demands,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Apple also subtly announced that it has now shipped over 30 million iPods.

Update: In a separate announcement, Intel and Micron Technology said that they will be launching a joint venture to produce NAND flash memory, with Apple prepaying $500 million to secure its place in line for the chips.

“Intel will own 49 percent of the new company, IM Flash Technologies, with the remaining controlling stake held by Micron,” reports CNET “Intel and Micron will each initially contribute $1.2 billion to building plants in Idaho, Utah and Virginia, with plans to add another $1.4 billion each over the next three years. The joint venture is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.”

Another related story notes that Samsung plans to invest about $615 million to build a new production facility to meet rising demand for its NAND flash and DRAM chips. The new plant will be based in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, and is expected to open in the first half of 2006.

TiVo adds iPod support to TiVoToGo service

TiVo on Monday is expected to announce plans to enable users of its digital video recorders to transfer television shows onto Apple’s fifth-generation (video) iPods, as well as Sony’s PlayStation Portable, with the company’s TiVoToGo service.

TiVo admitted that the process of encoding and transferring video content to the new iPod won’t be speedy. While the new software automates the synchronizing of a TiVo and iPod, users are expected to set the devices to do the transferring overnight.

“Getting TiVo to work with an iPod isn’t as simple as downloading music and videos to Apple’s device from iTunes,” reports The Wall Street Journal [paid sub. req.]. “First, a user’s TiVo records a show onto the machine’s hard drive. Then, the program is transferred over a home network to a PC, where it is translated into a video format compatible with the iPod. Next, the video must be transferred to the iPod from the PC. The whole process of getting an hour-long show onto an iPod could take more than two hours from the time a TiVo device finishes recording it.”

The TiVoToGo service, introduced in January, has allowed users to transfer recorded shows to Windows PCs and portable devices based on Microsoft’s Portable Media Center platform. With the added support for the MPEG-4 video format, the company is also adding new copy-protection measures at the same time.

Tivo said the shows recorded with the new TiVoToGo software will have digital watermarks to prevent piracy. The recorded programs will have the watermark embedded in the video file, allowing TiVo to trace and identify the origin of the recorded show.

Tivo will reportedly begin testing the new TiVoToGo software with iPod support “within the next couple of weeks,” according to the Journal, and will make the service available to all of its users in the first quarter of next year for a one-time fee, likely to be between $15 to $30.

Steve Jobs debuts iPod micro, pequeño, invisa on SNL sketch

In an obvious spoof of the frequency of new iPod announcements and the device’s increasingly smaller form factor, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was portrayed on yesterday’s Saturday Night Live introducing three new iPod models.

During the Weekend Update segment of the show, a cast member playing Jobs told Weekend Update anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler that the iPod nano and video iPod are now “both obsolete” and pulled the tiny iPod micro from his pocket, noting that it held 50,000 songs. Jobs said, however, that it would be obsolete by Thanksgiving and then introduced the even smaller iPod pequeño, which holds 1 million songs, but said it too would be obsolete by this Christmas. Jobs then proceeded to debut the iPod invisa (just the actor’s two fingers pressed together) and said it held 8 million songs and “every photograph ever taken.”

A video of the sketch can be viewed here.

iPod battery settlement appealed

The settlement to the iPod battery class-action lawsuit, which was approved by a judge in August, has been appealed. Apple reportedly said that it did not file the appeal, but declined further comment. The appeal will delay the benefits owed to eligible iPod owners.

“On October 24, 2005, a notice of appeal was filed in the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, against the approved iPod Settlement,” reads a note on the settlement’s official website. “As a result, Settlement benefits will not be provided unless and until the appeal is resolved. This could take an extended period of time (up to a year or more). Until that time, Apple’s normal policies are in effect. Please check this website periodically for updates regarding the status of the appeal.”

Under the settlement, consumers who bought first- or second-generation iPods before May 31, 2004 are entitled to either $25 cash or a $50 credit at the Apple Store. Owners of third-generation iPods are entitled to a free replacement battery if their battery fails or a $50 credit. iPod owners who already paid to have their battery replaced can get up to half of that cost back from Apple.

Mix: Top toys, Superman Returns, Navio, Nike

For the first time ever, iPods and other digital music players made the National Retail Federation’s annual list of the top toys for the holiday season.

Warner Bros. Pictures has released the first teaser trailer for “Superman Returns” in iPod video format.

Business 2.0 reports: “Navio is signing up companies like Sony BMG and Fox Music to its rights-based media distribution technology that will let them bypass Apple and and distribute through thousands of Web affiliate sites instead.”

It was announced today that Apple chief operating officer Timothy Cook will serve on the board of directors of Nike.

DLO PodFolio for 5G iPod now available

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced a new version of its PodFolio for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The iPod case is made from hand-stitched leather and features a padded protective flip cover with an inside pocket for storing an ID or business cards, a leather-covered sewn-in belt clip, and access to all controls. The DLO PodFolio sells for $30 and is available immediately.

New Podcast: iLounge Week in Review Special Edition - Panel Discussion on iPod, from Tech Toy to Icon

imageNow available is the nineteenth iLounge podcast - a Special Edition, recorded at the Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference. For more details, click on Read More below.

To download the latest podcast, Subscribe to our iTunes Podcast feed. The download will begin automatically when you subscribe. Past podcasts are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages. As always, your comments are welcomed.

iTunes security flaw reported

eEye Digital Security has issued a warning that a critical vulnerability in iTunes could allow attackers to remotely take over a user’s computer. The security firm said the flaw runs on on all operating systems from Windows XP to Mac OS X.

“This flaw allows malicious hackers to launch arbitrary code remotely, which in turn can take control of a user’s computer,” reports CNET “eEye, meanwhile, does not provide extensive details on the flaws it finds until a vendor releases a patch to resolve the security flaw.”

iTunes dominates digital music market in UK

New research from London-based Xtn Data reveals that Apple’s iTunes Music Store has a larger share of the UK digital music market than all of its competitors combined. Xtn’s research puts iTunes’ UK market share at 54%, while its closest rival, Napster, has just 10% of the market. The rest of the UK market was: Wippit (8%), MyCokeMusic (6%), MSN (5%), CD Wow (4%), Virigin Digital (3%), Tesco (2%), Woolworths (2%), and HMV (1%). All other digital music stores together account for 11% of the market.

Apple disputes EMI’s iPod compatibility claims

Record label EMI said late Thursday that music from its upcoming copy-protected CDs will be compatible with iPods—a claim Apple quickly denied. EMI said the discs will use new digital rights management technology from Macrovision.

“Apple is nearly finished with the technical work necessary to enable consumers to transfer music from content-protected discs to their iPods,” the label said in a statement. “This is an important step for EMI and Apple, but even more so for music consumers who will soon be able to legitimately port music from protected discs they own to the iPod.”

However, Apple dismissed EMI’s claims in its own statement. “The information EMI provided regarding iTunes and iPod compatibility with Macrovision’s technology is not true and we have no idea why EMI made this statement,” Apple said.

EMI said consumers will be able to rip one copy-protected version of an album to their computer and transfer it to MP3 players like the iPod. The company said three copies of the disc can be burned to blank CDs, and each individual track can be burned to CD seven times.

Incase unveils new 5G leather and neoprene cases, nano neoprene colors

imageIncase today announced a series of four new iPod 5G and nano cases, continuing with designs that have previously proved popular. The company’s new Leather Folio 5G ($35) inverts the traditional PDA-style case with a front lid that opens fron the bottom, sealing closed at the iPod’s top with a Velcro flap. A flat belt clip on the case enables users to open the case upside-down on their belts for easy screen and Click Wheel access. Premiering in black, the case is planned for December Apple Store availability.

The company’s separate Leather Sleeve ($30) surrounds the 5G iPod in stitched black leather, yet uses mostly clear guards that both reveal and protect its screen and Click Wheel - the Click Wheel guard offers unique edge and center button detail. A flap on the top seals closed with Velcro, while a flat belt clip on back permits easy belt mounting. Leather Sleeve will be available in December.

Incase has also unveiled three colors of Neoprene Sleeves for 5G iPod ($25), which like the company’s earlier Sleeve for iPod nano (iLounge rating: A-) use impressive plastic accents on their fronts and backs, plus clear screen and Click Wheel protectors. The same unique edge and center button details from the Leather Sleeve are included on the Neoprene version, and a flap closes at the case’s top. Black, blue, and pink versions will be available in December. Finally, the company will release new pink and blue versions of its iPod nano Neoprene Sleeve ($20) to match all of the 5G version’s colors.

Mix: Mossberg’s picks, Madonna mix, iPod shrine, Premier patents

Wall Street Journal tech guru Walt Mossberg lists iLounge among his favorite tech websites. “The iPod, of course, is a gadget with its own massive cult, so there are numerous blogs for iPod lovers. In my view, the best of these is iLounge,” Mossberg writes.

Apple’s iTunes Music Store is selling an exclusive version of Madonna’s new album, Confessions, in a non-stop dance mix with no gaps between tracks.

Gizmodo is giving away a 30GB fifth-generation iPod to the person who builds the best shrine to the iPod.

An Illinois company named Premier is suing Apple for patent infringement. The company alleges that Apple breached its patent numbers 6,243,725 and 6,763,345 in the iPod, iTunes and Macs.

BeanPod lets iPods kick back and relax

MyPodSack has announced the BeanPod, a new iPod dock designed to look like a bean bag chair. Made from black vinyl, the BeanPod lets users sync/charge their iPod, and is currently available for the 30GB fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The folks behind the new product said they hope to soon offer different fabrics and various colors. The BeanPod is priced at $33.

Analyst: New shuffle coming, RF interference, EMI playing nice

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has released a new research note that touches upon three topics of interest to iPod owners. Wu discusses the the possibility of a new iPod shuffle in January, the presence of minor RF interference with GSM cell phones and new iPods, and EMI making iTunes-friendly copy-protected CDs.

Wu said the iPod shuffle is due for a refresh as early as January, possibly at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. “We believe this is a key reason why Apple is adding Hynix as a third NAND flash provider in addition to Samsung and Toshiba,” Wu wrote in the report obtained by iLounge. “We are hearing of an even smaller form factor (smaller than a stick of gum) and the potential for the re-introduction of multiple colors, particularly popular among women, including black. We believe price points ($99 and $129) and storage capacities (512 MB and 1 GB) will be similar to the current offerings to minimize overlap with the iPod nano.”

The analyst also explained the RF issue that some iPod users have experienced. “We believe there may be a minor RF (radio frequency) interference problem with the new iPods in isolated cases when they are placed very near a ringing GSM cell phone,” Wu wrote. “From our checks, it appears to impact GSM and not CDMA phones and only on nanos and vPods. When a ringing GSM phone is directly in front of the click wheel, the iPod could go ‘crazy’ and its volume could fluctuate uncontrollably (reminds us of R2D2 when shot by a laser gun). We do not believe this impacts most users in everyday use. We believe this problem could be easily fixed by applying better or more foil tape inside the iPod similar to cell phones and other devices in shielding interference.”

Finally, Wu notes that EMI is planning to ship new copy-protected CDs that are compatible with iTunes. “This is a significant change from its previous stance of shipping Windows PlaysForSure DRM CDs that do not work with iTunes,” the analyst said. “We view this as a positive development and believe other labels could follow.”

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