NBC “Today” show tech editor Corey Greenberg has admitted to charging $15,000 to Apple and other companies to talk about their products on television, reports the Washington Post. In July, Greenberg praised the iPod on the show, saying it was “a great portable musical player… the coolest-looking one.” He said, “This is the way to go.” Greenberg has also appeared several times on CNBC touting Apple products including the iPod photo.
However, Greenberg says he was never paid to promote products on national TV — only local news. “I have never accepted payment to place a product on NBC News,” Greenberg says. “I have never accepted payment to say nice things about a product in any venue.” He says companies hired him as “a spokesperson who could talk credibly and understandably about consumer products,” but that he would no longer accept payment for appearances on local news shows.
The financial relationships Greenberg and another man, Child magazine’s Technology Editor James Oppenheim, separately have with companies was first reported yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, as noted by iLounge Backstage. Further details about the dealings can be found in that article.
BusinessWeek reports that Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and Cingular will introduce new services for downloading digital music directly to mobile phones later this year, and that the first two companies have already turned down carrying the Motorola iTunes phone because of their upcoming offerings. The wireless carriers want to be able to charge customers to download songs over the air, instead of allowing them to freely transfer music from their computer to their phone.
“The two sides also have very different perspectives on how digital music stores should work,” notes BusinessWeek. “Verizon, Sprint, and Cingular are expected to charge about $2 for wireless downloads when they introduce their services, or twice the 99 cents per song on iTunes. They figure they can charge a premium for the convenience of getting songs anytime, even though customers most likely won’t be able to listen to those songs anywhere but on their phones, at least initially. One knowledgeable source close to Apple says the operators are simply being unrealistic if they expect customers to pay $2 or $3 for a song, especially with restrictions.”
The iTunes Music Store has added new exclusive tracks, including “Speed of Sound” from Coldplay’s upcoming album X&Y, and “Blue Orchid,” the first single from The White Stripes’ new album, Get Behind Me Satan.
London’s Playlist Club will hold an event on Saturday, April 23, at Progress Bar (admission free; 9:00 p.m.). In the US, April 25 sees Philadelphia’s Khyber Club open at 7:30 p.m. for a night of free entertainment, sponsored by iLounge with a selection of great prizes.
Make magazine’s Phillip Torrone has created an iPod Sock Puppet. “It had to be done,” he said.
During a press conference explaining her new deal with Sirius satellite radio, Martha Stewart claimed that her daughter listens to radio on her iPod.
UK iPod accessory maker PodGear today announced the JumpSuit Shuffle for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The “high quality super thin” silicone case enables iPod Shuffle users to protect their iPod shuffle “from everyday scrapes and scratches while not adding bulk or hiding its great looks.” It features an embossed area over the device’s control pad allowing it to be easily operated through the casing. The JumpSuit Shuffle comes in packs of two in four different color combinations for £9.99.
In a decision to focus solely on the booming iPod accessory market, XtremeMac today announced that it has sold its line of Mac server products to Gizmac, a new company headed by XtremeMac co-founder Tim Cave. Gizmac, which will not be associated with XtremeMac, assumes full control of the XrackPRO and XtroVERT products for Apple’s Xserve, and will now manufacture and market them.
XtremeMac CEO Gary Bart explained to iLounge why he elected to sell off the Mac peripheral business. “As a company we have been operating under the premise that it makes greater economic sense for XtremeMac to build iPod accessories versus pro products, consequently, the pro products have not seen continued advances and improvements from a product development standpoint,” Bart said. “This short changes the pro customers and is not in keeping with the level of dedication and support we like provide.”
Bart said the move also allows XtremeMac to dedicate its efforts to bringing out the best iPod add-ons possible. “We believe a dedicated focus, company wide, sends a clear message to our employees, customers, media, Apple and others that our product line supports our goal of being the number one iPod accessory manufacturer,” he said.
The XtremeMac CEO went on to say that the deal will benefit both founders because they each had separate visions for the company. “Additionally, Tim Cave and I had different goals for the company’s direction, and our parting ways allows us each to accomplish our individual plans,” Bart said.
Because XtremeMac now only manufactures and sells iPod products and no Mac gear, iLounge asked Bart if there will be a name change in the future. There won’t — Bart said he will continue to use the current name. “We believe we have built strong brand equity over the past three and a half years and changing now would dilute that,” he said.
Wrappers are embroidered slip-on covers for the iPod shuffle that provide surface protection and easy access to the player’s controls and ports. They’re available in more than 40 different designs with prices starting at £8.00.
“Every Wrapper is an original, hand-made, limited edition, embroidered work of art,” explains the company behind the Wrappers. “The most complex designs have over 25,000 stitches — which works out at over 400 stitches per square centimeter — with up to ten colors. This gives Wrappers a knitted, tactile feel in your hand which you’ll love after years of shiny plastic.”
DVForge said today that it has stopped production of its new JamPod electric guitar iPod accessory due to quality issues. DVForge CEO Jack Campbell told iLounge that his company created two versions of the JamPod — a cheaper version that cut corners to keep the price down, and a higher-grade version that would cost more to manufacture and sell.
“The simpler design could be sold for about $30. The more sophisticated design would have had to sell for about $50,” Campbell said. “We showed the $50 piece at Macworld Expo, and saw a surprising resistance to the price among showgoers. Based on the feedback from the show, we decided to take the less expensive version to production, we began accepting pre-orders about 3-weeks ago, and, we began shipping the product this past Thursday,” Campbell said. “We began getting comments back from many of these customers expressing concern about the sound quality and the fit and finish of the product.”
Based on the complaints from customers, Campbell said DVForge is halting production of the cheaper design and will soon offer the higher quality version for a higher price. He also said that his company would offer refunds to those unsatisfied with the JamPod.
“We decided on Sunday to simply trash the entire first production run of the JamPod, refund product and shipping costs for any dissatisfied customer, and, to take the earlier (higher performance) design to production,” Campbell told iLounge. “We will be rereleasing the JamPod in approximately 8-weeks at a retail price of $49.99. It will be the version that we showed at Macworld Expo, with the impeccable fit and finish, and the strong audio performance that our more demanding customers have requested.”
The dominance of the iTunes Music Store and the iPod has record executives questioning their relationship with Apple.
The international website for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” movie offers a trailer created specifically to be downloaded and watched on your iPod photo using the previously documented manual scrolling trick.
Victims of Washington DC-area iPod thefts said they felt the thieves got “an illicit glimpse at their musical tastes and even their souls.”
General manager of the Apple division at reseller Renaissance, Steve Ford, said that “not having an iTunes Music Store in Australia has had no impact on sales.”
iLounge reader Adrian from Germany writes to tell readers that “the packaging of the regular iPod 20GB has been changed recently. Instead of the packaging featuring images from the silhouette ads, the iPod 20GB is now packaged similarly as the updated iPod photo models (i.e. black box with silver writing). The only difference is that it lacks the ‘photo’ box and the size obviously reads ‘20GB’ instead of ‘30GB’ or ‘60GB’. The display images are also not in colour. Glad the box looks nicer again, but it’s confusing for customers.”
For pictures of the new 20GB iPod box, click on Comments above or photos below. For iLounge’s box opening gallery for the 30GB iPod photo, use this link. Thanks to Adrian for the 20GB photos!
Update: iLounge editor Jerrod H. has confirmed that black-boxed 20GB iPods still contain their predecessors’ FireWire and USB cables, as well as their AC adapters. Thanks, Jerrod.
Speck Products has unveiled a new version of its iLounge-recommended ToughSkin for the iPod mini. Like the 4G version, the Mini ToughSkin protects your iPod while offering rugged style at the same time. It features rubberized side and corner bumpers, screen and Click Wheel protection, and a detachable belt clip.
The Mini ToughSkin is available now in frosted clear and black for $34.95. Pink, blue, and green versions will be available in May.
Audi is giving away 33 free songs from the iTunes Music Store to anyone who test drives the new 2006 A3.
A photo of Onkyo’s interactive dock, which was announced in February, has been posted on the company’s Japanese website.
Filter magazine is giving away an iPod Shuffle pre-loaded with the entire catalog of The Eels, including the band’s new album and EP, B sides & rarities, and two limited edition live albums.
RealNetworks has announced that it will hold a press conference on April 26 to “unveil a groundbreaking initiative in digital music.”
Red Chair Software has released Anapod PhotoSync 1.0, a free Windows application that transfers photos from your PC to your iPod photo without using iTunes. Anapod PhotoSync offers support for JPEG photos, thumbnails, full-screen images, slideshows and TV display via the iPod A/V cable.
While Apple does not break down iPod sales per model in its earnings reports, Piper Jaffray estimates that in its first quarter of availability the iPod shuffle accounted for approximately 1.8 million of Apple’s 5.3 million iPods shipped. The firm had estimated Apple would ship 1 million iPod shuffles during the March quarter.
In a research note obtained by iLounge, Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster also comments on the iPod halo effect that has been cited in the past year as a positive force for Mac sales, and notes that he expects Apple to ship 25 million iPods in 2005 for a total of more than 35 million iPods in four years.
“Our confidence in the halo effect has increased based on Mac sales of 1.07 million units in the March quarter compared to Street expectations of about 970,000 units,” Munster said. “We believe the halo effect is the primary driver of upside to Mac units. We expect the halo effect to accelerate in 2005 as the total installed base of iPods increases from 10.3 million at the end of 2004 to an estimated 35 million by the end 2005.”
Dana Innovations, parent company of Sonance, maker of the iPort in-wall iPod interface for home music systems, has announced the formation of its new iPort division. The Sonance name will apparently not be used for its iPod products going forward.
“The new brand, which plans to capitalize on the explosive growth and market dominance of the iPod music player, will have its own development, sales, and marketing team, and will be lead by company chairman and co-founder, Scott Struthers,” Dana said in a statement. “The team plans to introduce a full line of iPort branded product in the near future.”
At the Musikmesse show in Frankfurt, Numark showed off an early prototype of an iPod DJ mixer. Little is known about what features the company aims to include in a final product, but German hip hop site WebBeatz was able to acquire a prototype rendering and a prototype photo of the actual device.
Create Digital Music reports: “In one of the photos of the actual prototype, the iPods aren’t even plugged in. Conceptually, though, the idea is interesting, and aside from allowing basic DJ mixing and crossfading, a buffer could grab audio from the audio for brief scratching. Apparently pitch control is possible, too, though limited, and it’s not clear how they might fix iPod cueing; in other words, all the normal limitations of the iPod for DJing apply. Don’t expect this to ship any time soon.”
DVForge has announced that two of its recently announced iPod products are now shipping.
JamPod ($29.99) plugs into the top of any Dock Connector iPod (3G/4G, photo and mini) and lets you play an electric guitar along with the songs on your iPod.
The Clips ($14.99) is a set of three different mounting clips for the iPod shuffle, including a belt clip, a gripper clip, and a push pin clip which snap securely onto the USB plug end of the shuffle.
During its second quarter conference call with press and analysts, Apple revealed that the iPod shuffle was the No. 1 selling flash-based MP3 player worldwide in February with 43 percent market share. The iPod shuffle is expected to be the top-selling flash player in the coming months, but NPD Techworld (which calculates the sales numbers) has not yet released reports for March.
Apple’s iTunes Music Store remains the clear leader in online music sales with a share of 70-75 percent, according to Nielsen Soundscan. The company said over 350 million songs have now been purchased and downloaded from iTunes.
In addition, Apple’s share of the worldwide hard drive-based MP3 player market stands at over 90 percent. With Apple’s quick takeover of the flash market, the company now accounts for more than 70 percent of all MP3 players sold.
Apple also said that Hewlett Packard’s share of the iPod market dropped last quarter to only 3 percent of iPod sales.
Reporting its fiscal 2005 second quarter financial results on Wednesday, Apple announced that it shipped more than 5.3 million iPods during the quarter — about 700,000 more than it shipped in the brisk holiday quarter and about 4.5 million more than it did in the year-ago quarter. The total number of iPods sold now stands at over 15 million.
Apple’s net profit for the quarter was $290 million, or 34 cents per share, on $3.24 billion in revenue. These results compare to a profit of $46 million, or 6 cents a share, last year.
“We are delighted to report a record second quarter for Apple in both revenue and earnings,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Apple is firing on all cylinders and we have some incredible new products in the pipeline for the coming year, starting with Mac OS X Tiger later this month.”
Apple said its music products accounted for 38 percent of its total revenue for the quarter. All iPod models brought in more than $1.014 billion in revenue for Apple during the quarter, an increase of 284 percent in revenue. Apple’s “Other Music Products” category, which includes the iTunes Music Store, iPod related services and accessories, accounted for $216 million of the quarter’s revenue, a 260 percent increase year-over-year.
U.S. shipments of portable MP3 players will grow 35 percent to 18.2 million units in 2005, according to a new report from JupiterResearch. “MP3 players will reach critical mass this year, fueling demand for digital music services and stores,” the firm said. Jupiter forecasts that digital audio devices will maintain an annual growth rate of over 10 percent through 2010, reaching an installed base of 56.1 million, up from 16.2 million in 2004.
“Apple shows no signs of losing momentum,” said Michael Gartenberg, VP and Research Director at JupiterResearch. “The iPod is a consumer phenomenon. Apple dominates this sector and will dominate portable MP3 player growth over the medium term,” added Gartenberg. The firm raised its near-term forecast “mostly due to the iPod’s success,” but projects that shipments of flash-based players will surpass those of hard-drive models in 2007.
Apple plans to launch a version of its iTunes Music Store in Japan by the end of the year, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, which cites Apple Japan’s representative director Yoshiaki Sakito.
“Apple previously held back from starting such operations due to problems such as the strict management of copyright ownership by Japanese record companies. But the rapid growth in the digital music market in Japan as well as a more open approach by record companies has made the move toward offering online music services possible.”