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Apple: 600 million songs sold, biggest competitor is P2P

Following the launch of the Australian iTunes Music Store today, an Apple executive said the company has now sold more than 600 millions songs, and that illegal music downloading is the biggest competitor to iTunes.

“We have now sold over 600 million songs worldwide and have nearly 80 percent market share in most of the countries we are in,” said iTunes vice-president Eddy Cue. “This is our 21st [iTunes Music Store] and I will say that there is no place that we have ever launched where music downloads have been strong prior to us.”.

Cue said that illegal music file-sharing services such as Kazaa and BitTorrent are the closest things Apple has to a digital music competitor.

“Our view is that our biggest competitor is illegal music and P2P services,” Cue said. “We always thought that if we offered a better alternative then those customers would be happy to pay. Obviously… we will never be better than free… but we think AU$1.69 is a very competitive and fair price to pay.”

Cue also confirmed that the Sony BMG music label is missing from Apple’s iTunes Australia launch. “We are working with Sony and we know their artists would like to be a part of the launch and we hope they will join us,” he said.

InvisibleShield for 5G iPods announced

Protective Solutions has announced a new InvisibleShield for Apple’s new fifth-generation iPods. The product is a thin, transparent film covering that protects the iPod from dirt and scratches. “The InvisibleShield forms an invisible, protective barrier that won’t take away from the iPod’s design,” explains the company. “And, unlike cases, there’s no constant removing the covering, so the protection is always there.” The InvisibleShield for 5G iPods is priced at $24.95.

Mix: Motorola, iPod add-ons, Vending machines, Tokyo ads

In response to criticism that its iTunes-enabled ROKR phone holds only 100 songs, Motorola told CNN/Money that future phones may hold more songs. The company said in a statement, “Motorola has a great partnership with Apple… A whole family of music phones is on the way—some might hold more than 100-songs.”

One iLounge reader has snapped a couple photos of a prototype Kubrick holder for the iPod shuffle. “No longer content to merely clutch your iPod, these poseable Kubrick figures can now serve as the USB dock for your Shuffle. Your Shuffle slots into the top of the figure, becoming the figure’s head.”

PC Magazine has an article on the Zoom Systems airport vending machines that sell gadgets such as iPods. “Apple’s iPod has been a rather lucrative channel for Zoom Systems. The company has phased out the iPod Mini, although the Shuffle and Nano versions are currently available (forget the brutal airport mark-ups) at street price. In addition, Zoom plans to introduce the new video iPod.”

The Cult of Mac blog documents a set of Flickr photos showing a large section of iPod nano ads in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. “As part of their rather unique advertising campaign, huge iPod nano posters now adorn the platform walls of Toyoko Line Shibuya Station. As you depart the train you’ll be faced with a stream after stream of 1:1 iPod nano cutouts, in which you can pull off and take home.”

iBelieve turns iPod shuffle into crucifix

imageThe iBelieve is a replacement lanyard and USB cab for the iPod shuffle that turns the device into a crucifix. The The iBelieve is “inspired by the world’s obsession and devotion to the iPod” and is a “social commentary on the fastest growing religion in the world,” according the creators of the product. The iBelieve is priced at $12.95, and $2 from every purchase will be donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and various Children’s charities. [via Gizmodo]

iTunes Music Store launches in Australia (Updated)

imageAs expected, Apple has launched a version of its iTunes Music Store for citizens of Australia. Music is priced at AU$1.69 per song, while music videos are priced at AU$3.39. As with all non-US iTunes Music Stores, there are no TV shows available for purchase. The Australian store can currently be accessed through the drop-down country selection menu at the bottom of the iTunes Music Store.

The long-awaited Australian store was expected to debut in late April/early May alongside four new European stores, but was apparently delayed due to contract negotiations with record labels. In addition to Australian flag image icons showing up on Apple’s servers, actor/musician Russell Crowe told listeners of a radio station in the country that the store would open on April 28th of this year.

Update: According to Apple’s official press release, the Australian store will offer “most albums at $16.99 including GST,” with a total library of over one million songs and 1,000 music videos. Apple has secured exclusive tracks from artists Missy Higgins, Bernard Fanning, Paul Mac, Evermore, Gyroscope and The Dissociatives, with additional content from well-known Australian artists.

Monster’s SuperDiscs feature HD music files for iPod

Monster Music, a division of Monster Cable Products, has launched the SuperDisc, a new data disc format that features high definition music files ready to drag-and-drop to your iPod.

SuperDiscs include music files encoded directly from the master recordings in AAC (320 kbps), WMA (192 kbps), and Apple Lossless (PCM 48/16). The discs also include Dolby Headphone encoded music files which “give an iPod a surround sound music experience through any pair of headphones.” The SuperDiscs will also come with discs for stereo CD players and DVD players.

“SuperDiscs pioneer the use of advanced technologies that bring a ‘Monstrous’ gain in performance, completely redefining the ultimate entertainment experience,

Microsoft VP: We’re ready to work with Apple on Xbox 360

In an in-depth interview with IGN, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and XNA Chief Architect J Allard said that he hopes to work more closely with competing companies such as Apple when it comes to making their devices compatible with the Xbox 360.

“I’m pro consumer on this one to the end,” says Allard. “Anybody in my company who thought this was a bad idea to plug in Sony or Apple devices into this thing, I ended that conversation pretty quickly. This is the right thing to do for consumers. Once they invest $500 in their digital media library, you can’t ask them to go buy a 360 music player and a 360 digital camera, and a 360…NO! They got their stuff. They’re going to want to plug it in. We’re going to be open here, guys. And if anything, I wish we could be more cooperative with the other companies that are doing those things. And if Sony or Apple were to call me up and say, ‘Hey, we want to some special things with the 360,’ I’m on it. I think it would not be in anybody’s interest to say, we’re not going to work with 360. It’s good for them, it’s good for us, and it’s good for consumers.”

eXopod debuts aluminum iPod nano case

imageeXopod has introduced a new machined aluminum case for the iPod nano and has provided iLounge with a first look. The $39.99 case, which is held together with strong magnets like the company’s iPod shuffle case, features a plastic screen protector, foam padding, access to the hold switch, and will accommodate 90 degree headphone jacks and oversize jacks. eXopod said the case may also come with a lanyard. The company said the case in the photo is was not yet anodized because it was the first case made, and that the anodized cases will look much better with no tool marks.

iPod owners among internet’s ‘most prolific influencers’

A recent consumer study by analytics firm Intelliseek found that iPod owners are significantly more likely to create and spread consumer-generated media on the web.

According to Intelliseek’s study: “iPod users are twice as likely to have authored a blog than consumers who do not own MP3 players, and they outpace other MP3 owners on creating and posting content online. iPod users are also 2.5 times as likely to exchange text messages on cellular phones (59% vs. 24% of non-owners), three times as likely to take photos with a camera phone (45% vs. 15%), and three times as likely to download video clips and movies to a personal computer (47% versus 16%). The representative study of 660 online consumers was conducted in August, 2005.”

The consumer behavior study also finds that “iPod users are product innovators, significantly more likely to own digital video recorders, personal digital assistants, digital cameras, laptop computers and cell phones than non-iPod owners. They tend to link to the Internet via broadband and wireless connections, and are more likely than others to skip past or filter advertisements, especially online, a behavior that may be linked as much to high usability/interface expectations as it is to a dislike of advertising.”

Difusi intros new cases for 5G iPod

imageDifusi has announced two new leather cases for Apple’s new fifth-generation iPod. The videoFlip and videoValet are both made from top-grain leather and feature reinforced exterior stitching, and access to all ports and controls. Both cases are available in black, white and red leather, and come with a belt loop, a removable swivel belt clip, and an adjustable lanyard strap. Difusi said the cases will ship the second week of November for $29.95 each.

Central Park Media offers anime video for new iPod

Central Park Media has announced that it is now providing anime content for the new video-capable fifth-generation iPod.

“Visitors can now download the first episode of Central Park Media’s upcoming Armored Trooper VOTOMS as well as view the trailer for the shockingly horrific Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek, scheduled to premiere on a special pre-Halloween midnight broadcast on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, Saturday, October 29, and Hammerboy, winner of numerous prestigious awards on both sides of the Pacific.”

Central Park Media said it will soon be making available more full episodes and trailers to best-selling CPM anime including Descendants of Darkness, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Shadow Star Narutaru, among hundreds of other titles.

ColorWare to offer 5G iPods in custom colors

imageColorWare plans to offer the new fifth-generation iPod in a rainbow of custom painted colors with a scratch resistant coating. The company says the 5G iPods will be available in 23 standard colors and 460 color combinations with its “scratch resistant X2 coating.” ColorWare will sell the 30GB iPod for $365 and the 60GB model for $465. ColorWare currently sells custom painted iPod nanos and fourth-generation iPods, and also offers a service that lets you send in your iPod to have it colored in the hue of your choice for $64.

Windows: CopyPod Photo released

CopyPod Photo is a new Windows application that enables users to backup, recover and share photos on your iPod. CopyPod Photo features: full backup of your photos; saves/restores your photo albums; the ability to share photos; a drag and drop interface; and photo slideshow features. The software sells for $14.90.

Mix: ROKR flop, Stanford on iTunes, Yahoo! Search, PC Mag

American Technology Research analyst Albert Lin says that Motorola’s ROKR phone may have flopped. He estimates that as many as six times more customers are returning the phones than is normal for new handsets.

Stanford University has launched Stanford on iTunes, a custom section of the iTunes Music Store that offers Stanford-related audio content, including “downloads of faculty lectures, campus events, performances, book readings, music recorded by Stanford students and even podcasts of Stanford football games.”

The official Yahoo! Search blog has instructions on how to use the Media RSS feed from the company’s Web Services API to “easily pull in Yahoo! Video Search results as a video podcast with iTunes 6, and from there you can move them to your video iPod.”

PC Magazine gives the new iPod five out of five stars: “Video looks excellent on the new model’s 2.5-inch screen, and the thinner profile—not to mention new audio capabilities such as high-quality stereo recording—makes it more versatile than previous generations. Consider that you can now get the 30GB model for the same price as the previous-generation 20GB model, and you have a pretty impressive product.”

Slappa offers NBA iPod cases

imageSlappa has announced new iPod cases featuring officially-licensed NBA team graphics. The company’s NBA cases—which include the ShockShell and SlipScreen for the iPod mini and the Gripper for the iPod shuffle—will be available in styles for all 30 NBA teams and feature team colors and logos. According to Slappa, the cases will be available the first week of November. Pricing was not announced.

Lawyer: Apple ‘ignored obvious defects’ with iPod nano

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the law firm representing plaintiffs in the iPod nano lawsuit against Apple, has sent out a press release announcing its claims. As reported last week, Jason Tomczak and other consumers have filed a class action suit over the iPod nano’s susceptibility to scratches.

Steve Berman, lead attorney in the case, says that Apple chose to ignore a design problem with the nano before it was released and has since downplayed the complaints from owners. “We intend to prove that in an effort to rush the iPod nano to the market, Apple ignored obvious defects in the design and later tried to cover up negative responses received from consumers,” says Berman. “We seek to recover money lost in purchasing this product as well as the $25 fee Apple has chosen to impose on those who have returned their product after it became unusable.”

The press release also attempts to describe the alleged defect with the nano. “Previous versions of the iPod separated the screen and controls from the case and was covered with a thick film of resin. In designing the nano, Apple reconstructed the housing into a seamless front where the screen and controls reside directly under a much less durable film of resin allowing irreparable damage to occur.”

The announcement goes on to say that “Apple knew the nano was defective, but chose to go forward with the release and pass the cost of replacing the defective device on to class members. The suit also claims that instead of admitting to the flaw after widespread complaint, Apple concealed the defect and advised class members to purchase additional equipment to prevent the screen from scratching excessively.”

Forums: TV & Video Forum, iPod box, Music, Eminem Ad

In this week’s dip into the iLounge Discussion Forums: now that Apple have added video playback to the newest member of the iPod family, you’ll want somewhere to discuss it. So why not pay a visit to the latest addition to the iLounge forums: the TV & Videos Forum. We’re certain that as more readers receive their 5G iPods there’ll be plenty of discussion here.

With the arrival of the new 5G iPod we have completely waved goodbye to the iPod “box” - the origami-like experience of unfolding the “box” is something that new iPod users will miss. Some readers are discussing its passing in “R.I.P. iPod Box….” Will you miss its cubic charm?

Many readers will still feel that the iPod is first and foremost a music player, and will perhaps have no interest in the video playback ability of the 5G. If you are one of these users, then visit the Music Recommendation forum for some new sounds, as suggested by other iLounge readers.

First it was there, then it was gone. But now it is back again - the Eminem Ad has returned. Some readers discuss the merits of choosing Eminem to star in the 5G ad campaign. How do you feel? Should Apple have retained the anonymous dancing silhouettes or is it time to move on?

Speck unveils six new 5G iPod cases

Speck Products today announced six new cases as part of its accessory lineup for the recently introduced fifth-generation iPod. The company said the cases, which are similar to Speck’s new iPod nano cases, have been “streamlined and tailored towards iPods with video capabilities.” Speck said the cases will begin shipping in mid to late November.

imageiPod SkinTight
The SkinTight rubberized skins come in a 3-pack (black, white and blue) for $29.95. Made of shock-absorbing Kraton, the skins are available for both the 30GB and 60GB iPod and feature screen protectors.

imageiPod SeeThru   
These hard plastic cases offer a “seductive look” for your iPod and are available in three translucent colors (clear, black and red). They’re priced at $29.95 for a 3-pack.

imageiPod ToughSkin
The ToughSkin ruggedized iPod case features aggressive design and protection. Available in clear or black for $34.95, the ToughSkin includes a belt clip and screen protector.

imageiPod ArmBand
The SkinTight armband combines a “stylish, sporty look” with a soft comfort fit adjustable strap and earphone cord clips. The armband includes a SkinTight skin with screen protector. It sells for $34.95.

imageiPod Cloud FunSkin
This “fluffy cloud of protection and fun” fits both 30GB and 60GB iPods, and features a screen protector and removable belt clip. It’s priced at $34.95.

imageiPod Grass FunSkin
Speck’s other unique case has a green grass-themed design, screen protector and belt clip. The case fits both 30GB and 60GB iPods, and is also available in black. It sells for $34.95.

New Podcast: iLounge Week in Review 16

imageNow available is the sixteenth iLounge podcast, co-hosted by our Bob Levens and Jeremy Horwitz. This week’s podcast discusses the lawsuit over iPod nano scratching, brand new iPod 5G and nano cases and accessories, the impressive Vaja iVod Crystal, and of course our review of the new 5G iPods.

Past podcasts are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.

Direct download: MP3 Version
Subscribe to our Podcast feed
Subscribe to our iTunes Podcast feed
Listen to Past Podcasts

iLounge launches Konfabulator widget

imageWe’re happy to announce that in addition to the iLounge Mac OS X Dashboard widget, we now offer a downloadable widget for users of the cross-platform Konfabulator software. Like the Dashboard widget, the free Konfabulator widget provides quick access to iLounge news stories, reviews, and FAQs. The widget also lets you easily search the site or our forums.

For those of you not familiar with Konfabultor, here’s a quick summary taken from the software’s website: “Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your WiFi signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather.”

Download: iLounge Konfabulator widget for Mac
Download: iLounge Konfabulator widget for Windows

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