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Mix: Record exec, iPod weddings, Creative Technology, STINKR

Following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ remarks on iTunes pricing yesterday, an anonymous record label executive told MTV that there’s a simple explantion for Jobs wanting to keep the prices at 99 cents: “It helps him sell iPods. When he started iTunes, he broke through that psychological barrier that consumers had and made a lot of dough doing it, but it seems like he has a monopoly and he’s become the Wal-Mart of the Internet, and he wants to retain that monopoly.”

CNET has a report on the growing number of couples who are turning to iPods to handle the music at their wedding receptions. “What could be easier?” says Lori Leibovich, editor of “You bring it, you program it, it sounds great. It doesn’t surprise me at all that more people are doing it.”

Business 2.0 reports that Creative Technology plans to shift its marketing focus from its MP3 players to its PC sound card line. “Creative made lots of noise last November, when it unveiled two new MP3 players that it predicted would help it take 40 percent of the global market this year. But, analysts say, despite spending about $100 million to promote its MuVo and Zen models, the company’s market share is still around 10 percent (compared with Apple’s 70)... Tellingly, Creative has begun shifting its promotional efforts toward its new line of sound cards.” [via MDN]

In yet another bad review for the Motorola ROKR, Fortune’s Peter Lewis writes: “The most inexcusable failing of the ROKR is that for all the anticipation, many of its features do not work as advertised. Doesn’t anybody test these things before selling them to the public? The ROKR software is sluggish and clunky, and transferring songs into the ROKR’s memory is so slow—even on a dual-processor Apple Power Mac G5—that I was almost glad of the 100-song limit.”

DLO debuts HomeDock for iPod

imageFollowing its debut at Apple Expo Paris yesterday, Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has formally announced the HomeDock, a new iPod docking center that lets users play their music through their home stereo, display photo slideshows on their televisions, charge their iPod and sync it to their computer. The accessory sports RCA connectors, Composite Video, S-Video, USB 2.0 and and comes with a remote control. The DLO HomeDock is designed for the for iPod, iPod nano and iPod mini. It costs $99.99 and will be available next month.

“The HomeDock is a completely new kind of iPod accessory that creates a ‘home’ for the iPod in the living room and provides a permanent simple connection to existing Home Stereo Systems and Televisions,” says DLO. “With the HomeDock, owners can simply dock their iPod to enjoy their music and photos without the hassle of additional cables, adapters or multiple other accessories. While docked and charging, the iPod is controlled with the included 14-function Remote Control.”

Additional photographs are available in Gallery 1 from Apple Expo Paris.

H2O offers waterproof RCA cable, 4G upgrade kit

H2O Audio, maker of waterproof iPod cases, has announced a new waterproof RCA cable and case enhancement for its SV-iP4G product line. The new cable allows watersport enthusiasts to connect their iPods to any stereo system with standard RCA inputs, including most marine audio systems, outdoor stereos, and spas. The RCA cable accessory sells for $19.95. The upgrade kit for H20’s SV-iP4G case provides owners of the slightly thicker 20GB and 30GB color screen iPods with a waterproof housing and headset solution. The free modification kit lets owners of the company’s standard 4G iPod case to easily upgrade it to accommodate the color screen models.

iCueMix plug-in for iTunes released

iCueMix is a new iTunes plug-in for Windows users that delivers “personalized, mood-based mixes with a just single click.” iCueMix lets you: dynamically create a personalized mix with a single mouse click; modify a mix while you play, to build a mix for your every mood; discover new music based upon your collection, tastes and mood; share and compare your mixes with other iCueMix users; build and automatically sync personalized mixes for your iPod; and more.

“iCueMix uses artificial intelligence technology applied to your music collection to work out what songs to recommend in a mix,” explains the developer. “iCueMix has a community server that knows the music tastes of thousands of users that an iCueMix user can share and compare mixes against. It provides essential new song recommendations to complement your collection or the mix you are building. These recommendations, if required, can be purchased seamlessly via iTunes.”

Mix: iPod shipments, Burn & Return, DJ Ditty, Watchdog

Deutsche Bank has initiated coverage of Apple, forecasting that the company will ship 31 million iPod units in calendar 2005 and 43 million units in calendar 2006. “Due its strong product portfolio, market-share leadership, and the stickiness of iTunes, we believe Apple will continue to dominate this product category,” the firm said.

A four-store record shop chain in New Jersey is offering a “Buy It, Burn It, Return It” policy—customers can buy a CD, take it home and rip a copy to their computer. Within 10 days, they can return the disc for 70% store credit. “We don’t want to “butt heads with iPod owners,” said co-owner Jeff Scotti. “We have to embrace them.”

As expected, Dell has quietly launched a new flash-based device in an attempt to compete with the iPod shuffle. Its new $99 DJ Ditty comes with 512MB of storage, a tiny display and FM tuner.

iPod battery problems recently became the focus of a BBC TV investigation on UK consumer advocate show “Watchdog.” “If you bought your iPod before May last year, the in-built battery was supposed to last for up to 12 hours without the need for recharging. But for the owners of many of these older models, the music has been fading a lot more quickly,” Watchdog writes.

Altec Lansing rolls out new iPod gear

As noted first in iLounge’s Sneak Peeks special from Apple Expo, Altec Lansing has introduced a new iPod speaker system, two new sets of earphones, and two carrying cases for its inMotion iM7 speakers.

inMotion iM5
imageThis compact speaker system features four full-range micro drivers and an iPod docking station that slides in and out like a drawer at the push of a button. As a replacement for the original inMotion and inMotion Plus speakers with identical drivers, iM5 “serves up rich, full-bodied sound that fills the room,” also offers a composite video output jack, a subwoofer output connection, auxiliary input port, and comes with a deluxe carrying bag. It runs off AC or battery power (up to 24 hours of operation) and works with all dockable iPods (3G/4G/photo and iPod mini). The inMotion iM5 will be available later this month for $149.99.

inMotion iM616 and inMotion iM716
imageAltec Lansing’s first earphones are largely based on the ER-4 and ER-6 in-ear earphones from Etymotic Research. The white iM716 model offers a sound accuracy rating of 90% by comparison with ER-4 and incorporates a volume control, a bass boost switch, and improved ease of insertion into the ear. 

imageThe black iM616 has an 84% sound accuracy rating and provides the same ergonomics with increased sensitivity and a more mild bass boost. Both models come with three-flanged or soft foam ear tips, carry case with cable management, and one pair of replacement filters. The inMotion iM616 and iM716 will be available later this month for $149.99 and $199.99, respectively.

inMotion iM7 Shoulder Harness and Shoulder Pack
imageThe new carrying cases for Altec Lansing’s iM7 system offer protection and a convenient way to tote around the iPod boombox. The Shoulder Harness is made of durable leatherette material and has an open design with a storage compartment for accessories and a padded handle and shoulder strap.

imageThe Shoulder Pack is made from ballistic nylon and completely encases the iM7. It features an easy-access double-zipper and a large storage compartment for iM7 accessories, as well as a padded handle and shoulder strap.

Apple releases iTunes 5.0.1

Apple has updated iTunes to version 5.0.1 to address fairly widespread issues affecting users. According to the brief releases notes accompanying the update, version 5.0.1 “features several stability improvements over iTunes 5.” No other specific details are available at this time. iTunes 5.0.1 can be downloaded here.

Last week, Apple acknowledged the problems users were experiencing and said it would release an update to fix the issues. “Apple is aware that a limited number of customers are experiencing issues with installing iTunes 5,

Analyst: iPod nano sales skewed towards 4GB black model

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has provided further details on iPod nano sales, noting that black models are greatly outselling white models. “Our checks continue to indicate good iPod nano sales, albeit not great,” Wu said in a research noted obtained by iLounge. “Black nanos are selling well, while white nanos continue to lag. We are hearing that Apple grossly underestimated demand for the $249 black 4GB iPod nano and is realigning its supply chain to meet this demand dynamic.”

Wu said customers would look to other nano models if the 4GB black model was unavailable, and said he still believes the nano will need a capacity increase or price cut. “In the meantime, we believe some customers looking for a black 4GB iPod nano end up buying a black 2GB nano or white 4 GB nano as a compromise,” he said. “We continue to believe that iPod nano may need a storage upgrade and/or price cut to spur sales beyond black 4GB iPod nanos.”

Mix: Video devices, iPod battery, nano box, Sony-iTunes

Speaking today at Apple Expo in Paris, Steve Jobs commented on portable video devices: “Whether people want to buy a device just to watch video is not clear—so far the answer’s been no. Devices that do video… have not been successful yet. No-one’s figured out the right formula.”

Following a similar price cut in the US, Apple has lowered prices in the UK for its iPod battery replacement service to £49 from £79.

Kevin Hellhake has come up with a creative way to use his iPod nano packaging to mount his nano in his truck.

Mass Storage Synchronizer is a new “Windows-based iTunes Add-on for Sony Ericsson Walkman Phones, Sony Clie PDA and Sony Ericsson P900/P910 Smartphone

Tunewear debuts Prie Ambassador case

imageTunewear has announced the Prie Ambassador, a new leather case for the iPod nano, 4G iPod (all models including iPod photo) and iPod mini. The $50 case features a removable belt clip and a removable hook to attach it to a belt loop or strap. The Prie Ambassador also has clear vinyl windows to protect the iPod’s screen and click wheel, dual snap-button closure, and provides full access to the headphone jack and hold switch. It will be available next month in Black and Red, Black and White, and White and White designs.

PocketParty speakers for iPod nano announced

imagePodGear today announced the PocketParty for iPod nano, a new version of the company’s micro speaker system designed specifically for Apple’s latest iPod.

The system, which weighs just 38 grams, offers 1 watt of stereo output from two tiny angled speakers, comes with a removable desktop stand, and runs for up to 10 hours from a single AA battery. The PocketParty for iPod nano will be available next month for approximately $45. PodGear said it is working on complete range of accessories for the iPod nano and plans to announce new gear in the coming weeks.

“Our PocketParty products have been a huge success, allowing people to use their iPods in the park, in hotel rooms and anywhere on the go without needing bulky portable speakers. The PocketParty for iPod nano offers improved sound appreciation on its predecessors and comes complete with LED indicator light and angled speaker grills for superior stereo sound.

Apple’s Jobs warns of ‘greedy’ record companies

Apple CEO Steve Jobs today called the major music labels “greedy” for considering a hike in the price of songs on iTunes and warned that such a move would drive users back to piracy.

“If they want to raise the prices, it means that they are getting a little greedy,” Jobs told reporters before the opening of Apple Expo in Paris. “We’re trying to compete with piracy, we’re trying to pull people away from piracy and say, ‘You can buy these songs legally for a fair price,’” he said. “But if the price goes up a lot, they’ll go back to piracy. Then everybody loses.”

Meanwhile, Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, said the company was not planning to add radio features to the iPod because there was not enough demand for it.

XtremeMac intros high definition earphones

imageXtremeMac today introduced its FS1 high definition earphones, which use proprietary drivers and technologies recently developed by Future Sonics to “produce a natural tone and rich, deep bass—even at the lowest volume levels—that surpass the performance of any other earphones on the market.” The earphones are priced at $149.95 and are expected to begin shipping in November.

“The FS1 High Definition Earphones deliver richer sound than you’ve ever heard before,” says XtremeMac. “Featuring a professional-grade audio driver designed by Future Sonics, they utilize technology developed exclusively for live music performances. The technology includes a dynamic transducer that provides smoother and more consistent low frequency response, as well as a more natural overall tone.”

DLO unveils ‘distressed, casual’ leather iPod cases

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced its new Relaxed Leather iPod cases. The cases, which fit all fourth-generation iPods, come in six different designs featuring contrast stitching, brass rivets and worn leather textures. They sport a protective flip-over cover, belt clip, and an inside pocket for ID, credit cards or cash. The cases also offer access to all iPod controls and ports. The DLO Relaxed Leather iPod cases start at $34.99.

Oregon Scientific debuts iBall wireless speaker system

imageOregon Scientific has announced the iBall, a new wireless iPod speaker system that features unique sphere styling. The $300 system consists of the iBall three-speaker array and a transmitter dock that communicates wirelessly with the iBall, as well as charges the iPod, and syncs it with a computer. The two devices work up to 100 feet away.

The iBall uses advanced 2.4 GHz Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) wireless technology to “deliver the best possible sound fidelity while managing environmental wireless interference by rapidly hopping the audio signals to the next, clearest channel.” The iBall also features a built-in RF remote control, LCD display, auxiliary stereo line-in jack, S-Video, and A/V stereo line-out.

Oregon Scientific’s iBall is compatible with 3G/4G iPods, the iPod mini and iPod shuffle (seven iPod adaptors included, shuffle adaptor sold separately).

Check out iLounge’s First Looks Special on the iBall.

iLounge at Apple Expo Paris

iLounge’s Dennis Lloyd and Jeremy Horwitz are on the scene at this week’s Apple Expo in Paris, France. They will be bringing you exclusive hands-on reports of all the iPod and iTunes products being shown at the event. While Apple has stated that Steve Jobs will not be delivering a keynote speech, the CEO and other Apple executives will reportedly be on hand for a Q&A session with the media.

iSkin reveals first iPod nano case

imageiSkin has provided iLounge with a prototype rendering of its first silicone case for Apple’s iPod nano. The company said the iSkin Duo for iPod nano will be similar to the recently announced Duo case for the iPod shuffle, which features two layers of high-grade silicone protection. The new nano case will also come with an iSkin Wheel Cap click wheel protector. iSkin said it is aiming for an October-November release for the nano Duo case and is expecting to offer it for a retail price of $29.99.

Harman unveils new iPod accessories

Harman Multimedia has announced several new iPod products that it will debut this week at Apple Expo in Paris. The new accessories include the JBL On Stage II, the JBL On Tour Black, the JBL Creature II speakers in red and aluminum, “The Bridge

Incase intros Sports Case for iPod nano

imageIncase this week will announce its first accessory for the iPod nano—the Sports Case with Armband. The new case, designed for active use such as running or working out, features a neoprene sleeve for the nano, and comes with an adjustable velcro armband, neoprene hand strap, and an attachment that lets you hook it to your belt or a bag strap. It also offers complete access to all controls and has a clear screen protector. The Incase Sports Case with Armband for iPod nano will be in Apple retail stores early next month for $29.95.

Mix: iPod mini, CNET list, Joswiak, nano reaction, Pacific Rim

Following the introduction of the iPod nano, Costco has lowered the price of the 4GB iPod mini to $149.99 (from $189.99). The 6GB mini is priced at $239.99 from Costco.

CNET has ranked the original iPod its No. 1 gadget of the past 10 years. “No other product has had the incredible, loyal devotion that the iPod inspires. It’s also one of only a handful of products to get a 9 rating from CNET. It revolutionized and popularized music players with its stylish design and is still considered the industry leader. Even if you devoutly believe other music players have better features now, you have to acknowledge that iPod is still the king.”

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPod worldwide product marketing, will participate in a panel discussion during the Digital Life exhibition, which begins October 14.

“Demand for the iPod Nano has been predictably strong ever since Apple introduced the latest member of the popular iPod family on Sept. 7,” writes Benny Evangelista of the San Francisco Chronicle. “What’s unusual is the instantly emotional, fawning reaction the Nano receives almost universally, from loyal customers to skeptical technology reviewers. Experts say that kind of rare gotta-have-it reaction is the result of a calculated strategy by Apple that combines innovative design and marketing.”

Pacific Rim Technologies has cut the price of its Cube Travel Speakers by 50%. Until September 24th, the company is offering them for $19.99 using coupon code APPLEEXPO.

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