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Wal-Mart now selling iPod minis

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.

Mix: Pepsi-iTunes, iPod economy, Buy.com, Accessories

  • January 31, 2005

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).

Buy.com has the 20GB fourth-generation iPod for $279.99 when you use the online store’s $15 off coupon. Shipping is free.

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.

Mac: iPodderX 2.2.7 released

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.

Celebrities line up to get their playlists on iTunes

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 named top global brand thanks to iPod

  • January 30, 2005
  • Apple,

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.

iTunes Music Store users report errors

Several members of both the iLounge Forums and Apple Discussions websites are reporting a number of issues with the iTunes Music Store regarding both previewing and purchasing music.

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 stores to sell iPod shuffle

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.

Mix: Podcasting, Singapore, Cringely, Armor, Roulette, PSP

  • January 28, 2005

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 unveils Wild Sides iPod protectors

pic 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.

iLoungers weigh in on iPod shuffle

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 offers car, wall chargers for iPods

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.

Windows: iPod Access 2.0 released

iPod Access 2.0 from Findley Designs is the latest version of the Windows utility that enables you to copy songs from your iPod back to your Mac. Version 2.0 brings the ability to add songs directly into iTunes, Playlist Cloning support, an option to customize application window color, improved Copy Progress Status, and an updated Esellerate engine. iPod Access for Windows is available for $14.99.

Sonos Digital Music System shipping

pic Sonos today announced that its Sonos Digital Music System is now shipping. The multi-zone system features a wireless, full-color LCD controller and accesses music—MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV—from a Mac, PC or Network Attached Storage (NAS). The Sonos Digital Music System is comprised of two components: the ZonePlayer, a networked audio player that distributes, plays and amplifies music in any “zone” in the home, and the Sonos Controller, a wireless handheld device with a color screen and iPod-like touch-sensitive scroll wheel that allows the user to control the music from anywhere.

Sonos offers an introductory bundle of two Sonos ZonePlayers and a Sonos Controller for $1,199. Since the system is scalable to up to 32 zones, additional ZonePlayers retail for $499 and additional Controllers cost $399. Speakers are not included with any system.

Mix: Made for iPod, Mobile phones, iBear, iPod DJ tips

  • January 27, 2005

Following iLounge’s exclusive report earlier this month, BusinessWeek takes at look at Apple’s “Made for iPod” program.

The International Herald Tribune has an interesting article on the mobile phone industry hoping to cash in on digital music. More than 600 million cell phones will be sold in 2005, according to forecasts.

Gizmodo has found the iBear, a new iPod mini stand/holder designed to match the five colors of the music player. “The bad news is that all we have are pictures, as haven’t quite determined how to purchase them through the [Japanese] Medicom site.”

The folks behind the Playlist iPod party in the UK have put together some pointers for success at the parties from DJ Lisa Rocket.

Mac|Windows: BiblePlayer 1.5 released

BiblePlayer 1.5 is the latest version of the iPod software that enables you to read and listen to the Bible on your iPod. In addition to the King James version, BiblePlayer now includes the Modern American Standard Version and the Spanish Reina Valera. “iPod lovers can now chose from three Audio Bible translations all for the same price of $29,” notes the developer.

DLO debuts iDirect remote control for iPod

pic Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced the iDirect remote control for all iPods with Dock Connector ports. The iDirect enables you to control your iPod from across the room while keeping it connected to a home stereo or powered speaker system. The $49.99 accessory features a compact remote control (with buttons for play/pause, next, previous, and volume control) and a receiver that snaps onto the top of the iPod to capture IR remote commands. DLO said this module can also be used by itself to receive memorized commands from any existing learning remote. The DLO iDirect retails for $49.99 and is available immediately.

Spammers use iPod to deceive consumers

  • January 26, 2005
  • Other,

Consumers should be wary of spammers using the iPod brand name, according to Clearswift’s Spam Index, an in-depth industry analysis of unsolicited e-mails. Clearswift said that e-mails purporting to sell the popular digital audio player made an “unprecedented debut” during December.

“Spammers have been keen to get in on the action with one of the most sought-after Christmas gifts,” Clearswift said. “News of stock running out in December coincided with the flood of e-mails claiming to sell limited edition or heavily discounted iPods. Some e-mails even offer them for free in suspicious-looking competitions.”

Apple’s new low-cost products that were introduced earlier this month are expected to be used heavily in forthcoming spam campaigns. “With the Mac mini and iPod shuffle having launched this month, e-mail users should prepare themselves for an onslaught of lifestyle junk mail, spearheaded by an influx of Mac-inspired spam,” the company said.

AudioOutfitters offers iPod ezLink cables

Audio Outfitters has introduced two new iPod charging/syncing cables. The iPod ezLink cables work with all iPods with Dock Connector ports. The ezLink USB ($13.99) provides a USB 2.0 connection on one end and a Dock Connector on the other, while the ezLink Combo ($15.99) features the Dock Connector on one end and two cables—one with USB 2.0 and one with Firewire—on the other.

Pacific Rim intros Cube travel speakers

pic Pacific Rim Technologies today announced the immediate availability of its new Cube travel speakers. The $39.99 speakers, which can be folded when not in use, feature a cable management system and work with fourth-generation iPod, iPod photo and iPod mini models. The Cube travel speakers sport an iPod-matching white finish and run with a 6V DC Charger (included) or four AAA batteries (not included).

Apple’s U2 silhouette spot named ‘smartest ad campaign’

  • January 25, 2005
  • iPod,

pic Business 2.0 has included the U2 silhouette iPod ad campaign in its 2005 Smart List, the magazine’s “annual tip of the hat to the brightest minds in business and the miraculous feats they’ve accomplished.” The Apple-U2 creation was named the “Smartest ad campaign.”

“Thanks to a smart decision to cross-promote two well-known entertainment brands—a collaboration hatched by U2 lead singer Bono and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who are longtime friends—each side contributed an edgy dose of cool to the advertising effort, which was produced by TBWA/Chiat/Day,” writes Thomas Mucha. “The pairing scored with music fans. Following its exclusive release on Apple’s iTunes Music Store, U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb went on to top the iTunes sales charts for weeks after its late-November debut. Offline the album launched at the top of the U.S. pop charts, selling almost twice as many copies as U2’s last U.S. release did during its first week.”

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