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J.Crew offers summer iPod cases

imageClothing retailer J.Crew is now selling two new iPod cases with its summer line. While they’re inconspicuously just called “MP3 Cases” on the company’s online store, the cases are no doubt for Apple’s device.

The Patch Madras Case (shown right) for full-size iPods is made of washed Indian cotton madras patchwork with Vachetta leather trim. It comes in “Tomato” for $29.50.

J.Crew’s Patch Madras Mini Case for the iPod mini is also made from Indian cotton madras patchwork. It’s available in a blue pattern for $24. Both feature leather-covered belt clips.

Mix: Dave Matthews, Yahoo, Morrissey, Music videos

Stand Up, the new album from the Dave Matthews Band, is now available from the iTunes Music Store with a digital booklet and a video download.

Yahoo is expected to launch a digital music service this week in an effort to take on Apple’s iTunes. The new service will reportedly have more song-sharing and community features than other iTunes rivals.

Morrissey has changed his lyrics from the 1986 track “Bigmouth Strikes Again

Noreve offers $1,800 ‘iPod Love’ case

imageNoreve has unveiled a pricey special edition version of its Tradition Leather iPod Case (iLounge Rating: B). The “iPod Love” case will be limited to 20 units and sports a “heart in white gold filled with diamonds sewn in the leather by hand (44 diamonds of 0,02 cts - VVSI quality, color E)”.

The case is priced at €1,390 (about US$1,790) and is available for 4G iPods and iPod minis. It comes in your choice of black, white, gray, pink, beige, baby blue, ocean blue, or red. Noreve also offers an option to customize the case by embossing your name or other text. The company said it will take up to 25 days to make each case. [via Gear Live]

MightyPods announces birdPod Maker

MightyPods has announced the release of birdPod Maker for Mac OS X, new software that helps turn your iPod into a portable field guide to bird songs.

“Unlike a typical bird song CD set, birdPod’s bird songs are organized to enable quick identification of bird songs in the field. We think birdPod is the best tool yet for learning bird songs… At it’s core, birdPod is an extremely well organized series of bird song playlists. Generated from a large collection of excellent recordings (the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, Eastern Region), these playlists group birds by habitat or family group — which makes the playlists very useful for both learning bird songs and the identification of birds.”

birdPod is priced at $98.95. MightyPods also offers iPods pre-loaded with the software for about a $50 premium over retail. The company says a Windows version of birdPod Maker will be released next month.

iPods dominate Amazon Top Sellers List

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes that various iPod models account for 8 of the top 10 MP3 players in Amazon.com’s Top Sellers list for the devices. “We believe this exhibits Apple’s dominance in the portable MP3 market and shows that the initial exploratory phase of other MP3 players has lightened,” Munster said in a research note to clients provided to iLounge.

Munster also commented on Apple product availability. “We believe that Apple is improving production efficiency as evidenced by the majority of its products being shipped on the same business day,” Munster said. “This is critical to the Apple story as Apple products continue to experience strong demand as supported by the solid overall performance of Apple products on Amazon.com’s Top Seller Lists.”

Eminem’s label settles lawsuit over Apple ad

The Detroit News reports that the record label of Eminem has agreed to an undisclosed financial settlement in its lawsuit over the use of one of the rapper’s songs in an Apple ad that appeared on MTV. “The parties were able to reach an amicable resolution,” said Howard Hertz, lawyer for Eight Mile Style and Eminem.

The commercial for the iTunes Music Store featured a young boy singing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and aired on MTV beginning in July 2003. In February 2004, Eight Mile Style filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Apple, MTV and others claiming that Apple used the hit song without permission. Eminem’s lawyers said at the time that “even if he were interested in endorsing a product, any endorsement deal would require a significant amount of money, possibly in excess of $10 million.”

Mix: Clear shuffle, Jobs, Super Tangent, MSN Messenger

One adventurous iPod shuffle owner removed the outer casing of the device and put it an Apple Sport Case to create a “clear” iPod shuffle.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs says he is not tied to the 99 cent download structure for iTunes, but that there’s no reason right now to offer other services such as a subscription option. “We’re not religious on this, but there’s no evidence people want [other models],” he says.

LuxPro’s Super Tangent iPod clone is apparently now in stores in Asia, with the 512MB model selling for 8980 Yen, or about US$85. Unsurprisingly, it’s packaged in a similar way as the iPod shuffle.

Terrill Dent has created an iPod skin for the Windows version of MSN Messenger.

SendStation intros PocketDock Line Out USB

imageSendStation Systems has expanded its iPod adapter lineup with the introduction of the PocketDock Line Out USB. It features a USB 1.1/2.0 port for charging and syncing as well as a 3.5 mm (1/8”) jack that offers stereo line out from your iPod. PocketDock Line Out USB is compatible with all Dock Connector iPods, and ships with two 6 ft. white audio cables for $29.95.

SendStation has also announced a detachable Keyring Dock which protects the Dock Connector and allows customers to always carry a PocketDock with them on their keyring. The PocketDock Line Out USB is the first PocketDock to sport the Keyring Dock. The company said existing models will be upgraded over time. Users who already own a PocketDock can upgrade theirs with a set of three Keyring Docks for $1.98.

Four new European iTunes Music Stores open [updated]

imageAs widely expected, Apple has launched new versions of the iTunes Music Store for citizens of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The new stores come hours after Apple quietly released iTunes 4.8, and can be accessed by clicking on the “Choose Store” link in the left navigation column of the iTunes Music Store.

Notably absent is the long-awaited Australian store, which appears to be delayed by a contract dispute with at least one record company.

Update: Apple has now sent out a press release announcing the four new stores. Of note, the company says that more than 400 million songs have now been purchased and downloaded worldwide, and that it will launch a promotion with UBS to give every Swiss citizen a free song as part of the new “UBS Generation” and “UBS Campus” packages. “UBS is offering song cards for music downloads in all of their branches, which can be used instead of a credit card to purchase tracks from the iTunes Music Store,” Apple says.

iLounge Bloggers’ Contest: Winners Announced

Three winners have been picked for iLounge’s Buyers’ Guide Bloggers’ Contest. Is your blog (or one of your favorites) one of the winners? Check out the official contest page to find out.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Apple releases iTunes 4.8 with video support [updated]

Apple has quietly released iTunes 4.8 for both Mac OS X and Windows. According to the brief release notes, version 4.8 includes “new Music Store features and support for transferring contacts and calendars from your computer to your iPod (requires Mac OS X version 10.4 on your computer).”

This update will presumably bring support for at least some of the previously mentioned new international iTunes Music Stores, including Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norwary, and Denmark. In fact, French iPod enthusiast site iPodGeneration is reporting that Apple will be holding a press conference tomorrow at Zurich to introduce the service in Switzerland.

iTunes 4.8 also adds new video features, including the ability to drag and drop movie clips from your computer into the iTunes Library for easy cataloging and organization. Clips appear with a new movie camera icon in your library; however, categories such as “album” and “composer” continue to be used for these files, and no new “videos” or “movies” genre has been added to accommodate them.

There is also a new “show video full screen” button that lets you easily watch full-screen movies that have been organized in your iTunes Library, as well as options to view movies in a separate smaller window, or within the main iTunes pane. When you “get info” on videos, they appear with a preview picture that can be resized to your liking. The video functionality does not appear to allow users to transfer videos to currently available iPods.

As stated in the release notes, users of Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger can now manage their contacts and calendar information right in iTunes instead of using iSync. Windows users will still need the help of a third-party utility to transfer contacts and calendars to their iPod. (See screenshots of the new video and contact/calendar features by clicking read more.)

Update: iTunes 4.8 also patches a security hole in the software. “The MPEG4 file parsing code in iTunes versions prior to 4.8 contains a buffer overflow vulnerability. Parsing a maliciously-crafted MPEG4 file could cause iTunes to terminate or potentially execute arbitrary code,” Apple says. “iTunes 4.8 addresses this issue by improving the validation checks used when loading MPEG4 files.”

Update #2: Several iLoungers report that Apple has made a select number of music videos available for download as bonuses to single or album purchases at the iTunes Music Store. For instance, those who buy Morcheeba’s The Antidote will get the video for the band’s “Wonders Never Cease” for free with the album. There does not currently appear to be any videos available for individual purchase.

Forums: Photos, Stickers, shuffles, Soundcheck, and More

What’s on tap this week in the iLounge Discussion Forums? Our members continue to post great photos in the long-running “show us what you look like!!” thread, which now runs for 60 pages (and almost 900 replies). Miffed that you didn’t get any Apple stickers with your iPod? Just wait until you find out what some people did with theirs. And if you’re still trying to justify buying an iPod shuffle, read how some iLoungers have recently randomized their lives.

Of course, our readers continue to offer helpful advice on all sorts of iPod topics. Here’s the answer to a basic problem - preventing iTunes from deleting the iPod’s library. What about the iPod’s mysterious Soundcheck function? Here’s how it can be used to give a uniform listening level across all songs. And if you’d like to use the iPod as a home jukebox, but aren’t sure which speakers do it justice, here are some readers’ suggestions, as well as ours.

PocketParty turns iPod shuffle into tiny boombox

imagePodGear’s new PocketParty Shuffle is a new speaker system that turns an iPod shuffle into “the world’s tiniest ghetto blaster.” The iPod shuffle simply plugs into the top of the PocketParty via the headphone port. The device has two speakers and a status light on one side. It’s not clear if you’ll be able to control the iPod shuffle’s playback options with the PocketParty controls.

“Designed exclusively for the iPod shuffle, and taking design cues from the world’s most iconic flash MP3 player, the PocketParty can even be worn around the neck like the iPod itself,” the company says. It offers 1 watt of stereo output and up to 10 hours of battery life from a single AA battery. PodGear representatives said the PocketParty Shuffle will sell for £24.99 and should be ready within a month.

Mix: Coolness, Vending machine, New Zealand, Hearing loss

Ken Belson of The New York Times asks if the iPod can keep its cool factor as the device becomes more mainstream.

A Boing Boing reader spotted a vending machine that sells iPod minis and iPod shuffles at the Atlanta Airport.

The iPod shortages in New Zealand will soon be remedied, according to Apple division general manager Steve Ford. “Over the next seven to 10 days we’ll kill off all the shortages we’ve been having,” he says.

Audiologists believe “tens of thousands of young people are causing serious damage to themselves, and are likely to suffer tinnitus and loss of hearing in later life” because of iPods and other audio players.

PodBuddies offers new iPod shuffle figurines

imagePodBuddies has announced a new figurine/iPod shuffle holder. “Introducing Silhouette Boy 1.0 and Silhouette Girl 1.0. Both of the pieces are a take on the popular commercial and also serve as iPod shuffle holders. Each piece is individuall numbered and signed by Ivy and will be a limited run of only 100 pieces. The piece comes on a base that will allow your shuffle to fit on nicely and not slip off.” The figurines will sell for $18.99 each.

Cringely: Apple to license iPod clones, move to iTMS

In an interesting article for PBS, tech pundit Robert X. Cringely says the iTunes Music Store is Apple’s future — not the iPod. He says Apple will license out the iPod technology at the right time to become a software-only company when it comes to digital music.

“Ultimately, what Apple wants to do is make its money through iTunes, where the profit margins are better in the long term and the system is easily scalable,” Cringely says. “It was necessary to create the iPod platform to make this happen. But downward price pressures will eventually hurt iPod profit margins and affect Apple’s stock price, so the trick is to know when to switch the business from being a mix of hardware and software to one that is software-only. That switch, which I believe to be inevitable, will happen shortly after Apple begins to license iPod clones.”

“As Apple’s profit drops on each iPod it makes, eventually the per-CPU figure will approach what Apple might receive from licensees,” he says. “At that moment it makes more sense for Apple to license clones than it does to make more iPods. Licensing clones at the right time would lead to huge clone sales, effectively killing any significant iTunes competitor. And in the long run, iTunes is where the money is.”

Cringely also notes that (previously mentioned) unused icons in the version of iTunes included with Mac OS X v10.4 hint that new audio format support and a video iPod are just around the corner. “And 10.4 gives us a peek at another evolution of iTunes, which is the inevitable expansion of the system to carry additional audio file formats,” he says. “Looking at the unused iTunes icons that shipped with your new version of 10.4, you’ll notice icons for currently-not-supported ogg vorbis and Windows Media Audio (wma), as well as several others including a variety of video formats, too.”

New ‘skater’ iPod commercial airs

imageApple debuted a new iPod and iTunes television commercial during tonight’s Saturday Night Live on NBC. It featured the new single “Feel Good Inc” by the Gorillaz. Like the previous ads, the spot features silhouetted iPod-toting dancers in front of colorful backgrounds — only this time they’re all on roller skates. This is the first new iPod commercial since January’s iPod shuffle ad, and the first for full-size iPods since October’s ad featuring U2. Apple has yet to post the new commercial. Update: The ad is now available on Apple’s website.

LuxPro adds tiny screen to iPod shuffle clone

imageAfter slightly tweaking and renaming its original iPod shuffle clone, LuxPro has now added two new versions of its “Super Tangent

Bruce Willis an iPod and iTunes fanatic

To say that Hollywood actor Bruce Willis loves his iPod would be an understatement. On his official website, he says that “iTunes has re-energized the singles market, iPod has revolutionized how you can enjoy music and I for one am a convert.”

“The Internet has turned me on to amazing music that I might otherwise have never heard of,” he says. “As a Mac enthusiast I have taken the iTunes playlist concept to a new level. My friends will turn me on to a new (or old) musical influence and before you know it I’ve purchased the whole catalog and downloaded it to one my trusty little iPods, played it in all of my classic cars through the cassette players (what a re-invention of the cassette/car radio) although now they offer special attachments for the USB cable. Whether on the set or in the car an iPod is always near.”

Griffin unveils TuneCaps for iPod shuffle

imageGriffin Technology today announced TuneCaps, three new carrying options for the iPod shuffle. The TuneCaps package — which is priced at $14.99 and scheduled to begin shipping later this month — includes a wrist strap iPod shuffle cap, a belt clip cap, and a keyring attachment.

“Slip on TuneCaps’ Wrist Strap cap for fingertip convenience. Replace the shuffle’s cap with TuneCaps’ handy pocket clip and secure it to your pocket (or belt or necktie or whatever). Slip on TuneCaps’ keyring attachment and take your tunes with you while you drive.”

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