Apple will launch a version of its iTunes Music Store in Japan this August, a Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday. The Nihon Keizai business daily said that major Japanese record labels, including Columbia Music Entertainment, Avex Group Holdings and Toshiba-EMI, have agreed to provide songs for the service, but that Sony Music Entertainment has yet to agree on contract terms with Apple. The paper said Japanese users will be able to download songs for around 150 yen ($1.40).
Jocelyn Vilter of Charter Oak Rags let us know about her new line of hand-made iPod shuffle sleeves. She offers a variety of designs, including several jacquards, prints and solids. Each lightweight case features a detachable beaded lanyard. The iPod shuffle sleeves from Charter Oak Rags are priced at $10 each.
Meanwhile, Mercury Software Japan has introduced the iTabi shuffle, a new iPod Shuffle case made from embroidered gold fabric (kinran) traditionally used for making the kimono sash (obi) in Japan. “Like the ‘tabi’ or the traditional Japanese sock worn with kimono, iTabi protects your iPod while ‘on the road’ (another meaning of tabi).” The iTabi shuffle sells for $19.98.
In addition to announcing a transition to Intel processors for Macs, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered an update on iPod and iTunes sales, as well as a look at the upcoming podcast support in iTunes during his keynote speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.
Jobs said that 16 million iPods have been sold as of the end of March, accounting for 76% market share of all music players. He said more than 430 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store so far, and that it commands 82% of legal digital music sales.
The Apple chief next discussed the previously announced podcasting features of iTunes 4.9. Jobs called podcasting “iPod plus broadcasting,” “TiVo for radio” and “Wayne’s World for Radio.” He said that anyone can make it and get a worldwide audience, and said Apple sees it as the hottest thing going in radio right now.
Jobs said you can easily subscribe to the podcasts and have them automatically synced to your iPod. “We’re going to make this even easier,” he said. “We’re going to build it right into iTunes and iPod.” Jobs then went into a quick demo in which podcasts were shown in the source list of iTunes, and there was a podcast directory directly in the application. He quickly went to Adam Curry’s “The Daily Source Code” and then to KCRW public radio. Subscribing was as easy as clicking one button.
Finally, Jobs said that Apple plans to do its own podcast for iTunes Music Store releases every Tuesday, and revealed that artwork will be supported for each podcast.
Update: We’ve now posted our photo gallery from the WWDC keynote.
CopyPod 7 from WindSolutions is the latest version of the Windows application that allows you to backup, copy, and transfer music from your iPod to your PC. The new version includes fully automated iTunes importing, including Playlists, Ratings, Play Counts and Date Last Played. The software also adds an incremental backup function to update iTunes or a selected folder. CopyPod 7 sells for $19.90.
Following a meeting with Apple management in California, Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said that despite all of the news recently surrounding the company, Apple doesn’t want to get distracted from its music products.
However, Milunovich said Apple continues to downplay bringing video support to the iPod. “Movies take too long to download for now, are not watched over and over, and that unlike music there are many ways to acquire movies,” he said Apple pointed out. “Still, we think video capability (especially for music videos) could be added to the iPod.”
The analyst said that audio books and podcasting should contribute to iPod’s popularity, but that the Apple executives were not optimistic that satellite radio would take off.
Milunovich also said that Apple is not against a subscription service like those offered by its rivals, but the company still thinks most users want to own their music instead of “renting” it. “We think Apple could introduce a subscription service in the next year, which could be less profitable than selling songs initially though possibly more profitable long term if sub rates rise,” he said.
Milunovich said that Apple doesn’t expect iTunes to make much money. “Although moderately profitable, the company doesn’t seem optimistic that songs will be a major profit contributor,” the analyst said.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has introduced the DLO Flexible Dock for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The $19.99 accessory is a 7-inch adjustable USB dock that lets you connect your shuffle to any computer. The company said it’s a perfect solution for those with recessed or tightly spaced USB ports, and that the gooseneck cable displays the shuffle for easy access.
“The DLO Flexible Dock frees up adjacent connectors that would otherwise be blocked by the extra-wide iPod shuffle,” DLO says. “It plugs into any free USB port with a standard size plug, then bends out of the way and offers a super-handy connection port, providing easy in-and-out access for the shuffle. It also prominently displays the shuffle right next to a person’s computer or screen.”
A quick look at the iLounge Discussion Forums reveals a 5-star thread that has never been far from the top of the hot topics listing: the Brushed Steel iPod Tutorial. Clearly a popular iPod modification from its stats: 41 pages, 604 replies, and over 140,000 views.
One reader tells us about the loss of his iPod during an act of chivalry whilst helping a young lady with a horse. The moral of this sad iPod tale? Some animals will eat anything…
Need a quick project? Some readers have demonstrated their ability to turn plastic interlocking bricks into something useful. It can be viewed in the thread on Lego Stands. Post your results!
Finding yourself returning repeatedly to the same song on your iPod? Got a favorite tune? Read what other members are replaying again and again and add your favorite “Must Listen To Song.”
LAPD detectives are investigating a multi-million dollar heist involving 12,000 stolen iPods.
PodBrix and iPodMyPhoto.com have launched a limited edition photo series. Customers now have the option of being “iPodified” along with the PodBrix 1000 character.
PodBuddies has introduced Earbud Girl 1.0, a new figurine that features a holder for your earbuds. It’s priced at $15.99.
Speck Products has introduced the Hand Skin, a new iPod case that was designed to help you keep a grip on your iPod while running, walking or doing other activities. The rubberized case features an adjustable and removable hand strap that “fits comfortably yet snug, so your iPod won’t slip or fall—even if you lose your grip.” It also offers removable screen and Click Wheel protectors, and fits all 4G iPods models (including iPod photos). The Hand Skin case is available in black/grey and blue/grey for $34.94.
Following months of pressure from environmental activists, Apple today announced a free iPod recycling program with an added incentive. The company said that beginning today, “customers can bring iPods they no longer want to any of Apple’s 100 retail stores in the US for free environmentally friendly disposal, and those who drop off an iPod, iPod mini or iPod photo will receive a 10 percent discount on the purchase of a new iPod that day.” Apple said that iPods received for recycling in the US are “processed domestically and no hazardous material is shipped overseas.”
The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition has been pressuring Apple since late last year to do more with its environmental practices, claiming that the company doesn’t do enough to ensure that its products are disposed of properly. The group focused largely on the iPod and its hard-to-replace battery. Protests were staged outside Apple’s headquarters in January and during this year’s Macworld Expo a few days later. The group also picketed at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting in April.
The Toxics Coalition described the iPod as “a time-bomb for our health and environment because of the toxic metals that will either go into incinerators or landfills.” Apple has acknowledged the device does contain “a small amount of lead,” which the company says it is working to phase out. “To call the iPod an environmental time bomb is just inexcusable,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the shareholders meeting.
The Royal Academy of Engineering will award its coveted silver President’s Medal to Apple design guru Jonathan Ive for “his outstanding achievements in engineering design and in particular in the design of the iPod, which represents the very best of human interface engineering.”
Shares of Apple dropped nearly 5% early Friday after saying Thursday that it had settled an iPod class-action lawsuit that could cost the company as much as $100 million.
In an article looking at CD-quality downloads, BusinessWeek’s Peter Burrows reports: “If the digital music revolution is to reach its full potential—an all-digital future, perhaps, in which CDs racks are no longer needed—analysts say the industry will have to hit a far better-sounding note.”
Developers of the Mozilla Foundation’s Thunderbird have added podcasting features to the open-source e-mail client.
iPodStyles said it has teamed up with Sumajin to offer the Shuffle Loop, a new silicone case for the iPod shuffle. According to the companies, the Shuffle Loop was designed to protect the device with thicker silicone materials at the corners. The case is available in six colors—black, blue, clear, green, orange and pink—and can be purchased with a matching Smartwrap ($4.99) and earphone sponges ($1.30) to “complete the look.” The Shuffle Loop is priced at $8.
This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums, as we move into the summer with its mix of good and bad weather, forum readers have asked the question: what are your 5 favorite sunny weather bands and what are your 5 favorite depressing rainy weather bands?
If you’re planning for a summer in the sun, you might want a beach friendly case to keep the sand and water at bay. See what others suggest for keeping your iPod safe in the harsh environment of the beach. And don’t forget to check iLounge’s official Case Reviews, too.
What better way to spend your time in the sun than enjoying the company of… a book? Here are some Audible book recommendations from other ‘loungers if you’re looking for a change from music…
Has the unthinkable happened and your iPod’s been damaged? As Apple’s warranty does not cover accidental damage, you can find help in the Service, Warranty, and Repair Q&A Forum.
Pacific Rim Technologies has announced the immediate availability of a new glow in the dark version of its Gel Shield silicone case for the iPod shuffle. The glow in the dark Gel Shield is available for $9.99.
Also available from Pacific Rim are the original Gel Shield cases, which come in five colors—Lime, Charcoal, Juicy Pink, Sky Blue and White. They sell for $7.99 or in a 3-pack for $14.99.
UK-based Disruptive Technology Channels, owner of the PodGear brand, today announced a new brand of Artwizz iPod accessories. The first offering from the company is a new set of earphones called HangPods that feature an integrated neck strap allowing iPod owners to hang their iPod around their neck for hands-free usage while simplfying cord tangles at the same time.
The Artwizz HangPods are available in black or white for £14.99. They can also be purchased with the iSee mini (clear plastic iPod mini case with lanyard eyelet) for £29.99, or with the iSleeve (silicone iPod case with lanyard eyelet) for £19.99.
If you’ve been reading iLounge recently, you’re probably familiar with Luxpro’s line of iPod shuffle knock-offs. What you may not know is that there are numerous companies copying every model of the iPod and even iPod accessories. At this week’s Computex trade show in Taipei, an iLounge reader snapped several photos and collected specs on a number of these clones.
The most brazen iPod copy seen at the show was an iPod mini look-alike from a Taiwan consumer electronics OEM supplier. Said to cost only US$50, the “i-Pocket” is roughly the same size as Apple’s iPod mini, but includes no internal storage—instead it has a memory card slot. It supports SD/MMC/MS cards for music storage, and acts as a card reader for SD/MMC/MS/MS Duo/MS Pro formats. The player also offers voice recording, an FM radio and recorder, a color OLED display (128 x 64), USB 2.0, and supports MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, WMV, ASF file formats. It is available in gold, red, blue and black.
Continue reading for a full report (with photos) on iPod shuffle and iPod accessory clones, as well as new products.
iPod owners who complained of battery problems will get $50 vouchers and extended service warranties, according to the terms of a tentative class-action lawsuit settlement. Lawyers representing consumers said that the settlement could affect as many as two million people who purchased first, second and third-generation iPods through May 2004. Eight consumers filed the suit against Apple in 2003 claiming the iPod failed to live up to claims that its battery would last the product’s lifetime and play music for up to 10 hours.
“People who fill out a claim form are entitled to receive $50 redeemable toward the purchase of any Apple products or services except iTunes downloads or iTunes gift certificates,” reports AP. “They can redeem the voucher within 18 months of final settlement approval at any bricks-and-mortar Apple Store or online. Consumers who had battery troubles can also get their battery or iPod replaced through the lawsuit. Apple currently replaces or repairs defective products that are returned within one year but the class-action settlement extends the warranty to two years, plaintiffs’ lawyers said.”
Forbes reports that the growth of stolen music continues: “Consumers purchased 25.9 million songs in March 2005, 52% more than they bought a year ago. Consumers also downloaded more than 242 million songs illegally this March, up 25% from March 2004.”
The iPod has made the cover of the New Yorker magazine for the first time. The August issue’s cover features “The Song of Spring,” by Peter de Sève, which shows a man sitting on a park bench with the famous white earbuds.
Goldman Sachs expects little sequential iPod growth this quarter. “In contrast to the past few quarters when Apple showed healthy upside to our and Wall Street iPod forecasts, our retail and supply chain checks suggest that iPod shipments are tracking in line with our 5.35 million unit estimate for the June quarter,” the firm said.
Jill Klosterman of The Daily Cardinal says that Apple’s iPod commercials “represent an ideal synthesis of the economic principle of product differentiation with the American principle of independence.”
Following iLounge’s exclusive report earlier this week, Altec Lansing has now officially announced its inMotion iM7 portable speaker system for the iPod and iPod mini. The company said that it will be available this month at Apple Stores and from its online store for $249.95.
“The iM7 is the newest and highest-performing member of Altec Lansing’s groundbreaking portable inMotion speaker family,” company says in its press release. “This sleek, cylindrical, white and silver ‘mobile home’ for your iPod packs more drivers and power into its boombox-sized chassis than any competitive product, including two 1” tweeters, two 3” mid-range drivers, a 4” side-firing subwoofer and a 4” passive radiator. These components combine with Altec Lansing’s new high-efficiency digital amplification technology and proven XdB onboard digital signal processor to deliver big bass, clearly distinguished mids and highs, and room-filling sound from every track.”
Apple announced today that European iTunes Music Stores now accept Firstgate’s Click&Buy as a payment option. The third-party service lets customers purchase music via debit card, direct debits, invoice or bank transfer. The Click&Buy option will be available for all European countries except Switzerland.
Apple today also launched its iTunes Affiliate Program in Europe, which lets European users earn 4% commission on sales generated by direct links to the iTunes Music Store from a Web site or email. Affiliates that sign up for the program before June 30th will be automatically entered to win an iPod.
“We think giving our iTunes customers the option to use the Click&Buy payment option is going to be a hit,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Applications. “And, with over 15,000 iTunes affiliates in the US, the introduction of our affiliate program to Europe will drive even more customers to the world’s best online music store, while providing affiliate Web sites a quick and easy way to generate commissions.”