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Happy New Year from iLounge!

As iLounge’s editors close out 2005, we look back fondly at a year that was as amazing for the Lounge as it was for the iPod. We were blessed by a massive surge in readership, which saw our traffic double from roughly 2 million loungers per month to around 4 million, while our Forums grew from under 40,000 registered members to over 83,000. Repeated server upgrades, the last one just a few weeks ago, have been necessary to handle all of the new traffic. On top of all the new people, there have been too many new iPod and major accessory launches to count, and hundreds of new news stories, tutorials, reviews, and photographs as a result. It has been an incredibly busy but exciting year.

Now, with our holiday vacations coming to an end (Jeremy has returned from shopping in Asia, while Dennis is soon to finish his tropical lounging in Hawaii), 2006 is here, and it’s going to start off with two bangs. iLounge will provide live coverage from the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show starting this week, where a huge array of new iPod accessories will be launched, and then the team will be in San Francisco for the annual Macworld show the following week. We expect Macworld to be big on Mac-related announcements and iPod accessories, but not on new iPod hardware. (For more on that subject, we’ll soon have a new Backstage entry to share some of what we’ve heard.)

Thank you to all of our readers for your continued support and participation in the growth of iLounge. Even if we can’t respond individually to the thousands of messages that appear here and in our e-mail boxes every day, we appreciate every bit of your involvement, and strongly anticipate that 2006 will be an even bigger Year of the iPod - a major step forward for the entire iPod community, with some huge surprises in store for iLounge, too. Happy New Year, and stay tuned for what’s next!

Queen honors iPod designer

  • December 31, 2005
  • iPod

Apple design guru Jonathan Ive, best known for his work on the iPod and iMac, was named on Friday in the Queen’s Honours List for his achievements in industrial design.

“London-born Jonathan Ive, 38, Apple’s senior vice president of design, on Friday was awarded the title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth,” reports Reuters. “The rank of CBE is the third most senior rank among the five British classes of chivalry. It was created in 1917 by King George V to honor noncombatants at the height of World War I. Only the first two orders qualify for knighthood.”

Pacific Rim intros Pod Jams for iPod nano

imagePacific Rim Marketing has announced its wearable iDiddy Pod Jams for Apple’s iPod nano. The Pod Jams consist of either a clear see-through PVC case or a diamond-etched “Bling” case along with the company’s iLanyard, a fabric lanyard and earbud combination. Both Pod Jams come with your choice black or white iLanyards and are priced at $30 each. They will be available the first week of January. “Both of these Pod Jams products provide great protection against the abuse that your iPod will experience with normal daily use,” says Pacific Rim. “The earbuds pound out the base as well delivering the highs and everything in between. Rhodium-plated rings hold the earbuds in place against the iLanyard when not in use preventing the tangling of the earbud wires.”

Mix: Exec picks, Amazon list, iPod spam, Jobs posters

  • December 30, 2005

Not surprisingly, the iPod is the most popular gadget among 50 top executives surveyed by Forbes. [via TUAW]

The 2GB iPod nano, the 20GB color screen iPod, and the 512MB iPod shuffle were all included in Amazon.com’s Best Of 2005 List, which includes the “best selling, most positively reviewed, most wished for, and favorite gift products as determined by Amazon.com customers in 2005.”

Free iPods, Donald Trump and cheap Rolex watches were among AOL’s third annual Top 10 Spam List.

The latest Mike Industries iPod creativity contest has collected a number of humorous movie posters featuring Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Griffin ships iTrip for iPod nano

imageGriffin Technology today announced that its new iTrip FM transmitter for the iPod nano is now shipping. The new iTrip uses the nano’s LCD display for on-screen tuning, and features a new “sled? design that wraps around the bottom and back of the nano, connecting via the device’s dock and headphone connectors. The iTrip nano also features Griffin’s SmartSense volume control, selectable mono or stereo modes, support for US, International and Japanese tuning modes, and a built-in USB port. It comes with a microfiber carrying pouch to keep iTrip and nano free of scratches. The iTrip for the nano is priced at $50. An extended First Look at the new iTrip is available here.

Mix: Sony BMG, iPodResQ, Mini tee, Ice fishing

  • December 29, 2005

As part of its settlement to the rootkit class-action lawsuit, Sony BMG will apparently offer free album downloads from the iTunes Music Store.

iPodResQ has announced that it has lowered the price of its iPod nano screen repair service by $30.

Beastee is offering a $16 T-shirt featuring the discontinued iPod mini pleading for a second chance. It’s available in the same green, pink and blue of the minis.

There’s no end in sight for unique podcast topics. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has developed a 30-minute podcast on ice fishing.

Music store offers iPods for CD trade-ins

  • December 29, 2005
  • Deals

Millennium Music, an independent music store in Charleston, South Carolina, allows customers to trade in their old CDs for an iPod. You can drop off your CDs at one of two locations or ship your collection to the store. The CDs credits will be judged on physical quality and quality of title. In addition, if a customer doesn’t have enough CDs, the difference can be made up with cash.

Millennium’s CD to iPod converstion table:
45 CDs = 512MB iPod shuffle
65 CDs = 1GB iPod shuffle
85 CDs = 2GB iPod nano
110 CDs = 4GB iPod nano
130 CDs = 30GB video iPod
175 CDs = 60GB video iPod

iPod tops brand survey

  • December 29, 2005
  • iPod

Apple’s iPod ranks as the top brand in the eyes of Americans, according to a national study conducted by Landor Associates, a leading branding and design consultancy, and research firm Penn, Schoen & Berland. The 2005 ImagePower Newsmaker Brands Survey examines Americans’ attitude toward the top brands.

“Four Internet brands (Google, eBay, Amazon.com and Yahoo!) are among the top 10 winning brands in 2005, while the iPod brand earned the No. 1 overall spot. The release of the shuffle, nano and video iPods in 2005 combined with effective branding efforts helped iPod continue its domination of the MP3 market,” the firms said. “Other technology brands in the top 20 include DVR, Xbox 360 and SIRIUS Satellite Radio.”

iMeat: New iPod replaced with meat [updated]

  • December 29, 2005
  • iPod

image

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imageA Mililani, Hawaii woman claims that she purchased a video iPod for her 14-year-old son as a Christmas gift, but when he opened it the device had been replaced by some kind of mystery meat. “He went from joy, really happy joyful,” Rachel Cambra said, “then to discover this, just angry and hurt.”

Cambra said the iPod’s packaging was sealed (as was the meat) and that it didn’t appear to have been tampered with when she brought it home from the Honolulu Wal-Mart where she works. Dan Fogleman, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said the package was sealed and has contacted Apple about the matter. He said Cambra will be given a new iPod for her son when the next shipment arrives.

Update: An iLounger has provided us with two photos taken from a local newscast on the story.

Mix: iPod Express, AFI, 2006 predictions, Price drops

  • December 29, 2005

BusinessWeek’s Peter Burrows says that the iPod Express EasyPay system used in Apple retail stores this holiday season will continue to be used at some locations.

The American Film Institute (AFI) has recognized the video iPod and other portable video players as a noteworthy event of 2005.

Marketwatch’s Bambi Francisco predicts that “Apple will release an updated video iPod in the first quarter of 2006 and will sign up CBS and News Corp in content deals similar to those it has already struck with NBC Universal and Walt Disney.”

The price of the shufflicious pendant case for the iPod shuffle has been dropped to $9.95, while Nikkipod.com has put all of its iPod cases on sale for $12.

Geneva iPod speaker systems debut

imageGeneva Labs has introduced two new high-end iPod speaker systems. The Geneva Sound Systems are all-in-one units crafted in piano-lacquered wood cabinets. They’re available in two sizes, the Model L and Model XL, and in three colors—red, white and black.

Both models feature Apple’s universal iPod dock (compatible with all dockable iPods), a built-in slot-loading CD player, an FM radio with digital tuner, and a remote control. The speaker systems also feature LED displays, audio input for using other devices, and “EmbracingSound” professional sound technology. An optional floor stand ($75) in aluminum is available for both models. The Model L sells for $600, while the XL is priced at $1075. Availability was not announced.

iDiddy Santa Fe Black Diamond case announced

imagePacific Rim Marketing has announced the iDiddy Santa Fe Black Diamond case for the video iPod and iPod nano. The leather case features a snap-over lid, a carabineer clip, short silver plated chain, and comes with the iDiddy Opticover protective film. Priced at $45, the Santa Fe Black Diamond case is available now. “A true fashion accessory, the Santa Fe Black Diamond has been elegantly designed with our fashion conscious iPod nano and iPod with video clients in mind,” says the company. “The cases are meticulously assembled using the finest leathers. Each Santa Fe Black Diamond case is individually crafted and sewn with attention to detail using luxurious soft and supple Calfskin, the elite of the leathers used in fine fashion leather accessory products.”

Music store traffic rises 50% on Christmas

The iTunes Music Store and other digital music sites saw a spike in traffic on Christmas Day as hundreds of thousands of consumers looked to download tracks for their new iPods that they received as gifts. According to numbers from online researcher Hitwise, visits to music download sites saw a 50 percent increase between December 24 and 25. Hitwise also found that visits to music sites were 15 percent higher than last Christmas. “Apple’s iTunes Music Store increased its dominance of the download market, receiving twice as many visits as its next closest rival, Sony’s Connect internet site,” reports the Financial Times. “This compares with Christmas Day last year, when iTunes was only 10 percent ahead of its then closest competitor, Napster.”

Rain Design announces iWoofer for iPods

imageRain Design has announced a new iPod speaker system for iPods. The iWoofer features an iPod dock with charging and synchronization, 2.1 Subwoofer speaker system with digital amplifier and bass control, FM radio with auto scan tuning, preset station and last station memory, telescopic antenna, blue halo lamp, AC or battery powered (4 AA), USB and audio in. The iWoofer comes in two models; iWoofer and iWoofer nano. The standard iWoofer fits all docking iPods including the iPod video, iPod mini and iPod shuffle. The iWoofer and iWoofer nano cost $129 and pre-orders are being taken with an expected ship date in the 2nd or 3rd week of January.

iLounge recently held the “What is it?” Contest sponsored by Rain Design to guess the new product and three winners have been announced.

Mix: Podcasts, Best of 2005, iPod Express, Xbox 360

  • December 28, 2005

Macworld UK reports that Apple may begin offering fee-based podcasts through iTunes early next year.

The iTunes Music Store’s Best of 2005 section is now up, featuring the year’s best sellers and staff favorites.

Apple retail news site ifoAppleStore has posted an in-depth look at the holiday iPod Express checkout area.

Engadget has posted the second part in its article on how to make an iPod dock for your Xbox 360.

Speck debuts iKitty for iPod nano

imageSpeck Products today introduced the iKitty for the iPod nano, a new version of its rubberized cat case. The iKitty stands on four legs, with the nano’s click wheel and screen on the toy’s belly. It has a bendable tail, screen protector, and access to the dock connector, headphone jack and hold switch. The iKitty for iPod nano sells for $35 and will begin shipping later this week.

Sixth iPod nano lawsuit filed; Apple seeks to consolidate

A Baton Rouge, Louisiana woman has filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple over the iPod nano’s proneness to scratching. Plaintiffs have now filed a total of six similar iPod nano lawsuits in California, New York and New Jersey.

“Apple marketed the nano—because it’s small and streamlined—to be used in outdoor activities and athletic activities,” said the woman’s lawyer, Philip Bohrer. “But these devices are not designed to withstand even routine use. There’s a flaw in the design that needs to be changed.”

In a memorandum seeking to consolidate all six federal class-action lawsuits and transfer them to the Northern District of California, Apple lawyer Penelope Preovolos said the company “denies that the iPod nano scratches excessively absent user abuse. The iPod nano is an extraordinarily popular and successful product and is free of defects.”

Software: PodFlicks, iPod.iTunes, iVideoToGo, Podner, Pod2Go

  • December 27, 2005
  • iPod

PodFlicks 1.0.1 will convert a video into an iPod-compatible format and copy it directly to your iPod where it will reside in the Video:Movies folder.

iPod.iTunes 3.0 is an update to the software that synchronizes songs, videos, playlist, ratings, played dates and play counts in both directions between iPods and iTunes.

iVideoToGo is a new appliation that enables users to convert DVDs and video files into iPod-compatible format.

Podner 1.2.1 from Splasm Software is the latest version of the drag-and-drop Mac software for creating iPod-compatible videos.

Pod2Go 1.6 is an update to the Mac software that lets you put a variety of content on your iPod, such as news feeds, weather reports, movie showtimes, driving directions, lyrics and more.

iPods push Amazon.com to best holiday season ever

  • December 27, 2005
  • iPod

With iPods dominating its electronics section, Amazon.com said that this year’s holiday shopping season was its best ever. The online retailer said the black 4GB iPod nano, the black 30GB video iPod and the 512MB iPod shuffle were the top three best-selling electronics products. Amazon also said more than 108 million items were ordered for the holiday season, noting that its busiest day was December 12th, when 3.6 million items, or 41 items per second, were ordered.

Mix: Video albums, Greatest gadgets, Samsung-Sony, Hillary Clinton

  • December 27, 2005

Apple’s iTunes Music Store is now offering “video albums” from both Green Day ($15/15 videos) and Jack Johnson ($10/22 videos).

The iPod landed at No. 2 behind the original Sony Walkman on PC World’s list of the top 50 greatest gadgets of the past 50 years.

Samsung said on Monday it may sell NAND flash memory chips to Sony for use in its MP3 players. The deal is said to be similar to the arrangement Samsung made with Apple earlier this year.

An album comprised of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s best speeches of 2005 has been made available for download on the iTunes Music Store.

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