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OWC expert replaces iPod batteries blindfolded

imageAn Other World Computing manager showed off his battery upgrading skills at this year’s Macworld Conference and Expo by replacing iPod batteries while blindfolded on the show floor.

“Nobody could come close to topping the standing room only crowds generated by Jamie Dresser, Product Manager and New Product Development,” said OWC. “With his eyes completely covered with a seamless blackout blindfold, Dresser took iPods from audience members and went through the intricate technical process of opening the iPod casing without damage, removing the fading manufacture’s battery, installing a higher capacity NewerTech NuPower replacement battery, and sealing the casing to a like-new appearance in perfect working order.”

iSkin launches ‘Touch’ video podcast

iSkin today announced a new video podcast called “Touch,” which the company says “touches upon various topics in an informal behind the scenes guerilla film style, covering a range of topics including music, film and lifestyles from around the world.” The video podcast is available free from the iTunes Music Store.

“Today we at iSkin will begin expanding our love for the arts by shining the proverbial light on what makes us go to the movies, buy music or hit the club,” says iSkin. “Episode 1 features television and recording star Andrea Lewis of Degrassi fame, Wayne Warner’s All Black Affair, Soulful Serenades of Carl Henry from Universal Music, A Gossip Minute and Club Banger Hit Maker, Massari.”

GEAR4 intros PocketPower for iPods, USB devices

  • January 25, 2006

imageGEAR4 (formerly PodGear) has announced the PocketPower, a reserve power pack and battery recharger for iPods and other USB devices. The portable power pack provides an additional 8 hours of playtime to your iPod and will also work with any USB charging device, such as cameras or phones. The PocketPower comes with four AAA rechargeable batteries and USB cable. It will sell for $35 and ship next month.

Mix: NBC sales, Podcast searches, The Munsters, Steve Jobs

  • January 25, 2006

An NBC executive has revealed that the company has sold approximately $2.5 million in TV shows on the iTunes Music Store, one third of it from “The Office.”

According to the Yahoo! Buzz Index, podcasts haven’t yet made the mainstream. “Stuck somewhere in our top 6,000 searches, it’s safe to say podcasting has not reached the critical mass of IM (or even photo-tagging)—yet.”

Apple has added the classic TV series “The Munsters” to the iTunes Music Store. [via TUAW]

Wired’s Leander Khaney has written an editorial on Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ lack of charitable donations and public stance on social issues. “He’s nothing more than a greedy capitalist who’s amassed an obscene fortune. It’s shameful,” Khaney says.

Bicycle handle bar mount for iPod nano available

imageRisse Racing has introduced a new bicycle handle bar mounting kit for the iPod nano. The Mork Mount is crafted from CNC machined aluminum and comes in anodized black, gold or red, and in powder coated black, white, red or yellow. It mounts to standard 7/8” handle bars and “also fits most lawnmower handles, shopping cart handles, exercise bikes.” The Mork Mount sells for $40.

Disney shorts added to iTunes Music Store

To coincide with the announcement of the Disney-Pixar deal, Apple has added 10 of Disney’s animated short films to the iTunes Music Store. Among the $1.99 shorts are “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “Ferdinand the Bull,” “The Three Little Pigs” and “The Ugly Duckling.”

“Laugh along with Mickey, Donald, Goofy and a host of other classic Disney characters in this magical collection of celebrated animated shorts,” says Apple. “All Academy Award nominees or winners, these ten wonderful Disney cartoons are now available for download exclusively on iTunes.”

Disney buys Pixar; Steve Jobs to join board of directors

  • January 24, 2006
  • iPod

The Walt Disney Co. today announced that it is acquiring longtime partner Pixar, the animation studio headed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. As part of the $7.4 billion deal, Jobs becomes Disney’s largest shareholder and will take a position on the company’s board.

“Disney and Pixar can now collaborate without the barriers that come from two different companies with two different sets of shareholders,” said Jobs. “Now, everyone can focus on what is most important, creating innovative stories, characters and films that delight millions of people around the world.”

Since word of the possible deal leaked last week, several analysts and industry pundits have weighed in on what the agreement will mean for Apple. It is widely believed that Jobs will use his powerful new position at Disney to offer more content for the video iPod. The media conglomerate owns a bounty of potential offerings, including the ABC and ESPN network channels, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax Films, among others.

‘iTunes U’ catching on with universities, public

imageFollowing success with the “Stanford On iTunes” initiative, Apple has expanded its iTunes U service in recent months with partnerships with several schools, including Duke University, Drexel University’s School of Education and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Apple describes iTunes U as “a free, hosted service for colleges and universities that provides easy access to your educational content, including lectures and interviews 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” The service is based in iTunes and is navigated and used just like the iTunes Music Store.

While most of the participating universities are just getting started with content for students, Stanford says it is now offering nearly 500 tracks, such as lectures and lessons, that are available to anyone for free. “One of Stanford’s primary missions is to educate the public,” says Scott Stocker, director of Web communications. Allowing the public to access the content “just felt like the right thing to do,? says Cindy Pearson, director of alumni programs.

Stanford says that over 130,000 tracks were downloaded from the site in the first two weeks, and that more than 15,000 tracks, on average, were downloaded per week through the end of the fall semester. The university says it is considering adding recordings of sports events, virtual tours or guided audio tours to the service.

Digital music shakeout looms; 355 online sellers reported

While Apple’s iTunes Music Store continues to dominate the legal digital music market, far ahead of a handful of competitors, the majority of online music sellers are struggling. There are some 355 digital music retailers, according to a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry released last week, and most of them may be forced to shut down or consolidate.

“I don’t imagine all these services can last. Some will go out of business or be consolidated,” said Gabriel Levy, head of music in Europe for RealNetworks, home of the Rhapsody subscription service. Barney Wragg, senior vice president of Universal Music Group’s eLabs unit, shares the same view. “The market keeps growing, and there will be winners and losers,” said Wragg. “The fact that there are 355 retailers—are they all economically viable? Clearly the market is adjusting all the time.”

Because of its market leading position and pricing, many in the music industry are brazen in their wishes for a more powerful rival to iTunes. “It’s inconceivable that others wouldn’t come in (to challenge Apple),” said EMI Chairman Eric Nicoli. “To talk about dominance this early in the game is short-sighted. It’s not a five-year game, it’s a 30- or 40-year game.”

Record companies criticize Apple for iTunes pricing

Many in the music industry are concerned that the iTunes Music Store’s flat rate pricing has done lasting damage to profitability and are adamant that Apple will be forced to move to a variable pricing structure. Music industry executives are taking swipes at Apple at this week’s Midem music trade show in Cannes.

“I’m hearing that the artists aren’t happy, the publishers aren’t happy. Someone other than Apple needs to be happy for this industry to grow,” said Amit Shafrir, president of AOL’s premium services arm.

Record companies say Apple’s 99-cent per song pricing has set the benchmark too low, but have failed to persuade the company to switch to variable pricing, which would allow popular songs to be sold for more.

“For the time being we all must work with Apple and make the most of iTunes,” said Eric Nicoli, chairman of EMI Group PLC, the world’s No. 3 record company. “Single pricing is almost unique to the music industry,” Nicoli added. “If you look at any other consumer category—including things like iPods—they sell at different prices.”

Avanquest brings iPod software to retail

Avanquest Publishing recently announced that it has partnered with four iPod software developers to bring their Mac and PC titles to retail locations in North America. The initial software titles in the new line include Lionhardt Technology’s WebPodStudio ($50; produce audio and video podcasts), ThinkFree’s PodPresenter ($30; create, view and share slide presentations from the iPod), Laridian’s iPocketBible ($40; listen to and read the bible on the iPod) and Memeo’s iExtend ($30; back up music, photos and files on the iPod).

ABC exec: Content still king when it comes to portable video

An ABC executive said today that the company’s deal with Apple to offer its hit TV shows for download was a perfect fit because the video iPod and iTunes “is the best cutting-edge technology there is” and “a great consumer experience.” However, the latest iPod still needed ABC’s shows like “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” to make a real splash, according to ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson.

“He needed the content. It all starts with the shows,” McPherson said, referring to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “There’s all these platforms out there that are incredibly, incredibly exciting. But you have to be careful. I think there’s a little of technology kind of wagging the dog,” he said. “We look at our franchises and our shows, and we look at them across all platforms and all products in terms of how we can grow them to complement the mothership.”

Proporta offers aluminum case, protector for 5G iPod

imageProporta has announced an aluminum case and adhesive film protector for the fifth-generation iPod. The case is made aircraft grade aluminum and features neoprene lining, a removable belt clip, and access to all controls and ports. It’s available in black or silver for $44. Proporta’s Advanced Full Device Screen Protector is made from “an advanced high clarity plastic and silicone material…near invisible protection from scratching without any bulk.” The two-piece kit (front and back) sells for $10.

Study: iTunes created online video ‘Big Bang’

ABI Research said today that Apple’s announcement last year that it would sell videos on the iTunes Music Store triggered the online video “big bang.” The firm also said it believes that the premium online video market will grow 89 percent annually through 2010.

“While the push to online video had started well before the launch of the video iPod, the online video ‘big bang’ started with Apple’s announcement and continued through the Consumer Electronics Show,” ABI said. “At this year’s CES, gadgets took a backseat to the bevy of announcements by large online and content players. The flood of online content announcements from Google, Yahoo and others shows that after years of hesitation from the larger media players, the market for premium content online is finally beginning to take shape.”

iPod integration kit for Vespa scooters available

imageScooterworks is offering a do-it-yourself iPod integration kit for Vespa Stella and P-series scooter models. The stereo kit includes an iPod cradle and adapter, two 4-inch Alpine speakers with amp, and a replacement glovebox door with pre-cut holes for the speakers. The Vespa kit is priced at $300. [via Engadget]

Mix: Top brands, iFish, MyCityMate, Podtees

  • January 23, 2006

Google has retaken the top spot on the list of the world’s most influential brands, beating out Apple which came in second globally, but first in the U.S.

Following the success of its iDog speaker toy targeted at iPod users, Sega has released a similar creation called the iFish.

MyCityMate has released a number of its city guides for the iPod. The travel guides are “comprehensive and up-to-date with unprecedented levels of convenience and personalization.”

Podtee has announced two new iPod-themed T-shirts—“Rock the Pod” and “Mr. Skully.”

iAttire offers romantic attire for iPods

imageiAttire has announced the release of its Valentine 2006 attire for iPods. The romantic wardrobe line includes: Negligee ($24), Corset ($24), Boxer ($24), Briefs ($32), Undershirt ($32), Underwear Set ($50), and Boxer Set ($60).
 
“Garments for the romantic iPod put you and your iPod in the mood,” says the company. “Feminine garments are a French satin corset cinched with black lacings or a sheer red negligee with black chiffon ruffle. For the masculine iPod, is it boxers or briefs? Cotton boxers are available in red stripe, red hearts, or white dots on red. Cotton briefs offer a free-moving ease, a blue waistband, and a perfect fit. A coordinating undershirt is made of the softest cotton.”

Targus offers new iPod nano case

Targus has expanded its line of iPod accessories with a new case for the iPod nano. The case features a leather exterior, scratch-resistant lining, flip-up cover, polyurethane screen and click wheel protectors, and belt clip. The $25 iPod nano case comes in a variety of colors, including orange, pink, red, light blue, and black. We are awaiting photos of the case from Targus.

Mix: iPod boombox, Xbox sales, Wireless iPod, TVMyPod

  • January 20, 2006

AppleInsider claims that Apple will introduce an iPod boombox accessory that was originally planned for last week’s Macworld Expo at a special media event in the near future.

Macsimum News notes that “Apple’s iPod sales embarrassingly crushed the Xbox this Christmas.” More than 14 million iPods sold, compared to 600,000 Xbox consoles.

In a story on Disney and Pixar (Steve Jobs’ other company), The Times mentions in passing that Apple is “working on the next generation of iPods, which would have the ability to connect wirelessly to the internet.”

Reuters reports on TVMyPod and the legality of selling iPods that come pre-loaded with movies and TV programs already on them.

Japanese suede, inden iPod nano cases released

imageMercury Software has announced the release of four new iPod nano cases in its iTabi line. The new case are crafted from suede and Japanese inden, the preferred body armor of the 17th century samurai. The iTabi cases include: embroidered pink cherry blossoms (sakura) on black Japanese suede ($30); embroidered gold cherry blossoms (sakura) on black suede ($30); Japanese leather with dragonfly (tombo) lacquer (urushi) motif ($40); and leather with cherry blossom (sakura) lacquer (urushi) motif ($40).

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