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Griffin ships TuneFlex for iPod nano

imageGriffin Technology has announced that it is now shipping the TuneFlex (iLounge Rating: B+), its new car dock and charger for iPod nano. The TuneFlex features a flexible steel neck and rotating cradle, and plugs into your car’s 12-volt accessory outlet. It also has a 1/8

Apple to hold special event on Feb. 28

imageApple has sent out an invitation to select media, including iLounge, to a special event that will be held at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California on February 28th.

The invitation, which only features the iCal-like calendar image shown right, reads: “Come see some fun new products from Apple.” The special event begins at 9:00 a.m. at Apple Town Hall, Building 4.

iLounge has confirmed with Apple that this event will be taking place and is not a hoax like the email sent out last week purporting to be an Apple invitation to a special event on March 1st.

NBC offers ‘Conviction’ pilot for free on iTunes

NBC is offering the pilot episode of its new legal drama “Conviction” for free on the iTunes Music Store nearly two weeks before the show makes its network series premiere. NBC is also offering a music video by The Gabe Dixon Band and a behind-the-scenes look at the show. The hour-long show, currently being heavily promoted on air, will debut on the network on Friday, March 3.

“This is the stunning new drama from the creator of Law & Order, offering viewers a provocative look into the cases and lives of New York Assistant District Attorneys,” reads a description of the show. “They’re young and over their heads, pushing to prove themselves in the world’s biggest city and most tumultuous courtrooms. But whatever they lack in experience, they more than make up for in their passion to make their case.”

Mix: Amazon.com, Nintendo, Domokun, Podcast fans

Amazon.com has refused to comment on reports that it is planning to launch a digital music store and a branded portable MP3 player to compete with the iPod and iTunes.

Nintendo of America’s sales and marketing VP, Reggie Fils-Aime, admits in a column he wrote for Brandweek that his company’s approach with the DS and Revolution has drawn much from the iPod.

A Craftser.org member has posted directions on how to create your own handmade Domokun iPod case. [via TUAW]

In an article entitled “Invasion of the podcast people,” Chris Coomey of the Chicago Tribune looks at how podcasts swell in popularity and quickly gain “armies of loyal fans.”

Ricky Gervais cashes in on comedy podcast hit

Ricky Gervais, the English comedian behind the BBC’s and NBC’s “The Office,” is cashing in on his top-rated comedy podcast by signing a deal to sell future episodes through the iTunes Music Store and Audible.com. Seasons two and three of Gervais’s “The Ricky Gervais Show” will be sold for $1.95 per show or $6.95 for the entire season of at least four weekly episodes, plus a free sneak preview.

“The Ricky Gervais Show revolves around the comic dialogue of Gervais, his long-time creative partner Stephen Merchant and ‘hapless producer’ Karl Pilkington,” reads a description of the show. “First launched in December 2005, the show has quickly become a global phenomenon, having gained unprecedented popularity. The show averaged more than 260,000 weekly downloads in only its first month and was recently awarded the Guinness World Record for creating the world’s most-downloaded podcast, having reached 2.9 million cumulative downloads in just over two months”

MixPod DJ mixer for iPods introduced

imagePhonic has introduced the MixPod, a new DJ mixing console for iPods. Compatible with all dockable iPods, the MixPod features dual iPod cradles, iPod navigation controls, a 3-band channel EQ with gain control, phono/line inputs for additional devices, and USB 2.0 connectivity. Pricing and availability were not provided.

“The all new Phonic MixPod gives every Disc Jockey what they require: a way to stream their iPod’s music directly into a quality, no-hassle 2-channel DJ mixer,” says Phonic. “The MixPod’s features a single iPod cradle on each input channel, allowing for real-time streaming of audio to the corresponding channel… All-in-all, the MixPod is without a doubt the most useful tool any serious -– or amateur –- DJ could pick up this year.” [via Gizmodo]

PopXpress to open second London iPod shop

PopXpress this week will open its second iPod-dedicated store in Piccadilly Circus, London. “The company is attempting to build the first UK chain of iPod-dedicated shops. Its second retail outlet will open its doors at 166 Bond Street on February 24. The company intends opening 12 stores nationwide by the end of the year,” reports Macworld UK. “The new shop occupies two floors and features a minimalist design that’s in keeping with the Apple aesthetic. Stores carry all Apple’s iPod products and a vast array of third party kit.”

Podolock iPod mini security product announced

imageThe Podolock is a new product for the iPod mini that helps secure the device to prevent theft or unauthorized use. The Podolock consists of a hard case and cable system, provides full access to the iPod, and can be used with other iPod cases. It will ship next month for $20. Cables range from $10 to $20.

“Simple, quick and secure, Podolock frames your iPod in a beautiful, acrylic case,” says the maker of the product. “Insert a cable at the top, lock to a table at your office or dorm, or attach to your car’s steering wheel and your iPod is protected from theft. Any place your iPod might be left alone for even a brief moment of time, protect it with Podolock.”

iPod Access for Mac, Windows updated

Findley Designs has released updates to its iPod Access software, which allows users to transfer files from an iPod back to a computer. iPod Access 3.7 for Mac and iPod Access 2.7 for Windows both bring support for playing video files directly from the iPod, as well as an option for ID3 Tag transfer for WAV, video and iFM files. iPod Access sells for $15.

Tunewear debuts Icewear Ultra Clear for iPod nano

imageTunewear has announced the Icewear Ultra Clear, a new version of its high-density silicone case for the iPod nano. The new transparent case comes with the company’s protective Tunefilm and sells for $13.

“Just like the rest of the Icewear series, Icewear nano Ulta Clear utilizes high density silicone as found in diving masks and our patent pending Rib-Technology to protect your iPod nano, however, this time it is crystal clear.”

Discovery Channel looking for your iPod photos, video footage

If you have photos and/or footage of you and your iPod in action, and want to get them on TV, here’s your chance. The first episode of a new Discovery Channel series (The Evolution of Portable Music Players) will be tracing the evolution of the iPod from phonographs to radios, boom boxes, Discmen, and modern digital music players. The producers of this show are looking for your high-resolution photos or video footage (beta, Quicktime, or mini dv) for possible inclusion in this episode.

If you have something handy, drop an email to [email protected] - who knows, maybe your favorite shot of you and your iPod will show up on cable TV worldwide.

iPod-using Olympians provide free publicity for Apple

iPods are being used by a number of athletes at this month’s Winter Olympics, and while Apple doesn’t pay for endorsements, the games are providing even further free advertising for the device. U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said Apple is “a sponsorship waiting to happen.”

“The biggest winner of all may have been Apple, maker of the tiny iPod that soared to glory along with snowboarder Hannah Teter,” repots the Baltimore Sun. “This Olympics, U.S. snowboarders have competed while listening to the personal music device, and skiers, speed skaters and other Olympians from all over the world have been observed listening raptly during practice and before competing. All of which makes for great press.”

“One of the lasting images of these games is going to be these snowboarders with their iPods,” said Abraham Madkour, executive editor of SportsBusiness Journal, a trade magazine that covers the sports industry. “It’s the perfect form of subconscious marketing.”

NASCAR highlights to be sold on iTunes Music Store

As expected, race fans will be able to purchase and download NASCAR Nextel Cup Series content throughout the 2006 season from Apple’s iTunes Music Store. NASCAR announced today that highlights and behind-the-scenes coverage from this year’s races, beginning with Sunday’s Daytona 500, will be available for $1.99 per video.

“NASCAR, which is the second highest-rated regular season sport on television and has seen TV audience growth of nearly 80% over the past 15 years, will produce the iTunes previews and reviews with unique content designed to drive fans to the race telecasts and complement those telecasts. In the U.S., there are 75 million NASCAR fans, including 30 million women.”

Mix: MP3 watermarks, Apple.com, BBC podcasts, Ultimate Ears

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a new MP3 watermarking technology for tracking pirated audio files in peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Apple’s website was the world’s 10th most popular online destination in January 2006, receiving just under 35 million visitors, according to Nielsen NetRatings.

The BBC plans to expand its podcast lineup and add several new shows including Radio 4’s Start the Week, Broadcasting House, Today in Parliament and Front Row.

Earphone Solutions is offering a $50 rebate on the Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5PRO earphones until Feb. 28. The company said the $50 rebate will be mailed by Ultimate Ears.

Monster cuts iCruze retail pricing

Monster has announced that its iCruze direct-connect iPod car audio solution is now available at a new low price. The main iCruze unit now retails for $70, the optional display is now $40, and additional interface connecting cables and/or interface modules range in price from $10 to $30.

“This means that a customer can put together a complete iCruze package for only $150 (that is a $280 price reduction for a complete iCruze system as compared to the previous pricing),” says Monster. “It also means that some customers who only need an iCruze and an Interface Cable, and who choose not to purchase the LCD Display can own iCruze for as low as $80.”

Monster is still running a special sale on a complete iCruze package. You can buy the kit—which includes the iCruze main unit, the LCD display module and necessary cables—for $99 directly from the company.

NASCAR offers free Daytona 500 preview on iTunes

NASCAR has made a free preview of Sunday’s Daytona 500 available on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The 20-minute video “takes you inside the world of NASCAR and the Daytona 500 in a way that’s never before been experienced,” according to the description. Interestingly, the preview is listed under a new iTunes section called “NASCAR 2006 Races,” hinting that this season’s race events could also be offered on iTunes.

“‘NASCAR Daytona 500 Preview’ delivers something for everyone. You’ll see never-before-seen footage from full-restored historical film to a first-hand look at the 2006 Daytona 500 test cars. You’ll watch exclusive interviews of veterans and rookies as they look ahead to the upcoming season. You’ll go on the track and inside the garage, where you’ll see and hear behind-the-scenes sounds from drivers and crew chiefs. And you’ll relive some of the greatest triumphs and tragedies in the host of ‘The Great American Race.’”

Mix: SigmaTel, iTunes disdain, Sprint, News Corp.

SigmaTel, which makes the chip that powers the iPod shuffle, is hopeful that it will win bigger contracts from Apple in the second half of the year.

iTunes “makes music disposable. It makes it a faceless impulse item. It steals its soul,” Victory Records founder Tony Brummel said. “Apple/iTunes do not care about independent labels or, for that matter, the record industry. Without the music industry, their site and their iPods are useless.”

In the four months since the Sprint Music Store debuted, more than 1 million tracks have now been sold. In comparison, the iTunes Music Store sold the same amount in less than a week when it launched in May 2003.

CNN/Money’s Paul La Monica looks at News Corp.‘s digital content moves and notes that it “has yet to strike an agreement with a major tech firm for video content online” and that its Fox channel is “the only one of the big four networks to not do so.”

GEAR4 announces IceBox X-Clip case for iPod nano

imageGEAR4 today announced the IceBox X-Clip, a clear hard case for the iPod nano with the ability to use special clip-on accessories. The case is currently available in two versions: the IceBox X-Clip ($22), which is the basic model with belt clip attachment, and the Ice Box X-Clip Splitter ($29), which comes with both the belt clip attachment and an interchangeable headphone splitter. GEAR4 said that it expects to deliver 10 or more X-Clip accessories during 2006, including remotes, sports armbands, battery backup packs and speakers.

iTunes phone upgrade to remove song cap? [updated]

imageOne of the biggest complaints with Motorola’s iTunes-enabled mobile phones is their 100-song cap. But Apple has apparently been listening and appears to be planning to allow users to upgrade their phone to remove the software-imposed song limit.

References in the code of the iTunes 6.0.3 update reveal a link to a hidden page on the iTunes Music Store that says: “Want more music on your mobile phone with iTunes? Upgrade now.” The upgrade process is not yet active, as several ROKR and SLVR phone owners were unsuccessful in getting their song limit raised. It’s not clear whether Apple plans to charge for the upgrade.

Update: Engadget has confirmed with Apple that “the upgrade screen exists for non-US customers, some of whom initially had caps as low as 25 songs, and brings their phones up to the 100-song limit.”

Amazon plans digital music service, branded player

Amazon.com is planning to launch a digital music service and Amazon-branded MP3 players, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The online retailer is currently finalizing deals with the major music companies and could launch the service and portable devices as soon as this summer.

“Amazon is in advanced talks with the four global music companies about a digital-music service with a range of features designed to set it apart,” reports the Journal. “Among them: Amazon-branded portable music players, designed and built for the retailer, and a subscription service that would deeply discount and preload those devices with songs, not unlike mobile phones that are included with subscription plans as part of the deal.”

The article claims that music executives “privately welcome Amazon’s plans, which they see as one of the only credible challenges to Apple’s hegemony in both digital music and portable players. Now the question is whether Amazon’s massive customer base is enough to offset a long delay in entering the online music business.”

“Amazon’s online music plans would take advantage of the company’s strong position in selling CDs and portable music players,” the Journal notes. “The online retailer sells an estimated 10% of digital music players in the U.S., including iPods, and the pending deal could hurt its relationship with Apple. If Amazon’s competing offering presented enough of a threat, Apple could even stop selling iPods on the site.”

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