Sumo Cases has introduced a new collection of leather iPod cases designed for the 2006 World Cup soccer tournament. Made for fifth-generation iPods, the new striped cases feature the flag colors of eight countries, a soccer ball patch, and hexagon-shaped stitching. The $40 cases are available in the colors of Italy, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, USA, England, and Mexico. Sumo is also offering a basic black case with a white stripe.
Apple has taken the top spot on this year’s BusinessWeek 50 list, which ranks the best performing companies of 2006. “All those little white earbuds are a bona fide cultural phenomenon—and serious business for Apple. Booming sales of its iPod music players have propelled the Cupertino (Calif.) icon to the top of our list of the best corporate performers,” says BusinessWeek. “Apple shows few signs of slowing down. Of the 42 million iPods sold since the line was introduced five years ago, 32 million were sold in 2005, including 14 million in a killer Christmas quarter. Apple’s profits leapt 216% in 2005 on a 66% jump in sales. Investors are still bullish, not only for what Steve Jobs has done, but also for what lies ahead.”
Apple’s new $99 leather iPod cases are now shipping to customers and can be found at Apple retail stores. The cases, which were announced during Apple’s special media event last month, are made from Italian leather and come in sizes to fit the iPod nano and the 30GB and 60GB fifth-generation iPods. You can check out iLounge’s review of the cases for hands-on details and photos.
Following France’s push for DRM interoperability, a report has surfaced that Denmark may be next in line to force Apple to open its FairPlay copy-protection technology used on the iTunes Music Store and iPod. Maersk and TDC, two large Denmark-based companies that run online music ventures, are reportedly speaking out in favor of such a law.
Amazon.com recently lowered iPod prices slightly, offering $20 off both the 30GB and 60GB models, and $10 off both iPod nano models.
The Associated Press notes that Apple will celebrate its 30th anniversary on April 1st and is the first to take a look back at the company’s history.
The Apple Computer vs. Apple Corps case is scheduled to begin on Wednesday at London’s High Court before iPod-owning Justice Edward Mann. Apple Corps, owned by the Beatles and their families, claims that the iTunes Music Store breaches a 1991 agreement on the companies’ use of the Apple trademark. “Any damages for this latest clash could amount to tens of millions of pounds because it concerns Apple Computer’s hugely successful iTunes Music Store and iPod,” reports the Times UK newspaper. “The court will be treated to a demonstration of an iPod, but it is unlikely to play a Beatles song.”
During a keynote address yesterday at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata divulged further plans for Virtual Console, an online download service he described as “the video game version of Apple’s iTunes music store.” Like GameTap, a subscription-based game service launched last year by Time Warner, Virtual Console will serve as a legal online download service for classic video games. However, only Nintendo’s service will feature titles from its own past consoles, as well as games from past competing platforms such as Sega’s Genesis and NEC’s TurboGrafx-16. “Between them, [Sega’s and NEC’s] systems built a library of more than a thousand different games,” said Iwata. “Of course, not all of them will be available, but the best of them will.”
The new 2007 Dodge Caliber, which will be launched with a large marketing campaign starting this Sunday, features a built-in cradle and auxiliary stereo input jack designed for the iPod and other devices. While Dodge describes the cradle as an “MP3/Cell Phone Holder,” the company clearly shows it being used with a fourth-generation iPod. The rubber-lined holder flips open from the top of the center console armrest to face the driver.
HandStands has announced a new version of its iSnug case for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. Like the iSnug Set, the hard-shelled case features an EVA foam cutout, belt loop, and a mesh pocket for earphones or cables. The iSnug Video also includes a leather case, lanyard, micro-fiber cloth, screen protector, and doubles as a stand. The iSnug Video Set is priced at $40 and is expected to be available in mid-April.
Deborah Conrad, VP and director of Team Apple at Intel, has commented on the use of an Intel chip in an iPod. “I don’t think you’re going to see anything soon,” she said. But when it comes to future Apple devices, “that’s where we get very, very excited.”
According to a recent consumer survey by Bridge Data, more than 80% of podcast downloads never make it to a portable audio player—they are listened to on a PC or deleted first.
The U.S. government is backing Apple in the company’s protest against a French law that would force it to open up its FairPlay digital rights management technology. Speaking on CNBC, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Apple needs to protect its intellectual property. “Any time something like this happens, any time that we believe that intellectual property rights are being violated, we need to speak up and in this case, the company is taking the initiative,” he said.
Mr. Smith, maker of the popular Jimi wallet, has introduced a similar product for the iPod nano. The Jimi nano case ($20) is available in six translucent colors and features interchangeable faceplates, a belt clip, and access to all controls and ports. “The case and cover each come in 6 colors, so that’s 36 possible combos,” says the company. “Aqua and Safety Orange, Ruby and Green, Clear and Magenta… whatever you fancy. And exploiting the iPod polished back we created a ‘mirror’ window, which allows you to use your nano-case to signal for help (very Macgyver), change your contact lenses, or check your smile.”
Scosche has announced its new Freestyle line of RF remotes for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. Both RF remotes offer up to a 150-foot range, the signal capability to travel through walls, and can control basic functions (play/pause, on/off, volume, track and RWD/FFD) plus the random song feature and access playlists. Both $70 remotes—the Scosche NRF remote for the iPod nano and the IPRF-Doc remote for the 5G iPod—are available in black and feature pass-through dock connector ports and audio-input jacks.
Speck Products today announced the CableGuys, “fun and functional” audio/video cables for iPods. The CableGuys come in a 3-pack that includes a home stereo cable, computer speaker cable, and a headphone splitter for $25. An iPod-to-USB cable is available for $20. Speck also announced its Mystery Case of the Day promotion. “Every day, Speck will be shipping a different mystery case valued at $20-$35,” the accessory maker said. “Take a change and surprise yourself with one of Speck’s great iPod cases.”
Universal Pictures has launched a new service in the UK that will sell digital downloads of movies—one for a computer and one for a portable device—and a DVD that will arrive in the mail.
Phone maker BenQ claims that Apple has been talking to various Taiwanese manufacturers the past few months about building an iPod-based cell phone. “An iPod phone is definitely coming,” a BenQ executive reportedly told SmartHouse. “BenQ will not be making it as we are in competition with Apple, however several of our suppliers have been approached to manufacture parts. Among manufacturers in Taiwan it is common knowledge. The issue for many is the availability of parts if the phone takes off.”
Marware has introduced a new dock/stand for Apple’s iPod nano. Available in black or white, the Marware Stand can be used to sync your nano with a computer or to connect the device to your home stereo. It features a USB cable and two line-out ports. The Marware Stand sells for $25. “Designed specifically for iPod nano, the Marware Stand provides a perfect fit,” says the company. “Its sleek curves showcase the nano to perfection, while keeping the screen in easy view. Whether syncing your nano or using it with your home theatre system, the Marware Stand enhances your iPod experience.”
Only a day after French lawmakers voted to approve a new bill that could force Apple to open its copy-protection technology used on the iPod and iTunes, the company announced a collaboration with one of France’s leading universities to provide iPods and other technology for educational use. HEC, the French institution, will use fifth-generation iPods loaded with content and distribute lectures and other curriculum online.
Wrappers today introduced a new line of iPod cases for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. “We’ve teamed up with luxury car interior designers Alcantara to bring you an exclusive range of iPod slip covers hot off the catwalk at the Geneva Motor Show,” the accessory maker explains. The new cases are available in six colors—sunset orange, midnight blue, cranberry, oatmeal, otter grey, and smokey black—for $26.
iSkin has announced two new iPod nano products—the iSkin DuoBand and iSkin Slims. The DuoBand is an armband/hard case that has an outer polycarbonate layer and an inner silicone layer of protection. It comes with either a clear or pink skin and an armband in black or pink with a reflective strip. The iSkin Slims are silicone cases that come in a 5-pack of various colors. They can also be paired with the iSkin DuoBand. Both are available immediately for $30 each.