Apple will not appeal the recent court decision that blocked its efforts to reveal the source who leaked product information to Apple enthusiast websites. CNET News.com reports: “The company’s deadline to continue a legal battle to find out who leaked the information to independent online journalists has passed, and Apple acknowledged in a brief court filing this week that it will not take its fight to the California Supreme Court. On May 26, a state appeals court rejected Apple’s attempt to send a subpoena to obtain records and archived e-mail from Jason O’Grady, PowerPage.org’s creator, and Kasper Jade, the pseudonymous publisher and editor-in-chief of AppleInsider.”
During CNBC’s “On The Money” this evening, sports reporter Darren Rovell provided the first look at the new Nike+iPod Sports Kit, saying he was “very impressed with it” and that it “could change the running world.” Following a first-hand test of the kit, Rovell proclaimed that it could “kill treadmills and membership at gyms” and “really change the way people run and how people think about running.” According to Rovell, the iPod nano was chosen for Nike+iPod support because the majority of nano owners use it to work out, with Apple’s Greg Joswiak noting that the nano is the most popular iPod model. A Nike exec added that the kit will work with 4 million shoes by the end of the year. Also during the CNBC segment, it was revealed that Apple and Nike plan to spend “no money” on advertising the kit and will “rely solely on buzz.” Besides launches at Nike and Apple Stores tomorrow, the only additional marketing planned for the device is its use by Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in his preparation for the upcoming New York City Marathon.
Apple and Nike have announced that the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a $29 wireless sport accessory for iPod nanos, will be available in Apple and Niketown retail stores starting tomorrow, July 13, 2005. Originally announced in late May, the Sport Kit consists of a shoe-mounted transmitter and iPod nano-mounted receiver that communicate wirelessly to store performance data and provide audio feedback for runners. A pair of new Nike+ sneakers ($80-100), such as the company’s simultaneously-released Air Zoom Moire+ or Air Zoom Plus+, is required to properly mount the transmitter; four additional Nike+ styles will be available by the end of July. Apple and Nike have already added Nike+ features to iTunes and the iTunes Music Store in preparation for the release of the Sport Kit, enabling users to download run-ready music and upload results to a new Nikeplus.com website for global comparisons and tracking.
Podcasts are gaining a foothold among U.S. web users, according Nielsen/NetRatings. The market research firm said today that 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population, or 9.2 million web users, have recently downloaded an audio podcast. Nielsen said 4.0 percent, or 5.6 million web users, have recently downloaded a video podcast. “These figures put the podcasting population on a par with those who publish blogs, 4.8 percent, and online daters, 3.9 percent,” the firm notes. “However, podcasting is not yet nearly as popular as viewing and paying bills online, 51.6 percent, or online job hunting, 24.6 percent.”
Delta Entertainment has produced a collection of DVD titles that come with an extra disc pre-loaded with the movie or TV show already encoded for video-enabled iPods. The front of the DVD packaging says it includes a “video iPod ready disc,” which has video files that you can “Drag and drop straight to your iPod video.” The 10 titles—which appear to be made up partially of public domain content—include: Dragnet, Alfred Hitchcock, Timeless Movie Classics, Bonanza, Real Cowboy Movies, One Step Beyond, The Lucy Show, Cartoon Megapack, Beyond Kong, and Sherlock Holmes Collection. All of the DVDs sell for $7 each from Amazon.com.
After offering confirmation of recent reports that Microsoft will release an iPod-competitive media player called Zune, representatives of iPod accessory manufacturers have disclosed to iLounge that the Redmond, Washington-based company has contacted them regarding potential accessory licensing and compatibility plans for the device, similar to Apple’s Made For iPod program. Like all current iPods except for the iPod shuffle, Zune will feature a proprietary expansion port that Microsoft will allow companies to accessorize at a lower rate than the Made For iPod program, and one which a source suggests will likely lead to widespread iPod industry third-party support for the new device.
Additionally, iLounge has heard that Zune will most likely follow Apple’s recent decision - as seen in the upcoming Nike+iPod Sport Kit - to use some form of proprietary wireless communication technology, eschewing the open Bluetooth standard in favor of one developed at least in part by Microsoft. As previously reported, the Nike+iPod Sport Kit uses an Apple-developed version of 802.11, which may offer bandwidth and other benefits over the various flavors of Bluetooth, but could lock third-party developers out from creating compatible accessories. It is unclear whether Microsoft’s technology, which reportedly enables music “sharing” between multiple Zune users, will resemble Apple’s in all regards, but it will likely be available to third-party developers for accessorization. A recent competing music player, MusicGremlin’s Gremlin MG-1000, already uses the open 802.11b standard for its wireless functionality, a decision which enables the device to connect to existing Wi-Fi home and hotspot network locations. Future digital music players may support one or more 802.11 standards to guarantee both Wi-Fi network and proprietary accessory compatibility.
iBuddiez (formerly PodBuddies) has announced its latest handmade creations—the Silhouette Boy and Girl iPod stands. The resin stands, which are themed after Apple’s famous iPod commercials, hold any iPod while charging and syncing through a small opening. Each silhouette stand is 7-inches high by 4-inches wide and sells for $30.
Speck Products today announced its new Active Sport line of fitness-inspired iPod cases. The new Active Sport Armband is made of a breathable mesh material and features a neoprene enclosure and an adjustable Velcro strap. The ActiveSport Case is a light-weight case with caribeener clip. Available for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano, both products feature clear screen protectors and reflective material for better night-time visibility. The Active Sport Armband ($35) is available immediately, while the Active Sport basic case ($25) will ship later this month.
Marware has announced a new version of its C.E.O. Classic case for the special edition U2 iPod. The new black leather case features red side accents and stitching, and sells for $35. Like the original C.E.O. Classic, the case comes with two removable lids—one with a storage pocket for earbuds, and one with a view of the screen and play–through controls. The C.E.O. Classic also features a removable belt clip and a clear vinyl screen protector.
Further interesting details and the first alleged picture of Microsoft’s “iPod killer” were leaked this week. Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley, citing a source close to the project, claims the Microsoft device is part of “a complete line of Xbox-branded digital-media products, including a device that plays media, a software media player and an online media service.” He says the project is being referred to internally at Microsoft by the code name “Argo.” Gizmodo, however, received a tip claiming that the Microsoft player was code-named “Zune” and said that it wasn’t likely to have gaming features. Meanwhile, Engadget scored the first purported photo of the device, which features a vertically oriented 4:3 aspect screen and iPod-like controls and styling.
Apple said today that Yoshiaki Sakito, its vice president of marketing in Japan, has stepped down. “Sakito has been credited with leading a successful marketing push for Apple’s iPod portable digital music player in Japan,” reports AP. “The iPod has been a big success in Japan as it has in the rest of the world, dominating the market. Sakito was the most visible executive in the iPod’s Japan push, and the Nikkei said his departure highlights divisions with the managerial ranks.” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, will replace Sakito until a successor is named.
Kensington has introduced the world’s first RDS FM transmitter for iPods. The Kensington RDS FM transmitter/car charger allows an RDS-enabled car stereo to display song and artist information transmitted from a fifth-generation iPod or iPod nano. “Our research indicates that over 80% of all new cars being sold in the US include RDS enabled stereos,” notes Kensington. “RDS is a hugely popular feature and is quickly becoming mainstream. The new Kensington RDS FM Transmitter is the first to allow iPod consumers to take advantage of this exciting car stereo technology.” The device also features ClearFM technology, simultaneous charging of your iPod, three station pre-sets, and a black and brushed aluminum design. The Kensington RDS FM Transmitter will be available this month for $90.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes we won’t see the next generation iPod nano until sometime this Fall, and that the new model may sport a new magnesium-based enclosure. Wu says the new nano is facing transition issues due to a move to an SOC (system-on-a-chip) architecture. “In terms of timing, we continue to believe calendar Q4 is most likely, specifically October and at the earliest, late Q3, meaning the 2H of September,” he says. Corroborating a similar report earlier today, Wu says the new nanos may sport a new magnesium-based casing. “We believe this new casing will improve scratch-resistance, durability, and help lower Apple’s support and warranty costs,” he says.
Apple plans to use an iPod mini-like aluminum casing on the next generation iPod nano, according a report by AppleInsider. In an effort to cut down on scratching, Apple has been “experimenting with aluminum anodized enclosures similar to those used in the company’s iPod mini,” the site claims. Apple has reportedly “committed to the transition away from the nano’s polycarbonate-coated shell and towards aluminum enclosures.” AppleInsider says the new casing is expected to debut in “color variations similar to those used with the iPod mini.”
Although U.S. album sales were down 4.2 percent in the first half of the year, digital music sales skyrocketed 77 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures. “Nearly 281 million digital singles were purchased through July 2, compared to 158.8 million in the time frame last year,” reports AP. “More than 14 million full-album downloads were purchased in the first six months of this year, more than double the 6.5 million bought in the first half of 2005. The growth of online music purchases is a mixed blessing for recording companies, however. Such sales often come at the expense of more profitable album sales as music fans opt to cherry pick a few songs online instead of purchasing a whole album.”
A recent drop in NAND flash memory prices could indicate that Apple’s rumored 6GB and 8GB iPod nanos may not be introduced until November. “Apple’s upcoming 6 Gigabyte and 8 Gigabyte nano will be on the shelves in November rather than September,” Baird analyst Tristan Gerra said.
Following its much-publicized iDon’t campaign, SanDisk has launched a new mascot to promote its Sansa digital media player—the Lil’ Monsta. The company describes the creation as “a creature with a beastly appetite for music, video and images.”
Winners have been announced for iLounge’s most recent contests: Blog the Book XL and iPods Around the World #4000. Winning the first place Geneva Lab Model XL speaker system ($1075) is James Oliver, United Kingdom, with Leopold Plassart of Nantes, France winning the second place prize of a Geneva Lab Model L speaker ($599). A third place, randomly selected winner, Johnathon Schlemmer of Overland Park, Kansas, also won a Model L speaker, all courtesy of Geneva Lab.
Our second contest awarded a custom-colorized iPod nano to the person who submitted the 4000th photograph to our iPods Around the World photo gallery. The winning photo was submitted by Nathan Wong of Taipei, Taiwan, who sent in a photo of a 4G iPod in Los Altos, California, birthplace of Apple Computer. Nathan picked a jet black body with Ferrari red click wheel.
Congratulations to all of our winners! Our 100,000th validated forum member countdown is still underway, with a winner to be announced in the near future.
Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster has put together a new report ranking the certainty of current Apple rumors. The analyst outlined potential products into three categories and expected release dates: almost certain (in the next 6-12 months), likely (in the next 9-18 months), and a stretch (in the next 12-18 months). Munster ranks the likelihood of both feature-length films on the iTunes Music Store and an Apple iPhone to be “almost certain.” Munster said he expects iTunes movies by the end of 2006, and an “iPod with cellphone capability” within the next 12 months. Under his “likely” rumors, Munster lists the “real” video iPod, which he expects as early as this holiday season. Finally, Munster calls speculation of both in-flight iTunes and advertisements in iTunes “a “stretch.”
As part of the launch for its forthcoming iPod rival, Microsoft reportedly plans to give consumers free, compatible versions of songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store. The ploy would allow music fans to make the switch from the iPod and iTunes to the Microsoft player and Windows Media-based online store without losing previously purchased music. “This way you won’t have to pay twice for your music, which is a huge barrier for Microsoft to attract users to their service,” Gizmodo reports. “If you’ve got $1000 worth of music in your iPod, why would you change to something that required you to buy it all again? This move makes sense.” Also, like the recently announced MusicGremlin device, Microsoft’s offering is said to let device owners wirelessly connect to another owner’s player and share music. Meanwhile, Microsoft remains coy. “The stories you are seeing are based on speculation and rumors and, as such, we didn’t participate,” Microsoft said in a statement. “We don’t have anything to announce at this time.”
One analyst believes that Apple will introduce a wireless sixth-generation iPod this Fall to counter the debut of the much-rumored portable Microsoft device. “Apple has stated that ease of use is a key element of the iPod, so wireless functionality is an obvious next step for the product line,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note provided to iLounge. “Apple has also stated that the pace of iPod innovation will not change. Historically, that pace has been about two new iPods per year, but Apple has yet to release a new iPod this year. Based on these two factors, we expect a new wireless iPod this Fall.” As reported earlier, Microsoft is reportedly prepping a wireless audio and video player, which is expected to be out before Christmas. “Microsoft is rich with resources to compete with Apple. We do not believe, however, that the yet-to-be-seen Microsoft offering will be a worthy opponent for the iPod,” Munster said.