A 17-year-old Colorado teenager blames his iPod for being struck by lightning while mowing the lawn. Jason Bunch says the current from the strike traveled through the headphone wires of his iPod, burning his ears, cheeks and side. The Denver post reports: “The wounds follow the line of his iPod, from his ears down his right side to his hip, where he was carrying the device. The iPod has a hole in the back, and the earbuds dissolved into green threads. Bunch and his mother believe the iPod acted as an antenna, drawing the lightning to him. There were tall pine trees nearby that didn’t get hit.” Weather experts, however, say that is unlikely. “There is no scientific evidence to show that lightning is ‘attracted’ to items like an iPod. However, if someone wearing earbuds is struck, current may travel along the wires into the ears,” said Gregory Stewart of the Denver-based Lightning Reference Center. “There are documented cases of lightning traveling through wired telephones and killing the users.” [via Gizmodo]
Kiwali has announced a new collection of its Deco adhesive covers for the fifth-generation iPod. Covering the front and back of the iPod, each 5G Deco cover is printed on Naster polypropylene in one of eight designs. The $12 covers are repositionable and provide protection from scratches and everyday use. “The Kiwali Deco for 5G iPods is an easy and affordable way to accessorize the video iPod to reflect personality, mood, or taste,” says the company.
Apple has disclosed that two derivative lawsuits have been filed against its current and former officers and directors relating to the company’s awarding of stock option grants. The suits were filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and the Superior Court for Santa Clara County. Last week, Apple proactively announced that it had discovered irregularities in the issuance of certain stock option grants. The company is conducting an independent investigation into the matter and said it is currently evaluating its response to the lawsuits.
Laid-off employees at National Semiconductor have been asked to return the iPods given to them last month as part of a company-wide reward. On June 12th, National Semiconductor announced that it was giving each of its 8,500 employees a 30GB fifth-generation iPod for having an exceptionally profitable year. The Star-Telegram now reports: “Last week, the company laid off 35 employees at its Arlington plant. To the surprise of some at the plant, the laid-off workers were asked to give back their high-tech toys… One of the 35 laid-off workers said many employees at the Arlington plant were under the impression that the iPods were theirs to keep. Some had sold them or given them as gifts, according to the caller. Employees who leave the company can return the device or pay ‘fair market value’ for it.” [via CNET News.com]
Apple and Creative Technology said in court documents that they “remain open to the possibility” of ending their legal battles over patent infringement. In a July 3rd joint court filing, the two companies said they were in negotiations for the licensing of Creative’s patent to Apple six months before the suit was filed and were “open” to reaching an agreement. “The parties will remain open to the possibility of settlement,” the joint report said. “No specific settlement discussions are planned.” As previously reported, Apple and Creative are suing each other in California, Texas and Wisconsin over various patents relating to the iPod and Zen audio players. The International Trade Commission is also investigating complaints made by each company.
Bloomberg News has uncovered new details of Microsoft’s forthcoming iPod rival and iTunes Music Store clone. The Microsoft-branded portable music and video player will reportedly be out by Christmas, featuring a wireless Internet connection to download music without a computer. Bloomberg says the device is being developed under the supervision of Xbox executives Robbie Bach and J. Allard. In addition, Microsoft is said to have hired music industry executive Chris Stephenson to meet with music and Hollywood companies about licensing content for the Microsoft digital media store. Bloomberg says Microsoft has already met with EMI Group, Universal Music Group, NBC, Fox, and CBS.
The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret have penned an informative digital music primer. “Many folks—even some who own iPods and other players—are still confused over how legal digital music works,” they write. “So here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to the digital music world, in question-and-answer form. We’ve included the questions we are asked most frequently, plus a few other topics.”
Universal Music says it plans to price back-catalog CDs in line with their digital versions. The Guardian reports: “Universal is to split its CDs into three price and product ranges in Europe to revitalise a format that accounts for more than 90% of record sales. The most significant change is the introduction of a ‘basic’ CD for older recordings, such as the Killers’ Hot Fuss, that will wrap the album in a card case with no sleeve notes.”
iLuv has unveiled a new device that allows users to record videos directly to a fifth-generation iPod from from any video source (TV, DVD player, camcorder, etc.). The iLuv i180 iPod dock features four recording time settings—30 min, 60 min, 120 min, 180 min—and basic record/stop and timer buttons. After a video is recorded, it can be found and played on the iPod under Videos > Video Podcasts > iLuv. The i180 also charges a docked iPod and has composite AV (RCA) and S-Video connections. The i180 is expected to be available in mid-August for $200.
Apple has updated the iTunes Music Store’s podcast directory with a new set of podcast categories. In an email sent to podcasters, Apple said the revamp will affect the way a podcast is listed in the directory, and that podcast feeds should be updated to match the new category structure. “Today we launched a revised set of categories for podcasts listed in the iTunes Music Store,” Apple said. “We’re sending you this email to let you know how to change your podcast feed to accommodate these changes. The revised categories and subcategories are listed at the bottom of this message. Please take the time to change your podcast feed as soon as possible. Please note that we will support the use of the old category names for the next few months, so there is no immediate deadline for making these changes.”
HandStands has announced the latest addition to its iSnug line—the iSnug Accessory Case. The new case offers protection for cables, the iPod power brick, and popular iPod accessories like Griffin Technology’s iTrip. Like the original iSnug, the $20 case features a hard outer-shell and interior EVA foam padding. The iSnug Accessory Case is available immediately.
Despite word from Foxconn that Apple has completed its audit of the Chinese iPod factory, Apple says it continues to investigate the working conditions. “We are still investigating the working conditions at Foxconn’s manufacturing plant in Longhua,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling. “This is a thorough audit, which includes employee working and living conditions, interviews of employees and managers, compliance with overtime and wage regulations, and other areas as necessary to insure adherence to Apple’s supplier code of conduct. Apple’s supplier code of conduct sets the bar higher than accepted industry standards and we take allegations of noncompliance very seriously.”
Last week’s news that Apple may delay the release of new iPods has memory chip makers worried that the NAND flash market could take a hit.
The premiere episode of Spike TV’s Blade: The Series is available from the iTunes Music Store as a free download.