Chicago’s Q101 radio station is giving away iTunes gift cards to anyone they spot carrying an iPod. “Now thru August 3rd, our ‘iTunes spotters’ will be running around Chicago giving away iTunes gift cards featuring over 20 Lollapalooza bands. If you’re spotted around town with your white earbuds and your iPod, you’ll get free a Lollapalooza music card from Q101 and iTunes.”
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave British Prime Minister Tony Blair a 60GB iPod preloaded with songs about California during Blair’s visit last weekend to Silicon Valley. The iPod was inscribed: “Presented to the Right Honorable Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California.” [via MDN]
According to a new report from Research and Markets, sales of iPod and MP3 accessories have grown from $50 million in 2001 to $2 billion in 2006 because of “strong sales of MP3 players, increased availability of accessories, lifestyle changes among consumers and continuing product development.” The study found that 75% of respondents have headphones, 49% own a car audio accessory and 48% own a case or USB power adapter. Research and Markets said respondents who own iPod or MP3 accessories spent an average of $90 on their last accessory purchase, with “male respondents, those with income over $50K, married respondents and over-35s all showing higher levels of average spend.” The firm estimates that there are currently over 200 suppliers of accessories for the iPod, with “more companies making universal accessories, but due to the immaturity of the market, few of these have developed significant awareness among consumers.”
Gemini DJ has introduced the iTrax Mixing Console for iPods. The iTrax features dual angled iPod docking cradles, USB connectivity, composite video output, and two phono/line inputs. Each iPod channel features 3-band rotary EQ controls with gain and cut options. The $230 unit also offers a microphone input with 2-band EQ controls, master volume control, cue section, and a user-replaceable X-Fader. Gemini said an enhanced model called the iTrax2 will be released later this year, adding touch-sensitive jog wheels and other new features.
Apple today announced that more than 200 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from its European iTunes Music Stores in just over two years. The company also said that its European music catalog now includes more than 3 million songs. The iTunes Music Store was launched in the UK, France and Germany in June 2004, and now operates in 17 European countries. “The number of songs downloaded and purchased from the iTunes Music Stores in Europe have tripled in the past year from 50 million to 200 million,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We’re thrilled that music fans in Europe have shown such enthusiasm for the artists and exclusive music content found only on iTunes and would like to thank them for making iTunes such a success.”
Altec Lansing has introduced the M602 iPod audio system. The M602 features a built-in iPod dock, four full-range neodymium speakers, digital amplification, and XdB bass-enhancement technology. The $200 system also offers a wall-mountable design, composite video output, a wireless remote, and an MP3 cradle adapter for non-docking iPods and other devices. “It’s the complete package: Striking good looks, plus rich, clear sound from its four custom-designed speakers,” says Altec Lansing. “What’s more, the M602 is surprisingly affordable, so you can still send the kids to college. Just place your iPod into the M602’s built-in dock and enjoy.” Check out our First Look at the M602 for hands-on photos and details.
Coca-Cola and Apple will launch a European iTunes promotion this month, giving away 70 million songs in the UK and Germany. “The alliance with Apple signals an end to the group’s ambition to develop its own presence in the online music market,” reports the Financial Times. “The company launched its own music download site—MyCokeMusic—in Europe in 2004 but the service was closed this month amid fierce competition from iTunes and others… Apple declined to say whether its deal with Coke could be extended to the US and elsewhere or whether it precluded further promotions with Pepsi.” The talks between Coke and Apple were first reported in June.
Secure-It has introduced the Pod Safe, a new locking iPod security case that “prevents theft or loss while commuting, traveling, at school, at the gym, on the beach, in the office, or practically anywhere that you listen to your iPod.” The Pod Safe is made of a PolyCarbon-strengthened ABS material and features a resettable four-digit combination lock with vinyl coated steel security cable to secure your iPod. The Pod Safe is available in either black or white finishes for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. Both cases sell for $40 each.
Apple has replied to criticism of its iTunes DRM (digital rights management) policy, meeting the August 1st deadline set by consumer rights agencies in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Consumer Council of Norway said it is still reviewing the letter—which could determine the future of the iTunes Music Store in the three Scandinavian countries—and hasn’t yet released it to the public. The Norwegian council was the first to file a complaint with Apple, requesting that the company make changes to its iTunes Music Store terms of agreement and to defend its DRM policy. The council said Apple violates the Norwegian Copyright Act because iTunes-purchased songs can’t be played on other devices. Consumer rights agencies in Denmark and Sweden followed suit.
The iSoundCap is a baseball-style cap designed to hold an iPod nano or iPod shuffle. “The ingenuity of this cap places the iPod so that there are no wires hanging below the head,” says the maker of the iSoundCap. “Whether enjoying your music while being physically active or just relaxing, the wires will never get in your way and the iPod is safely tucked away. The design is extremely user friendly, allowing for easy access as well as control over the iPod during any activity.” The iSoundCap is priced at $30.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Craig Berger believes that PortalPlayer will be the multimedia chip supplier in the next-generation video iPod, despite the company recently losing the iPod nano business. “It is possible that PortalPlayer will retain its socket in the soon-to-be-released Video iPod given Apple’s design schedule constraints, likely Video iPod device processing requirements, and the execution risk Apple faces should it change processor suppliers,” Berger said. “We believe nVidia’s and Broadcom’s video processing solutions are probably not well suited to drive both the video processing, audio processing, and applications processing within the Video iPod. Also, a new operating system would have to be written and debugged very quickly. Finally, we think that any savings in battery life is minimal versus the current solution. We still believe Apple is focused on delivering best-of-breed products with cutting edge features, and is not overly focused on cost reduction for its high end products.”
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) and Apple have announced that programming from CNN, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim is now available on the iTunes Music Store. The new content includes episodes of the award-winning documentary series “CNN Presents,” Cartoon Network’s “Johnny Bravo,” and Adult Swim’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “The Venture Bros.” and “Sealab 2021.” Like all other TV shows on iTunes, the TBS offerings are priced at $1.99 per episode.