Apple sold more than 125,000 movie downloads in the first week that full-length movies were available from the iTunes Store. Disney accounted for all of the movie downloads, which Disney CEO Robert Iger said brought in $1 million in revenue for the company. Apple added 75 movies from Disney and three of its studios—Pixar, Miramax Films and Touchstone Pictures—to the iTunes Store last week following a special event in San Francisco. Iger said he expects the iTunes movie downloads to generate $50 million in added revenue during the first year.
Following last week’s new iPod introductions, Apple has added a slew of refurbished iPods to the online Apple Store and substantially cut previous refurb pricing. Apple is currently offering the original 2GB iPod nano (both white and black) for $99, the original 4GB iPod mini (gold, silver, blue, pink and green) for $99, and the second-generation 6GB iPod mini (silver, blue and pink) for $129. The company is also offering original fifth-generation iPods at a discount. The 30GB model is priced at $179 and the 60GB model is now $229. Apple Certified Refurbished products are pre-owned Apple products that “undergo Apple’s stringent refurbishment process prior to being offered for sale.” All Apple Certified Refurbished products are covered by Apple’s one-year warranty.
SendStation Systems has kicked off the final days of its current iTunes promotion with a new offer—purchase a smartCharge iPod car charger for $24.95 and receive 50 free downloads from the iTunes Store, a $49.50 value alone. The offer is available to US customers while supplies last.
mStation Audio has announced that its 2.1 Stereo Orb will soon be available in new colors to compliment the new iPod nano line. In addition to the currently available black and white, the Orb will come in silver, green, pink, and blue this holiday season. The Orb speaker system (iLounge Rating: B) offers 30 watts of power, a 10-button remote, and can be used to sync your iPod with your computer. mStation said it does not yet have production photos of the new colored Orbs.
According to data from the NPD Group, Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi speaker system accounts for 7.8% of all iPod audio systems sold, putting it behind products from Bose, Logitech and i-Fusion. The Hi-Fi ranks second only to Bose in revenue share, with 14.5%. “Together, Bose and Apple are pulling in half the money consumers are spending on iPod speakers,” reports Business 2.0’s Jon Fortt. “Not bad. Apple took a gamble that it could differentiate itself and make money by selling the priciest set of iPod speakers out there. So far, it’s working. Of course, it might work even better at $299, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for Apple to lower the price on this one.”
iMojo has announced its nano Sweats, a new armband for first and second generation iPod nanos. Made from stretch cotton terry-cloth and designed to be worn on the forearm, the nano Sweats feature a rubber iPod cradle, clear vinyl cover, and a cable management silicone cleat. The armbands come in black or white in 2-packs for $25. They’re available in a one-size fits most and XL for forearms larger than 12 inches in circumference.
Beleaguered subscription music company Napster said it is considering selling the company. “There’s been interest by third parties to acquire the company,” said Napster CEO Chris Gorog, adding that other proposals have included strategic partnerships or joint ventures. “That activity has heated up as we’ve gotten traction with a lot of our new products… There’s been a lot of speculation” about which companies or industries would be interested in Napster, Gorog said. “Any company that is executing at a high level in digital media will likely have at least a conceptual interest in looking at Napster.” Napster was originally an illegal music sharing site before being shut down in 2001. It was purchased by Roxio and relaunched in 2003. Napster said as of June 30, it had 512,000 paid subscribers, down from 606,000 in the prior quarter.
Mophie has announced the release of Knox, a new aluminum wallet/case for the second-generation iPod nano. “Knox holds essentials securely—credit cards, cash, and nano—yet still lets you access your iPod connections,” says Mophie. “You can still slide your iPod in or out of all mophie RELO accessories securely because the Knox comes with a RELO-ready Radura case.” Pricing and availability was not announced.
A new study by Jupiter Research found that only one in five European iPod owners regularly buys songs online and that iPod owners on average buy only 20 tracks a year from Apple’s iTunes Store. “About 83 percent of iPod owners throughout Europe do not regularly buy digital music, the study found, although they are more apt to do so than owners of other portable media devices,” reports Reuters. “The study found that 30 percent of iPod owners illegally swap songs using file-sharing networks and another 23 percent listen to Web-based audio files for free legally. iPod owners also were found in the survey of about 4,000 consumers across Europe to be much more likely to buy CDs online than they were to buy downloads.”
ezGear has announced the ezSkin nano G2, its first case for Apple’s new second-generation iPod nano. The silicone case, which comes in black, white and pink, features a removable belt clip, Click Wheel protector, screen protector, and neck strap. The ezSkin nano G2 is priced at $25. The ezSkin nano G2 3 Pack, with all three color cases, is available for $35.
Apple’s pricing of the new iPod models shows the company is looking for better profit margins and not market share gains, according to analysts at market researcher Gartner. The analysts said the second-generation iPod shuffle could have been priced closer to $49, since the cost of materials amounts to around $30. Similarly, Apple could have also priced its new iPod nano models cheaper, according to the analysts. They claim the 8GB model has $130 in materials, the 4GB has $90 worth of materials, and the 2GB version has only $70 in materials. “Apple is in a secure position atop the portable media player market and has decided to strategically focus on its margin this time,” the analysts said.
MicroOptical has introduced a new version of its myvu video eyewear headset designed to work specifically with Apple’s video-enabled iPods. The myvu Made for iPod edition ($400) is is compatible with the 30GB, 60GB and new 80GB iPods, and offers a viewing experience comparable to a 27-inch screen from six feet away, according to the company. The new myvu model features noise-reducing earbuds, wired remote, protective case, an ultra-thin battery pack for six hours of viewing time, and connects via the dock connector port.The myvu Made for iPod edition will be available in “late fall 2006.”
Newsweek reports that Apple is in talks with Google to offer videos from the search giant’s online video service on Apple’s forthcoming iTV media device. In addition to streaming videos, photos and music, the iTV will also be able to stream content from the web, such as movie trailers, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ demo of the device. “Is it possible that when iTV ships next year, you may also be able to choose a menu item called Google Video, and then zip through the best of the thousands of user-submitted videos on the search giant’s service? Google’s consumer product chief, Marissa Mayer, tells me that indeed, the two companies are engaged in talks,” reports Newsweek’s Steven Levy. It should be noted that Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently joined Apple’s board of directors.
Kensington today announced two new iPod-compatible speaker systems—the FX 300 Speaker To Go and the SX 3000R Speakers.
The FX300 Speaker To Go ($30) is a lightweight protective case with a built-in speaker and exterior volume control. The splash resistant case features speaker technology from NXT and storage space for earbuds, keys, cash and credit cards. It connects to the headphone port of any MP3 player.
The SX 3000R ($170) is an all-in-one speaker system featuring NXT flat-panel speakers, FM radio, and a wireless remote control. The SX 3000R also features a built-in alarm clock and sleep timer, and has an Apple Universal dock to fit all dock connector iPods.
After persistent compatibility problems with Microsoft’s “Plays for Sure” format, RealNetworks has teamed up with SanDisk to offer a portable music player that works seamlessly with the company’s Rhapsody service. The Sansa Rhapsody will be based on SanDisk’s e200 player, which comes in 2GB to 8GB sizes and retails for $140 to $250. The player has a layer of RealNetworks’ own software, including copy-protection technology, to ensure compatibility.
Proporta has announced two upcoming cases for the second-generation iPod nano and one new case for the second-generation iPod shuffle. The Alu-Crystal Case for the new nano is made out of aluminum and crystal-clear polycarbonate, while the Silicone Dual case for the nano features two layers of impact protection and color. The Aluminum Sleeve for the second-generation shuffle is a simple aluminum case available in five colors. Pricing and availability were not announced.
Following recent, separate announcements by SanDisk and Microsoft that certain prominent iPod accessory makers would be producing accessories for their iPod competitors Sansa and Zune, iLounge has confirmed that two of the iPod’s top supporters were listed as SanDisk or Microsoft development partners without having actually agreed to develop any accessories.
Apple’s pricing on the updated fifth-generation iPods has caused Microsoft to rethink the price point for its Zune media player, according to one analyst. “Microsoft formally announced its Zune portable media player, with specs in-line with Toshiba FCC filings. However, pricing and timing were not revealed likely because our sources indicate that Apple’s aggressive pricing at $249 for its new 30GB iPod took Microsoft by surprise,” American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note today. “We believe Microsoft is re-thinking its pricing strategy amid potential wider losses to stay competitive in the marketplace. We remain underwhelmed with the much-hyped Zune, which is essentially a repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat, with limited differentiation vs. existing Windows Media devices.” Microsoft was widely expected to announce a $299 retail price this week, but following Apple’s price cut on Tuesday on the 30GB iPod, the company declined to offer pricing or a release date.
Speck Products has announced two new leather cases for the second-generation iPod nano. The Executive case features black leather and a belt clip, while the Lady case features pink leather and a wrist strap. Both offer detail stitching and a flip-over front cover. The cases are available immediately for $35 each. Speck said it plans to follow this announcement with an extended assortment of cases next week.
Microsoft said yesterday that it plans to introduce a Zune-branded cell phone. “A Zune phone is definitely part of the future of this brand,” Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune, told reporters. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s J. Allard says the iPod is “the Pong of digital music.”
Marware has announced that its C.E.O. line of leather iPod cases is compatible with the new second-generation iPod nano. These products include the C.E.O. Classic, C.E.O Billfold Wallet, and C.E.O. Card Wallet. In addition, the Sportsuit Sleeve and Sportsuit Safari cases also fit the new nano.