iLike.com today launched a beta version of its social music discovery service targeted at iTunes users. “iLike helps people discover new music and share their listening experience with friends,” explains the company. “The iLike Sidebar for iTunes complements Apple’s popular media player with a ‘buddy list’ and features for music sharing and discovery. The iLike website gives users a profile of their music listening habits and helps them explore the music libraries of friends. iLike also provides personalized recommendations of free MP3 downloads from almost 200,000 independent artists, drawn from GarageBand.com, the company’s first website.”
Apple’s iPod will continue to dominate the portable media device market despite the introduction of Microsoft’s Zune player and the proliferation of music phones, according to a JupiterResearch report. “Apple shows no signs of losing momentum, having conditioned customers to expect and adopt regular upgrades, as well as defined targeted use cases with optimized functionality,” said Michael Gartenberg of JupiterResearch. “Despite the coming of Zune, the return of closed-loop digital music service-device combinations, and music phones on the horizon, the iPod should not lose significant market share in the next 12 to 18 months.” Also of note, JupiterResearch found that only 11% of customers surveyed said the Zune’s wireless features were important to them. “Zune version one isn’t going to have a very big impact on the market,” said JupiterResearch analyst David Card. “There’s nothing on the horizon that looks like a game changer.”
Jon Lech Johansen, a hacker also known as “DVD Jon,” says he has cracked Apple’s FairPlay digital music copy-protection technology and plans to license the code to others. The Associated Press reports: “Unlike his previous work, which he usually posts for free, the Norway native plans to capitalize on his efforts through his Redwood Shores-based DoubleTwist Ventures, said the company’s only other employee, managing director Monique Farantzos. An unnamed client will soon use the technology so its copy-protected content will be playable on iPods, she said, declining to give any specifics.”
XtremeMac today announced a new version of its MicroShield for Apple’s second-generation iPod nano. Constructed of impact-resistant hard plastic, the crystal clear case features a soft seal closure, built-in screen protection, a play-through disc cover, and access to all controls and ports. The case also includes a detachable, 360º rotating belt clip and comes with a custom Universal Dock well insert that accommodates the nano in the case. The new MicroShield will be available next month for $25.
Despite recent talk of market saturation, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes that Apple’s iPod growth will continue at around 30% year-over-year. “Since the iPod was introduced in Oct. 2001 it has been the primary driver of the company’s growth engine,” Munster said in a report today. “We are modeling for the year-over-year growth to stabilize at around 20%, but believe 30% growth is achievable and will provide upside to our estimates… Apple has sold 68 million iPods in the past five years (of which 39 million were sold in the last year), and we believe a significant addressable market remains. Although we consider it an overestimation, if we use the mobile phone market as a proxy for the iPod’s addressable market, then the iPod’s market penetration is about 27.5%.”
G-Tech has introduced a new iPod-ready messenger bag. The G-Tech bag features an ElekTex fabric control pad, built-in speaker and universal 3.5mm jack. Available in black or brown, the messenger bag also has compartments to store a laptop, iPod, cell phone, and more. “Geared to mobile, tech-savvy users, the bags include an integrated external speaker and provide a space to stash a cell phone and iPod inside and control the iPod from the strap of the bag, eliminating the hassles of fumbling to work the device while on the go,” says the company. The G-Tech Messenger Bag is priced at $129 and will be available starting mid-November.
Grantwood Technology has announced the Shoe Pouch, a new product to allow runners and walkers to use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with shoes other than the Nike+ shoes. “For any number of valid reasons, many people prefer to wear Asics, New Balance, Saucony, Brooks, etc. and even Nike shoes that are not Nike+,” says the company. “We wanted people to be able to use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with any style of shoe.” Made of neoprene, the Shoe Pouch attaches through the laces of one shoe and is priced at $6.
iSoundCap has announced a new iPod-ready cap for runners. The iSoundCap Running Hat is made with a breathable, lightweight mesh fabric and holds an iPod nano in a protective neoprene case. “Not only are there no wires hanging below the head when running, but the iPod remains secure and is sweat resistant,” says the company. The running cap works with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit receiver and will also be available in colors to match the second-generation nano—pink, silver, green, black, red and blue. Pricing was not announced.
Monster today announced four new iPod accessories—the iCarPlay Wireless 200 FM Transmitter, iTV Link A/V Cable, iSplitter 200 Headphone Splitter, and the iEZClick Wireless Remote.
The Monster iCarplay Wireless 200 FM transmitter ($100) allows iPod users to play music wirelessly through their car stereo while simultaneously charging their iPod. It features Monster AutoScan technology, three programmable station presets, and international modes for use in North America, Europe and Japan.
The Monster iTVLink ($50) is designed to directly connect an iPod to a TV for viewing photos and videos on a bigger screen. The cable features a dock connector for the iPod and S-video and stereo audio outputs for the TV. The iTV Link also has a built-in mini USB charging port.
The Monster iSplitter 200 ($20) allows two people to share music from one iPod. It features two built-in volume controls, a quick-access mute switch, a protective Duraflex jacket, and 24k gold contacts.
The Monster iEZClick ($70) is a wearable RF-based wireless iPod remote control that’s “perfect for use while snowboarding, jogging, or hiking on the go activities.” It features a weather-resistant housing, comes with a clip and elastic Velcro strap, and has an operating range of up to 30 ft.
Adesso has introduced a new line of desk lamps that feature integrated speakers and iPod cradles. The company’s iLamp line includes the Tempo Architect iLamp (white base with satin steel and chrome accents), the Boogie Architect iLamp (painted champagne steel finish with LED bulbs), the Rock On! Architect iLamp (black painted base with perforated black metal shade), the Tunes iLamp (white plastic bubble shaped base from which two round speakers extend and retract), the Harmony iLamp (flat saucer-like vented shade with a thin blue translucent strip and plastic base), and the Boom Box iLamp (LED lamp with portable, boom box-shaped base). Each iLamp connects to an iPod or other MP3 player via the headphone jack, features an adjustable neck, and retails for $89.
On October 23, 2001, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced a digital music player called the “iPod” during a media event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. At the time, Apple was a company only beginning to emerge from almost a decade of troubles, and the debut, held only shortly after the September 11 attacks in New York City, was almost a non-event.
The original iPod, which cost $399, had a cutting-edge 1.8” 5GB hard drive that could be filled with high-speed FireWire connectivity, and used a brightly backlit 2-inch monochrome screen and innovative Scroll Wheel for control. It was about the size of a deck of cards, weighed 6.5 ounces, and worked only with Mac computers. “With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again,” Jobs said at the time. Almost no one believed the man, or understood why the iPod’s design was importantly different from previously released MP3 players, but his words turned out to be spot on.
Five years later, the iPod is now a true cultural icon, and has in fact changed the way the world listens to music—more than 69 million iPods are now in the hands of music fans around the globe. The iPod accounts for over 75% of all portable music players sold in the U.S, and is the leading such device in several other major countries. Over 3,000 iPod accessories are said to be available for purchase, while approximately 70% of the 2007 model year cars sold in the U.S. will offer direct iPod integration as an option. Apple’s iTunes Store continues to ring up sale after sale of music, movies and TV shows, with iTunes accounting for 85% of digital media purchased and downloaded in the U.S, and leading each of the markets in which it sells music worldwide. And neither the iPod or iTunes show any sign of slowing down.
iLounge will also be celebrating its fifth birthday soon. Our site, known back then as iPodlounge, launched just two weeks after the iPod was introduced, making us one of the first publications to cover the iPod exclusively. Today, iLounge provides more than 1,000 iPod accessory reviews and many more thousand news stories, articles and tutorials. Over 2,000 iPod accessories are in the iLounge database, with products from over 300 different companies represented. Continually growing as the number of iPod owners increase, iLounge sees millions of readers every month, including over 100,000 registered forum members. We’ll be announcing a celebratory contest very soon.
From all of us at iLounge to Apple’s iPod teams, past and present, congratulations on your fifth birthday. We plan to be here to celebrate many, many more.
Though Apple lets you know how many iTunes Store-downloaded songs can fit on each iPod, readers often ask us how many songs from their existing library can be squeezed onto a given iPod hard drive or flash memory chipset. In this week’s Ask iLounge column, we answered that question by debuting the iPod Storage Calculator, a new tool that lets you quickly estimate how many compressed audio files of various types will fit in any current or past iPod’s storage capacity.
Most people will find that their existing collections consist of songs compressed at bitrates ranging from 96 to 192 kbps, so we’ve provided automatic calculations for each major bitrate in that range. A handful of listeners will have larger, less compressed files ranging up to 320 kbps, and we’ve included calculations for those bitrates, too. If you’re a really hard-core audiophile, you may insist on Lossless-formatted files - if so, you can use the custom calculation field to make a best guess, or the Lossless field that’s set to an average rate of 850 kbps.
We hope you find the new Storage Calculator useful. As always, your comments are appreciated.
Contour Design has introduced the Showcase nano, a new dual-layer case for the second-generation iPod nano. The hinged case combines a shock absorbing rubber design with a crystal clear hard case. The Showcase nano features play-through Click Wheel and screen protection, a removable multi-position stainless steel belt clip, and secure sliding latch. The case sells for $33 and will be available the first week of November.
Munchkin recently added the iCrib sound system to its line of baby products. The iCrib attaches to baby cribs and features a cradle with inserts to fit the iPod and other MP3 players. The system also has a built-in nightlight and volume limiter, sleep timer, adjustable straps to fit on crib rails, and three modes (music only, lights only or both music and lights). “The iCrib lets you choose the music that soothes your baby to sleep—because some kids are a little bit country, and others a little bit of rock ‘n roll,” says Munchkin. The iCrib sells for $30.
The NanoMonsters are a new line of character-based iPod nano cases. The colorful rubber cases ($20) feature plastic hooks and can stand up on their own. Eight characters are available—Chuckles, Mitts, Skully, Ta Foey, Lucha Brow, Lunch Box, El Momo and T Bone. “NanoMonsters is an innovative and fun new take on boring iPod cases,” says the company behind the line. “These officially licensed designs are not only a protective iPod case but also a cool character all in one.” See iLounge’s First Look at the NanoMonsters for hands-on photos.
According to a new study, listening to loud music with earphones on an iPod or similar music player for more than 90 minutes a day will damage your hearing. “The study of 100 doctoral students concluded that people who listened to music at 80 percent of volume capacity, at which point the sound is considered loud, should stick to under 90 minutes a day,” reports Reuters. “The study also found no problems for people who listened to music at 10 percent to 50 percent of maximum volume for extended periods. It found, however, that anyone who listened at 100 percent for more than five minutes faced the risk of hearing loss.”
The so-called iPod halo effect is in full swing, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who noted today that a large number of iPod users are turning into new Mac computer purchasers. “The formula is working,” Munster said in a research note. “The 68 million iPods sold in the past five years (39 million of those were sold in the last 12 months) are translating to the resurgence in the Mac platform with worldwide Mac market share increasing from 2.1% in March of 2006 to 2.8% today.” The analyst belives Apple’s iTV and the long-rumored iPhone will also help boost the number of Mac users. “We believe in 6 months the halo effect will expand beyond a simple iPod-to-Mac correlation into a four-way relationship with iPod, Mac, iPhone, and iTV benefiting from each other’s success,” Munster said. “If this plays out, Apple’s growth rate should accelerate in 2007.”
When Apple said this week that a small number of fifth-generation iPods had shipped with a Windows virus, the company’s statement included the line “as you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.” Now, Microsoft is hitting back, with current and former employees saying it’s wrong to blame the software giant and that Apple’s quality assurance checks are at fault.
“It’s not a matter of which platform the virus originated [on]. The fact that it’s found on the portable player means that there’s an issue with how the quality checks, specifically the content check, was done,” said Jonathan Poon, Microsoft’s product release virus scanning chief. “Steve, if you need someone to advise on how to improve your quality checks, feel free to contact me,” Poon said, referring to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
James Abrams, who held Poon’s job for more than a decade at Microsoft, said: “The Apple iPod incident was not about Microsoft having a hardy operating system, it was all about security and process… That Apple would blame Microsoft demonstrates a lack of understanding of remedial security and manufacturing processes. Virus was only a symptom of the problem. Apple didn’t know what they were shipping.”
During Apple’s fourth quarter conference call, Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook reaffirmed that the second-generation iPod shuffle would ship to customers and stores before the end of the month.
“We will ship by the end of October,” Cook said, later adding, “We’re excited to get shipments underway in a couple weeks.” Cook said customer reception was excellent and that “demand [for iPods generally] accelerated significantly after the launch,” adding that “it was that acceleration that allowed us to exceed expectations for the quarter.”
Apple introduced the new shuffle at a special event on September 12th. The shuffle, which Apple calls “the world’s smallest digital music player,” features an all-new aluminum design and is roughly half the size of the original shuffle. It offers 1GB of storage and sells for $79.
Along with its quarterly financial results, Apple today announced that it shipped over 8.7 million iPods during the company’s fiscal fourth quarter of 2006. Specifically, Apple said it shipped 8,729,000 iPods during the quarter, a 35 percent growth over last year’s results.
Apple’s net profit for the quarter was $546 million, or 62 cents per share, on $4.84 billion in revenue. These results compare to revenue of $3.68 billion and a net profit of $430 million, or 50 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Apple said that its fourth quarter earnings were “preliminary” because they may need to be restated due to the company’s stock option troubles. “These preliminary results may be subject to significant adjustment as a result of a likely restatement of historical results,” the Apple said in a statement.
“This strong quarter caps an extraordinary year for Apple. Selling more than 39 million iPods and 5.3 million Macs while performing an incredibly complex architecture transition is something we are all very proud of,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Looking forward, 2007 is likely to be one of the most exciting new product years in Apple’s history.”