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Mix:, Zune nano, Dutch levy, Shoewallet

Russia has agreed to demands from the U.S. government to shut down, the Russian online music store known for selling tracks for pennies. Russia will close the site in an attempt at improving its chance of gaining membership to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Apple pundit John Gruber wonders if Microsoft chose the wrong iPod to copy. After analyzing sales data, Gruber concludes that Microsoft would have been better off using the iPod nano as inspiration for its first digital media player.

Reuters reports that a Dutch industry group “postponed levying a copyright tax on digital music players and hard-disk video recorders, saying on Wednesday it would wait for the European Commission to first make a recommendation.”

The makers of the Shoewallet have begun marketing the product to runners who want to use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with shoes besides the compatible Nike+ models. The $10 Shoewallet attaches to a shoe’s laces and holds an ID, cash and keys.

Oakley debuts new case for 5G iPods

Oakley has introduced a new case for fifth-generation iPods. Made of ballistic nylon, the 99037 iPod case features a flip-top design, play-through screen and Click Wheel protector, and snap closure. The case is priced at $35 and will be available soon at the online Apple Store and Apple retail locations. Oakley said a “Sheetmetal” version of the 99037 case would be available in Spring 2007.

Nike+iPod Sport Kit could be used as surveillance device

The Nike+iPod Sport Kit could be used as an illegal surveillance device, according to a report from four University of Washington researchers. Their report claims that security flaws in the new RFID-powered device “make it easy for tech-savvy stalkers, thieves and corporations” to track your movements. “With just a few hundred dollars and a little know-how, someone could even plot your running routes on a Google map without your knowledge,” reports Wired News. The researchers said that because the Nike sensor contains its own on-board power source and will reveal its unique ID to any Nike+ iPod receiver, a quick hardware hack “any high school student could do in the garage” and a tiny, $79 Linux-based computer can be used to track runners.

Marware intros Runabout wristband for 2G iPod shuffle

Marware has introduced the Sportsuit Runabout for Apple’s second-generation iPod shuffle. The wristband sport case lets you wear your shuffle like a watch, or use an included extension piece to convert it to an armband. Made with Marware’s Orca Skin neoprene and rubber material, the shuffle clips on and off the Sportsuit Runabout and offers access to the headphone port and switches. The Sportsuit Runabout sells for $15.

Griffin ships iTalk Pro recorder

Griffin Technology today announced that it is now shipping its iTalk Pro audio recorder (iLounge Rating: B). Compatible with the fifth-generation iPod and second-generation iPod nano, the iTalk Pro has built-in twin microphones that can record in mono or CD-quality (44.1 kHz) stereo. The $50 accessory also features adjustable gain settings and a stereo 3.5 mm input jack for use with external microphones.

Apple authorizes usage of ‘podcast’ term

One podcaster has received a letter from Apple’s trademark department stating that the company does not object to others using the term “podcast” and that it also does not license the term. “Apple does not object to third party usage of the generic term ‘podcast’ to accurately refer to podcasting services,” Apple said in the note. “Apple does not license the term ‘podcast.’” The letter was in response to a $1 “royalty check” Dave Gray, host of the Global Geek podcast, sent to Apple CEO Steve Jobs nearly two months ago. Gray sent the check and a letter to Jobs following threats from Apple to a site named PodcastReady, claiming trademark violations.

Pre-CES iPod product roundup

Several iPod-compatible consumer electronics products were revealed in the pre-show 2007 International CES Awards. Below are brief descriptions of the products, with large photos here. Pricing and availability was not provided for any of the products. CES 2007 will take place January 8-11 in Las Vegas.

The iHome iH85 is an iPod sound system specifically designed for bicycles. The tube-shaped system comes with a wireless control pad and is water-resistant.

The iHome iH21 wireless music system features an iPod dock that transmits music to a water-resistant speaker from over 30 feet away. A wireless remote is also included.

The Philips DCM270 Docking Entertainment System features a built-in iPod/Philips player dock, CD player and FM radio. The floor-standing system offers “superb sound quality,” according to the product description.

Alpine’s iDA-X001 iPod/Media Ready Receiver, which was “designed and developed with input from Apple,” displays artist, album, CD art and track information from an iPod. It features a USB input for iPod connectivity.

The iMedia Chair from Empower Technologies is “the world’s only complete surround sound home theater integrated into an ergonomic chair” and appears to feature an integrated iPod dock.

Altec Lansing’s M812 Wireless iPod Audio System is a minimalist-looking home speaker system that plays music streamed from your iPod. It’s not clear if the system comes with a wireless iPod attachment or dock.

OtterBox debuts water-proof case for 2G iPod nano

OtterBox today announced a new version of its “waterproof, dustproof, dirtproof, sandproof and drop-proof” case for the second-generation iPod nano. Made of clear, hard plastic, the new nano OtterBox features a protective Click Wheel membrane for play-through control and works with any standard earphones or headphones. The $40 case also includes a removable neck lanyard and belt clip with cable management. “With a completely interactive Click Wheel membrane, enthusiasts can turn up the volume or scroll through favorite tunes even on a run,” says OtterBox. “An airtight seal prevents elements from entering the case and a rugged, drop-proof design cradles nanos from falls and scratches.”

Hollywood studios pressure Apple for stricter DRM limitations

Hollywood studios are pressuring Apple to strengthen its iTunes copy-protection scheme. The studios—Universal, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros.—are reportedly in discussions with Apple about selling their movies on the iTunes Store. “After months of discussion, a sticking point has emerged over the studios’ demand that Apple limit the number of devices that can use a film downloaded from iTunes,” reports The Financial Times. “The studios want to avoid the experience of the music industry, which has yet to recover from years of illegal digital piracy. Apple must introduce a ‘new model’ for feature film content delivery, said one studio executive involved in the talks.”

Pacific Design intros Contour Sleeve for 2G iPod nano

Pacific Design has introduced the nano Contour Sleeve for Apple’s second-generation iPod nano. Currently available in black/grey and pink/white, the $20 case features side stitching details, built-in Lexan screen protection, anti-scratch felt lining, and metal carabiner clip. Pacific Design said it will be introducing the Contour Sleeve for fifth-generation iPods in January, and in Spring 2007, new colors for the nano Contour Sleeve will be available in black/red, green/white, blue/aqua, and grey/orange.

U.S. bans sale of iPods to North Korea

Responding to North Korea’s ongoing nuclear program, the Bush administration has imposed sanctions on luxury goods, making it tougher for the country’s eccentric leader to buy iPods and other pricey items he covets. “The U.S. government’s first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president expressly targets items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run the communist government,” reports the Associated Press. Other items on the list include cognac, plasma televisions, Segway electric scooters, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, yachts, Harley Davidson motorcycles, and Jet Skis.

Universal Music may seek iPod royalty fee

Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris said today that he may try to squeeze an iPod royalty fee from Apple in their next round of negotiations early next year. As reported earlier this month, Universal, the world’s largest music company, struck an agreement with Microsoft to receive a fee for every Zune digital media player sold. “It would be a nice idea. We have a negotiation coming up not too far. I don’t see why we wouldn’t do that… but maybe not in the same way,” Morris told the Reuters Media Summit, when asked about an iPod royalty fee. “The Zune (deal) was an amazingly interesting exercise, to end up with a piece of technology,” he added.

iSymphony speaker system lineup announced

imageiSymphony has announced the launch of its new iSymphony line of iPod-compatible speaker systems. The iSymphony M1 ($200) is a micro music system with built-in iPod dock, CD/MP3 player, USB, SD/MMC slots, an AM/FM stereo tuner, MP3 and WMA playback, and backlit clock. The iSymphony M2 ($300; shown right) takes all of the M1’s features and adds a Progressive Scan DVD/MPEG4 player and additional flash memory via its Memory Stick compatibility.

imageThe company also offers two clock radio music systems—the CR1 and CR3. The iSymphony CR1 ($60) features a built-in iPod dock, alarm clock, FM/AM radio, and can run off of AC or DC power. The iSymphony CR3 ($100; shown) also has a built-in iPod dock plus a dual alarm clock with snooze, AM/FM radio with 48 station memory, and preset equalizer.

Checks with retail stores show little Zune awareness

Salespeople are not consistently recommending Microsoft’s Zune player, and are overwhelmingly suggesting the iPod to customers, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. “We recently spoke with 40 big-box retailers to gauge which MP3 players salespeople were suggesting for more than $200 (i.e. the 30GB iPod, Zune or others),” Munster wrote in a report today. “We found that store clerks only recommended the Zune 8% of the time, while they recommended the iPod 75% of the time. In fact, some MP3 player salespeople had not even heard of the Zune, despite the fact that they sold it in their store.”

Munster also noted that the Zune has fallen down Amazon’s top-selling MP3 players list. “During the Zune’s launch week (on 11/16) the black model reached the 7th spot on Amazon’s top-selling MP3 players list,” Munster wrote. “But by 11/20 the player fell to the 13th spot, with the brown model at 22nd and the white model at 42nd. By 11/27 the black Zune was ranked 18th. The buzz that Microsoft was able to generate for the Zune’s launch clearly helped the player in its first week, but much of the publicity took the form of Zune/iPod comparisons… Due to the less than favorable reception, we believe the Zune will not materially impact iPod sales in the December 06 quarter.”

Speck offers Friends & Family holiday discount

Speck Products has announced its first Friends & Family holiday promotion. iLoungers can get 20% off anything from the company’s online store for the next week by entering coupon code SpeckFF06 at checkout. Speck offers several unique cases and armbands for the first and second-generation iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod.

H2O Audio ships waterproof housing for 2G iPod nano

H2O Audio today announced that it has begun shipping its new waterproof housing for the second-generation iPod nano. The “H2O Audio for iPod nano Gen 2” is submersible up to 10 ft. and features “a durable elastomeric diagonal T-seal providing absolute waterproof protection as well as its unique full-function Commander scroll-wheel assembly that provides users with ready access to all of the nano’s proprietary click wheel functions.” The case also has a LatchTight locking system and SealTight connector that’s compatible with standard 3.5mm headphone plugs. The H20 Audio case for 2G nanos is priced at $80.

Fox Reality to offer free premieres on iTunes Store

Fox Reality, the all-reality cable and satellite television channel, will offer the first episodes of all of its upcoming original series for free on Apple’s iTunes Store one week prior to their premieres. On November 30th, Fox Reality’s “My Bare Lady” will be available, days before its December 7th on-air debut. On December 8th, the episode will be priced at Apple’s usual $1.99. Other shows set to premiere on iTunes include “Rob and Amber: Against the Odds,” which premieres in January, and “The Academy,” slated for May.

Nike Amp+ bracelet remote for iPod revealed

The Men’s Health 2007 Tech Guide has revealed another new Nike product made just for iPods. The Nike Amp+ is a wrist strap for runners that integrates a wireless remote for controlling an iPod and the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. The magazine prices the Nike Amp+ at $80; no release date is given.

“Playlist miscues can ruin a run. That’s the impetus behind this wrist-mounted Bluetooth remote, which lets you brows through songs on your iPod or check your run times without fumbling with the player,” writes Men’s Health. “It syncs up with the Nike+iPod running system via a Bluetooth wireless connection, displaying information on an illuminated LED readout hidden beneath the matte-finish face of the bracelet. Just stash your iPod in your pocket—no more fiddling with the sweat-slicked dial.” [via TUAW]

Nike offers customizable backpack with iPod controls

Nike has introduced the C.O.R.E. Backpack iD, a new customizable backpack that features integrated iPod controls. The backpack’s keypad, located on the right shoulder strap, has controls for volume, tracks and play/pause, and connects to iPods via a dock connector. The Nike C.O.R.E. Backpack iD starts at $105.

“With the latest C.O.R.E. backpack you can customize colors, add performance features and have music at your fingertips,” says Nike. “Plus, you can add self-locking two-way zippers to make sure everything stays safely in your bag. You can also spec a Nike Flow ventilated back panel to help keep you cooler, drier, longer. Tons of options to give you the exact pack you want.”

iPod FM transmitters legal in UK starting next week

As expected, iPod FM transmitters will be legal in the UK beginning December 8, 2006. Ofcom, the regulating body for the UK communications industries, has finalized new legislation that allows consumers to use certain low-power FM transmitters. BBC News reports: “The devices fell foul of the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949, which forbids the use of radio equipment without a licence or an exemption. But strong consumer demand for the devices led Ofcom to rethink the legislation. Liberal Democrat MPs were also prominent in asking for iTrips and similar devices to be legalized. The new Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 mean that certain low-power transmitters will now be legal.”

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