We recently launched two new contests with some great prizes:
To celebrate our upcoming fifth birthday, we’ve launched the iLounge 5th Birthday Contest. Prizes include a white Apple MacBook and 80GB iPod pack, an 80GB black iPod, and a 4GB iPod nano in your color of choice. To enter, you must design an effective, interesting online ad for iLounge.
The second contest we recently kicked off is the Musician Match Game Contest. The object of the game is to match the custom Ultimate Ears earphones to the musician who wears them. A winner will be randomly drawn from correct entries. First and second prizes will be randomly drawn from all other entries. Prizes include one pair of Ultimate Ears UE 10 Pro earphones, custom fitted for your ears and free personalization, one pair of super.fi 5 Pro earphones, and one pair of super.fi 5 EB earphones.
Vaja has introduced the iVod Silver, a new version of its flagship case for the fifth-generation iPod. Made from Argentine leather like previous iVod cases, the Silver version features polished sterling silver accents around the screen and Click Wheel. The form-fitting case provides access to the Dock Connector, headphone jack and hold switch. It can also be ordered with an optional belt clip and personalized with text or graphics. The iVod Silver case is priced at $240 and is available in sizes to fit the 30GB iPod or 60GB/80GB iPod.
Proporta has announced three new protective cases for Apple’s second-generation iPod shuffle. The company’s Steel Sleeve (shown) features metal construction and is available in metallic black, metallic purple, metallic blue, metallic green, metallic pink, metallic red, silver and white. The Silicone Sleeve is made from silicone and comes in white, pink, blue, black and green. Proporta’s Crystal Sleeve is made of polycarbonate plastic and comes in clear, black, blue, pink and red. Each case sells for $9 and will ship before the end of the month.
Silex Technology has introduced the wiDock, a new iPod docking solution that enables you to transfer songs and video wirelessly to your iPod over an 802.11g Wi-Fi network. The wiDock can be connected to your home entertainment system for audio and video playback from the iPod. The dock, which works with both PCs and Macs, also charges the iPod’s battery and allows users to control playback using the Apple Remote. The wiDock features a 3.5mm audio output, S-Video output, and ethernet connectivity. Pricing was not available.
Disney has now sold nearly 500,000 movies and approximately 12 million ABC television programs through the iTunes Store, according to Disney CEO Robert Iger. “Since we made our movies available on the Apple platform in mid-September, almost half a million have been downloaded,” Iger said during Disney’s fourth quarter earnings call. “This underlines the strength and uniqueness of our film library, and indicates there is a consumer appetite for movie downloads that complements demand for DVDs… In addition, approximately 12 million ABC TV programs have been purchased since October, 2005 via iTunes downloads.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and The New York Times’ David Pogue, two of the most well known and widely read tech columnists, both give less than stellar marks to Microsoft’s Zune media player in their reviews of the device today. While both writers give the Zune credit for a handful of features—with Pogue even calling the device “excellent” at one point—they both offer up fairly damaging final reviews.
“This first Zune has too many compromises and missing features to be as good a choice as the iPod for most users,” Mossberg writes. “The hardware feels rushed and incomplete. It is 60% larger and 17% heavier than the comparable iPod. It has much worse battery life for music than the iPod or than Microsoft claims—at least two hours less than the iPod’s, in my tests. Despite the larger screen, many album covers look worse than they do on the iPod. And you can’t share music libraries between computers like you can with iTunes… Overall, the iPod and iTunes are still the champs. Still, I expect the Zune to attract some converts and to get better with time. And this kind of competition from a big company with deep pockets and lots of talent is good for consumers in the long run.”
“Competition is good and all. But what, exactly, is the point of the Zune?” asks Pogue. “It seems like an awful lot of duplication—in a bigger, heavier form with fewer features—just to indulge Microsoft’s ‘we want some o’ that’ envy. Wireless sharing is the one big new idea—and if the public seems to respond, Apple could always add that to the iPod… The Zune 1.0 player is pretty barren, too. It doesn’t have a single standard iPod amenity: no games, alarm clock, stopwatch, world clock, password-protected volume limiter, equalizer, calendar, address book or notes module. Incredibly, you can’t even use the Zune as an external hard drive, as you can with just about every other player on earth.”
We’ve just debuted a new regular feature of the site: iPod Stars. Each week, we’ll be talking to celebrities about how they use their iPods, and what they’ve been up to.
This week, we chatted with DJ AM, one of the most photographed celebrity DJs in the world, and Sean Avery, the “feisty,” “bad boy” L.A. Kings center and music fan, about their favorite iPods and accessories. Here are our quick Q&As - more are coming.
iLuv has introduced a new set of headphones and a new pair of ear clips that use Bluetooth wireless technology. The iPod-compatible headsets allow you to listen to your music wirelessly and can also be used with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. The iLuv i903 Noise-Canceling Headphones ($100) feature a swivel, over the head design and noise canceling technology. They also include a Bluetooth audio transmitter, soft-cushioned ear pads, and a mini-USB connection. The iLuv i202 Stereo Ear Clips ($90) feature a folding, swivel design and clip directly to the ear. The ear clips have integrated remote control functions (Play/Pause/Skip/Volume Controls) and come with a dongle-style Bluetooth audio adapter.
In a move that could have a future impact on Apple, Microsoft has agreed to pay Universal Music Group a fee for each Zune media player it sells. “We felt that any business that’s built on the bedrock of music we should share in,” said Doug Morris, chief executive of Universal, owned by French media giant Vivendi. “We were very early in working with Steve on the launch of the iPod and he’s been a very good partner and done a lot for the industry,” Morris said in response to questions about Universal’s relationship with Apple. “We have a current contract with him and at the end of that I’m sure we’ll negotiate.” Apple currently only has revenue-share deals with record companies for music sold on the iTunes Store, and does not offer a portion of iPod sales to any company.
Update: The New York Times reports that Universal is expected to receive more than $1 for each $250 Zune sold, and that the deal “comes after weeks of tense talks and averts a standoff that might have crippled Microsoft’s attempt to compete against the iPod.” According to the Times report, Universal apparently threatened to not sell its music through the online Zune media store unless Microsoft paid a royalty for each Zune sold.
“Microsoft ultimately had plenty of incentive to make a deal with Universal,” reports the newspaper. “Microsoft is laying a huge wager on the Zune. If it had not struck a deal, it would have been left in the position of trying to mount a credible challenge to the iPod without Universal, which accounts for a third of new albums sold in the United States. Microsoft also stands to benefit by cultivating a fan-friendly image with the notion that artists—not just corporations—will share in the Zune’s sales.”
In addition to free laser engraving, Apple is offering $5 gift boxes with the purchase of iPods from its online store. Apple calls the signature gift boxes “origami-style” and includes simple red ribbon with each box. “For just $5, we’ll ship your iPod in our origami-style gift box,” the Apple Store says. “It’s great if you can’t be there when they open it, even better if you can watch their faces light up.”
News Corp. said Wednesday that it is having “positive talks” with Apple about bringing its Fox movie library to the iTunes Store. Peter Chernin, News Corp.‘s president and chief operating officer, disclosed the discussions with Apple during a financial conference call with analysts and reporters. Walt Disney is currently the only movie studio offering ful-length movies on iTunes. The Fox movie studio includes many titles, including hits like the “X-Men” and Star Wars” films. Several of News Corp.‘s Fox television shows, including “Prison Break” and “24” are currently available for download on iTunes.
Apple is seeing a large amount of consumer interest in its second-generation iPod shuffle and is upbeat about the upcoming holiday shopping season. “Response to it has been tremendous,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of worldwide product marketing, referring to the new shuffle, which started shipping late last month. “We’re really excited about the holiday period.” Schiller did not provide any specific sales figures.
Case-mate today announced two new leather cases for the second-generation iPod nano. The Signature case (shown) is a form-fit case featuring an injection molded, impact resistant plastic shell, a screen and click wheel protector, as well as a belt clip with a 360-degree swivel. The case is available in black, white, and red for $25. Case-mate’s Luxe case is identical to the Signature case, but with Swarovski crystals arranged around the click wheel. The Luxe case is available in white with pink crystals, blue crystals or green crystals for $30.
Marware has announced new versions of its Sportsuit Sprinter and SportGrip cases designed to complement Apple’s iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition. The new Sportsuit Sprinter ($25) has a black neoprene body and color-coordinated red graphics. Designed for runners and active walkers, the case features an adjustable hand strap and Velcro closure. The new Sport Grip ($10) comes in a red translucent color, and features a “grippy, specially treated exterior that helps to prevent dust collection and provides an incredibly silky texture.”
Voxred International has announced the iTurbo, a portable power source for iPods. The tube-shaped product is reusable, runs off of one AA battery, and has an “on/off” twist feature to preserve battery power. “When an iPod battery indicates that it’s low, simply plug one end of the iTurbo adapter into the iPod and the other end into the iTurbo,” explains the company. “The blue light on top of the iTurbo will become brighter, indicating that the iPod is receiving a safe flow of energy. The amount of additional playtime supplied by the iTurbo depends upon the make and model of the iPod. For example, when an iPod nano battery is low, the iTurbo can supply up to nine additional hours of playtime.” Available in black or white, the iTurbo sells for $30-$35.
Apple has released a new television commercial to promote the recently launched iTunes Latino section on the iTunes Store. As with the now well-known iPod+iTunes TV spots, the ad features silhouetted iPod-toting dancers in front of colorful backgrounds. The ad features an up-tempo Spanish-language song and ends with the words “Tu ritmo. Tu Musica. Tu iPod. iPod+iTunes.”
MicroOptical has reduced the price of its iPod-ready myvu video eyewear headset. Originally announced at $399, the myvu will now sell for $299.
“iLounge input, our new retail partners, and the fact that we are ahead of schedule with our manufacturing gives us the confidence to reduce the price of the myvu Made For iPod edition and we are seeing a very enthusiastic market response to this move,” said Bruce Lampert, VP Sales and Business Development.
Designed to work specifically with Apple’s video-enabled iPods, the headset offers a viewing experience comparable to a 27-inch screen from six feet away, and features noise-reducing earbuds, wired remote, protective case, and a battery pack for six hours of viewing time. See iLounge’s First Look for hands-on photos and further details.
Sundance Channel today announced the availability of select television programming on the iTunes Store. Episodes of Sundance Channel documentary series “The Hill,” “The First Amendment Project,” and “The Staircase” are available starting today for $1.99 each. Additionally, Sundance Channel said that a sneak peek of the first episode of the six-part documentary series “One Punk Under God” will be available as a free download on iTunes from December 5th through the 12th. Episodes of the series, which debuts on December 13th, will be available on iTunes the day after they air on Sundance Channel.
Griffin Technology has provided iLounge with exclusive details and pictures of its first iPod speaker systems. As revealed in our 2007 iPod Buyers’ Guide, the two new systems include a portable-sized system called the Voyager, and a larger, 2.1-channel tabletop system called the AmpliFi. Both are planned for release in the first quarter of 2007.
The Voyager ($130) boasts a protective tactile rubber enclosure that also serves as a stand. The portable speaker system also offers a built-in, rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, wireless remote control, an adjustable iPod dock, auxiliary input, and Dock Connector port.
The AmpliFi ($150) features an acoustically tuned wooden enclosure, two 2.75” speakers for the highs and mids, and a dedicated 5” woofer and port for bass. The system also sports a universal iPod-charging dock, stereo input jack for connecting other devices, and a wireless remote.
Microsoft has announced plans to sell TV shows and rent movies that can be downloaded onto an Xbox 360 through the company’s Xbox Live online video game service. Beginning Nov. 22, Xbox Live users will be able to choose from select shows distributed by MTV Networks, CBS, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Turner Broadcasting System, and Ultimate Fighting Championship. The programming, which will come in standard-definition and some in high-definition, includes shows such as “South Park” and “CSI,” and movies such as “V For Vendetta” and “Superman Returns.” Pricing of the content was not announced, though it is expected to be similar to iTunes Store pricing.