Zofunk has annnounced its line of Colors iPod cases for fifth-generation iPod models. These cases feature a two-tone Click Wheel cover—in red, pink or blue—set against a black background. The case offers full access to the hold switch, headphone jack and dock connector without needing to be removed. They are made of thin silicone and have a special dust resistant coating.
Newer Technology has announced the NuPower ViDEO+ rechargeable battery pack fifth-generation iPods. The $50 device attaches to any 5G (video) iPod to provide an extra 80 hours of music listening or 16 hours of video viewing. The NuPower ViDEO+—which includes the battery pack, stand, docking station, and belt clip—also doubles as a portable charger, delivering up to three charges to an iPod’s internal battery. “The lightweight NuPower ViDEO+ is priceless wherever you go—on an airplane, beach, or anywhere you’d like to relax with your iPod Video without worrying about finding a power outlet to enjoy your music and video,” says the company.
The European Union’s consumer chief has backed off from her views of Apple’s closed music system, claiming her previous statement was only meant to raise questions. Meglena Kuneva, the European Union’s Consumer Protection Commissioner, told a news conference there was no reason to talk about legal action against Apple. “I would like, really, to start this debate. What is best to develop this market and to have more consumers enjoying this really very important, very modern way of downloading and enjoying the music?” she said of Apple’s iTunes. Kuneva was recently quoted in an interview harshly criticizing the iPod-iTunes link. “Do you think it’s fine that a CD plays in all CD players but that an iTunes song only plays in an iPod? I don’t. Something has to change,” she said.
Fabrix has unveiled its lineup of 2007 cases for various iPod models and the upcoming iPhone. The hand-sewn Fabrix cases, sporting a variety of designs, have a nylon loop for use with a keyring or carabineer. They also have internal quilted padding to provide protection against light bumps and the like. Each case sells for $20.
UBS analyst Alex Guana said yesterday that Apple could use NAND flash memory, as opposed to tiny hard disk drives, in the next version of the video iPod. Guana said that the company will more than likely introduce two new models—a 16GB and a 32GB iPod. The analyst also said that flash memory maker SanDisk would benefit from the switch and upgraded the company’s stock from a “neutral” rating to a “buy.” Guana noted that a flash-based video iPod would help increase demand for the memory and drive up its value.
SendStation Systems has introduced the PocketDock AV, an ultra-compact iPod adaptor that provides audio and video connectivity. The device features connections for USB, line out audio, as well a both composite and S-Video, allowing users to connect an iPod to a home stereo and output iPod videos on a TV. The PocketDock AV also syncs and charges an iPod, and includes a 4-in-1 cable for USB and AV connections. SendStation said the PocketDock AV will be available next month for $37.
Colorware has unveiled a limited edition pink version of its modified 30GB fifth-generation iPod in four different designs—rose, hearts, cherries, butterfly. These otherwise standard iPods, which sell for $350, include matching back color and earbuds. Colorware said if sales of this color are successful it may join their standard line up of over 25 other color choices.
iStyles today announced the iPod Video Privacy Screen Protector ($10), an adhesive screen cover that lets users watch videos on a fifth-generation iPod in privacy. “The iPod Video Privacy Screen Protector is an innovative new screen protector for the iPod 5G that not only protects your screen from the scratches and light bumps, but also protects your privacy by preventing your neighbors from seeing what you have on your screen,” says iStyles. The iPod Video Privacy Screen Protector allows users to view the iPod’s screen directly, but limits viewing from the side.
UBS analyst Ben Reitzes believes Apple is planning a “mega-platform” based on the iPhone’s multi-touch display technology, and sees the company introducing new iPods and Macs that utilize the advanced interface. The analyst said Apple could begin selling other new products with multi-touch technology as early as 2008. “We expect multi-touch to be prevalent in Apple’s major hardware products within three to five years—making its way into touch-screen Macs next year,” Reitzes told clients today. “We also expect new touch-screen video iPods, ultra portables, more phones and possibly even TVs in the future.”
Contexture Design, maker of the “45” vinyl iPod cases, has announced a new service that allows customers to send in their own 7-inch vinyl records, which the company will return as a one-of-a-kind iPod case. The “45” cases fit iPods from 20GB to 80GB and are made of thermoformed vinyl records, recycled felt padding, cork and an acrylic glass window. The center hole of each case’s record is positioned to fit around the iPod’s click wheel. The standard “45” cases are available for $45 and custom 7-inch orders are an additional $7.
The extraordinary amount of iPhone press coverage has already generated $400 million in free publicity for Apple, says Harvard Business School professor David Yoffie. “No other company has ever received that kind of attention for a product launch,” Yoffie says. “It’s unprecedented.”
AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier of the iPhone, will have a grand opening this week for a 5,000-square foot store in Houston, Texas—the first of 11 “AT&T Experience” stores the company plans to open this year.
SanDisk may benefit from Apple’s flash-memory intensive roadmap, according to a Wall Street analyst. The AP reports: “Although Apple is not a customer of SanDisk, and although the companies have competing flash memory-based MP3 players on the market, American Technology Research analyst Doug Freedman thinks Apple’s increasing orders for flash memory may help absorb oversupply and could help solidify prices.”
The Beatles’ record label has denied a report that the band’s music is about to be released online. “UK download site Wippit indicated it would be first to sell the songs in a headline on its press release pages,” reports BBC News. “EMI said the statement was untrue and has asked for it to be removed.”
The first clone of Apple’s second-generation iPod shuffle has made its way to market. The “Shuffle2-Style MP3 Player,” being sold by DealExtreme.com, appears to be nearly identical to Apple’s latest shuffle, sporting a colored aluminum enclosure, similar controls and dimensions, and built-in clip. A product description is not provided, but the knock-off player is available in two colors—red and black—for $18.89. An Apple-like “Shuffle II USB Data/Power Cradle” is being sold for $5.04. DealExtreme is also selling a second-generation iPod nano look-alike for only $26.50. Again, a product description is not given, but the “Nano2-Style MP4 Player 1G” appears to have an aluminum shell, color screen, and a click wheel-like control pad. A brand name for either player is not provided.
Apple’s aim of selling 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008 could be too lofty a goal, according to Forbes. Noting that the iPhone will compete in the smartphone handset segment, Forbes’ Taesik Yoon reports: “Worldwide shipments of converged mobile devices (i.e. smartphones) increased 42% year-over-year to 80.5 million units in 2006. It also remains under-penetrated and offers plenty of growth potential. But the bad news is that it currently represents less than 10% of the total number of handsets likely sold last year. This suggests a much smaller market for the iPhone than one might assume. Even if the growth in smart phones could support the sale of 10 million iPhones by 2008, Apple’s own strategic decisions could easily prevent the company from meeting its target. The most limiting of these is its decision to offer the product only through AT&T.”
Tailored clothing maker Bagir has created the Play List Jacket, a new iPod-compatible blazer designed exclusively for Express Men. “Outwardly, the Play List Jacket is contemporary and elegant in the newest slim, trim silhouette while, within its shell, the jacket is wired to play music,” says Bagir. “A strategically placed pocket has been designed to hold the music element while earphone wires can be set in place via hidden loops on the inner lapel. Want to change the music, pause, rewind, or adjust the volume? An individual can adjust the iPod through soft touch controls that are built into the inner lapel.” The jacket will be in Express Men stores later this month for $248.
European Union Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva is the latest to criticize Apple for its closed copy-protection system used by the iPod and iTunes. “Do you think it’s fine that a CD plays in all CD players but that an iTunes song only plays in an iPod? I don’t. Something has to change,” Kuneva said in a recent interview. A Commission spokeswoman in Brussels confirmed Kuneva’s comment, but said it represented the commissioner’s personal views. “I don’t think she was stating it as a definitive policy position. At this stage it is her gut instinct,” spokeswoman Helen Kearns said. Apple is facing pressure to open up its FairPlay digital rights management technology in countries such as Germany, France, Finland and Norway.
Today’s check of the iLounge Discussion Forums uncovered lots of interesting discussions - here are a few that caught our attention:
In I Just Bought my 23rd iPod, one iLounge reader catalogs the 23 iPods he’s purchased, and amazingly, only three of them were shuffles. See the discussion that ensued, including some surprising revelations by other iLounge readers.
In addition to a discussion titled Why I Hate the Red Nano, in which one reader takes issue with the (RED) campaign’s financial performance and Apple’s involvement with that cause, another discussion (Anyone Bought the Refurb 8GB Red Nanos) considers reader experiences in buying used iPods from Apple - with positive results. Have you bought a refurbished iPod? Share your views here.
Finally, readers discuss J&R Music World, a New York City mail order retailer that has bucked the city’s par experience by offering both good customer service and fairly aggressive prices for many years. Have you shopped at J&R? Have a better recommendation for other iLoungers?
These posts - and literally over 1,000,000 more - are yours for the reading in the iLounge Forums. Take a peek today and see what you’ve been missing!
To build upon iLounge’s large collection of desktop wallpaper images, we’ve launched the “Wallpaper Yourself an iPhone, Apple TV, or iPods” art contest. To enter, you just need to a create a high-resolution (1600 x 1200 pixels) desktop wallpaper featuring any current iPod model and the iLounge.com name. One grand prize winner will receive a 4GB iPhone, while a second place winner will get a new Apple TV set-top box. One third place winner will receive a 4GB iPod nano and a second-generation iPod shuffle in their choice of color. Click here for full contest rules and submission info.
The Wall Street Journal has an in-depth article looking at how Apple picks the artists it highlights on the front page of the iTunes Store, and what those spots mean to record labels and sales. “Apple has jettisoned some of the conventions of traditional music retailing—notably, the practice of selling prime promotional spots to recording companies willing to pay for better visibility for their acts,” the Journal reports. “But behind the scenes there’s plenty of horse-trading going on that influences which songs are seen and purchased by iTunes customers. Apple—now one of the largest sellers of music in the U.S.—offers home-page placement in exchange for things such as exclusive access to new songs, special discount pricing or additional material such as interviews with stars.”
According to music industry executives, an album can sell about five times more copies during a week when it is featured on the iTunes home page than an average week. “The decisions by the small group of Silicon Valley and music-industry veterans running iTunes can help put an unknown band on the map, adding millions of dollars in sales, while relegating others to the obscurity of the site’s virtual back bins,” reports the Journal. “iTunes is housed at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters in a cluster of nondescript cubicles that could easily be confused with a software-development group but for a smattering of music posters on the walls, according to people who have visited or worked there.”
Responding to a “stability issue” with its TriPort in-ear headphones, Bose has announced that it will release an updated version starting next week. The “new” headphones, which are identical to the existing models, will include improved interchangeable ear tips in three sizes, which Bose says offer a better, more-snug fit. Later this year, Bose will offer a wire clip and a neck lanyard for the TriPort in-ear headphones. Those who’ve already purchased the $100 in-ear headphones can get all three upgrades at no charge. Starting March 16, owners can order the new accessories on the company’s website at bose.com/enhance.
Palm, maker of the Treo line of smartphones, has hired former Apple employee and Silicon Valley software designer Paul Mercer to help the company respond to the iPhone. The New York Times reports that Mercer began work three weeks ago at Palm on a line of new products. Mercer joined Palm from Inventor, an independent design firm that he headed in Palo Alto, California. He joined Apple in 1987, working as the lead designer of the Macintosh finder. Mercer later founded Pixo, a mobile software firm that created the basis for the iPod interface. More recently, he helped design the Samsung Z5 digital audio device.