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TEN Technology closes shop

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iPod accessory maker TEN Technology has quietly shut down, according to a brief note on the company’s website. “TEN Technology, Inc. has ceased operations at this time. Please check back at a later date for more information,” the note reads. TEN is best known for its wireless naviPlay Bluetooth accessories and naviPod wireless remote controls. iLounge is currently awaiting a response from company representatives.

Apple sells 100 millionth iPod [updated]

  • April 9, 2007
  • iPod

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Apple today announced that it has sold the 100 millionth iPod. “The first iPod was sold five and a half years ago, in November 2001, and since then Apple has introduced more than 10 new iPod models, including five generations of iPod, two generations of iPod mini, two generations of iPod nano and two generations of iPod shuffle,” Apple said in its announcement of the milestone. “Along with iTunes and the iTunes online music store, the iPod has transformed how tens of millions of music lovers acquire, manage and listen to their music.” Apple has also updated its website with the graphic shown here, along with a message thanking music lovers everywhere.

Updated: Apple representatives this morning told iLounge that details about the 100 millionth iPod—the model and color of which are unknown—are yet to be disclosed by the company, though it appears to be in the company’s possession rather than on a store’s shelves awaiting sale. Long-time iPod watchers will recall that Apple announced in January, 2005 that it was keeping the commemoratively engraved 10 millionth iPod as a momento.

What’s next for the company? “We’ve been pretty aggressive in this space,” said Apple Vice President of Hardware Product Marketing Greg Joswiak, listing all of the iPod generations that have come before, without naming any new addition to the family. Though iPhone is coming in June, Joswiak said that it—like Apple TV—is a separate business for the company, and not a replacement for the iPod.

In addition to the iPod’s sales velocity—reaching the 100 million sold mark faster than any music player in history—the company is marking the launch of over 4,000 accessories specifically designed for iPod, with more to come. One previously announced new category of iPod integration—iPod-to-airplane entertainment system connectivity—is coming “this year,” with additional details soon to follow.

Forums: iPod reliability, iTunes servers, Classified Ads, Prices

This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums:

Users have started to debate whether recent iPod models suffer from serious reliability problems, or whether complaints of iPod failures are too hard to swallow. Do you have an experience - positive or negative - worth sharing?

For more than a month, some forum members have been noticing apparent iTunes Store server problems - lags and timeouts when searching for content. One user says that the Store times out every time he tries to search for an artist or album that isn’t available. Have you noticed any hiccups? Add your thoughts to the thread.

If you’ve been looking to buy or sell a used iPod or accessory, you’ve probably hunted through our Classifieds section. But if you haven’t visited, now might be the time: readers are looking to buy everything from working but scratched 5G iPods to second-generation iPod shuffles. Want to trade colored cases? Take a look - you might just be able to turn your old iPod gear into cash for something new.

Finally, in a discussion that’s been ongoing since 2003, readers from around the world talk about how much they’ve paid for their iPods. In the past month or so, a handful of readers from Vietnam, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. have added their prices. How much did you pay for your iPod, and where?

$38 million ‘iPod bill’ introduced in Michigan

  • April 6, 2007
  • iPod

As part of a government agenda unveiled by House Democrats in Michigan that introduces dramatic changes, a bill was put forward Friday that includes a proposal to provide $38 million in iPods or other MP3 players as instructional tools for every student in the state. The schools representatives were not as receptive as one would expect, however. “My members are telling me they have much more pressing things they’re worried about, like whether they’re going to be able to make payroll in May,” said Don Wotruba, spokesman for the Michigan Association of School Boards.

Podolock secures, protects iPod shuffle

imageComputer Spectrum has introduced a new case/security product for the second-generation iPod shuffle, the Podolock. The Podolock consists of an acrylic case paired with a locking keyring, making it possible to “lock” your shuffle to a belt loop or purse while still having full access to the shuffle’s controls and ports. The device can also be used as a keychain. Other Podolock models for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano are listed as “Coming Soon.” The Podolock for iPod shuffle is available now for $20. [via Gizmodo]

‘Virus’ doesn’t pose threat to iPod users

  • April 6, 2007
  • iPod

Russian security software firm Kaspersky Lab claims that it has discovered the first virus to infect iPods, but said the “proof of concept” virus does not pose a real threat. Kaspersky said the virus, named Podloso, will only run on iPods that have had Linux installed over the original Apple software, and that the virus files must to be loaded onto the iPod by the user. Also, Podloso cannot spread to other iPods.

“Once launched, the virus scans the device’s hard disk and infects all executable .elf format files,” explains Kaspersky. “Any attempt to launch these files will cause the virus to display a message on the screen which says “You are infected with Oslo the first iPodLinux Virus.’ It does not have a malicious payload and is unable to spread on its own: a user has to save the virus to the iPod for the device to become infected.”

Tunewear announces Moccasin, Rawhide iPod cases

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Tunewear has introduced two new leather case collections for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The Prie Moccasin line includes the same case design in five colors—pink, blue, yellow, green and black. The cases feature a hand strap and flip cover design. The Prie Rawhide collection consists of an assortment of five cases available in either brown or black colors with distinctive eyelets and stitch designs. Each case offers a belt clip and flip cover. A transparent protective film for the screen and click wheel is included with every case. All cases, in sizes to fit the 5G iPod and nano, are priced at $30.

iPod saves soldier’s life in Iraq

  • April 5, 2007
  • iPod

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A U.S. Army soldier in Iraq was saved by his iPod after the device took a bullet from an AK-47, according to a report and photos posted on Flickr.

“Kevin Garrad with the 3rd Infantry Division was patrolling the streets of Iraq when he rounded a corner and went face to face with a gun-toting insurance,” reports TG Daily. “Gun fire was exchanged and Garrad was hit in the chest. The insurgent was killed. At point blank range an AK-47 round is devastating and has a decent chance of passing through the Interceptor body armor vests used by Army soldiers, but the iPod apparently slowed the bullet enough to be stopped completely by Garrad’s vest.”

EMI offers first ‘premium’ DRM-free album in MP3

EMI has announced that its first “premium” DRM-free album, the self-titled The Good, The Bad, and the Queen, is now available in 320 kbps MP3 format from the band’s store, which is powered by UK-based digital media delivery company 7digital. The Good, The Bad, and the Queen is headed by Damon Albarn, who is also frontman of Blur, and Gorillaz, and was present at the EMI/Apple announcement on Monday. EMI has offered DRM-free tracks in the past, but not at the higher bitrate used for this release. EMI’s DRM-free offerings won’t be available on the iTunes Store until May, where they will be offered in 256 kbps AAC format, offering roughly the same quality as this 320 kbps MP3 format release.

Elgato to intro H.264 video encoder device

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Elgato, maker of television viewing and recording products for Macs, will soon announce a tiny new USB 2.0 device that will speed up the encoding of video for use on the iPod, Apple TV and iPhone. The Elgato Turbo.264 is a Mac-only H.264 video encoder that accelerates video exports to iPod and Apple TV formats (H.264 in 640 x 480 or 320 x 240) from any application that uses QuickTime export. According to Elgato representatives, the device will be integrated with the company’s EyeTV software and will also come with an application that allows you to export files via drag-and-drop. Users will be able to export any file that QuickTime can decode natively or via third party components (DivX, Flip4Mac, etc.). Speed improvement numbers were not provided by the company. The Elgato Turbo.264 will be available by the end of April for $99.

DRM-free AAC gives Apple boost against WMA

The announcement of DRM-free AAC tracks from the iTunes Store is the latest blow to Microsoft’s WMA format, Arik Hesseldahl writes for BusinessWeek. The move allows players other than the iPod, including devices from SanDisk, Creative, and Sharp, as well as the PSP and Zune, to play tracks purchased from the iTunes Store. Hesseldahl believes this chance for iTunes compatibility, along with bruised relationships from the PlaysForSure/Zune debacle, could lead to competing players adding AAC support while possibly dropping costly support for WMA.

In response to this possible market change, Hesseldahl suggests that many of the other online music stores, such as Napster, Yahoo! Music, and URGE, may follow suit and begin selling DRM-free AAC content as well, giving iTunes more direct competition — but also expanding the catalog of iPod-compatible music available online. This would lead to more iPod sales for Apple, and force Microsoft into a decision on whether or not to abandon WMA-based efforts entirely, Hesseldahl believes.

Rogers dismisses iPhone ‘speculation’

Rogers Wireless is backpedaling on its previous claims that it would carry Apple’s iPhone in Canada. “We haven’t announced whether we will carry the iPhone,” Odette Coleman, manager of corporate communications for Rogers Wireless, told CBC News. “Everything in the media has been speculation to this point. The only fact is that we are the only GSM carrier in Canada. That’s the only fact.” In a customer service email sent in January, Rogers said the company was “actively working with Apple to launch the iPhone in Canada as soon as possible and will be the exclusive provider of the iPhone in Canada.” Despite Rogers’ statement this week, it is the only carrier in Canada that operates on the GSM wireless standard, which the iPhone uses.

eMusic launches new subscription plans

imageeMusic has announced that it is expanding its music offerings with three new subscription plans. eMusic subscription plans differ from most online subscriptions in that the subscriber doesn’t rent the music — users are charged a certain amount each month for a set number of downloads, which the user then owns. The new subscriptions are named “Connoisseur Plans” for the high number of downloads per month that each plan offers.

The Basic Connoisseur Plan offers 100 downloads per month for a $24.99 fee, the Plus Connoisseur Plan offers 200 downloads for $49.99 per month, and the Premium Connoisseur Plan offers 300 tracks for a monthly fee of $74.99. All three new Connoisseur Plans offer an average download cost of $.25 per track, assuming that all the download credits are used. eMusic is the world’s second-largest digital music service after iTunes, and offers its entire catalog in DRM-free MP3 format.

DLO debuts Shell cases for 2G iPod nano

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Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has announced its new line of Shell cases for Apple’s second-generation iPod nano. Available in five nano-matching colors, each DLO Shell comes with two interchangeable backs—a smooth, transparent back and a reinforced, opaque back with a built-in belt clip. The polycarbonate cases also offer docking port and hold switch access. The DLO Shell cases for iPod nano sell for $20 each.

RadTech intros new shuffle accessories

imageRadTech recently introduced three new accessories for the second-generation iPod shuffle. The Acclaro case for iPod shuffle features hard-shell construction that can bend without breaking and allows access to the shuffle’s controls, audio port, and integrated clip. It also features small channels at either end of the case to help with cord management. The Acclaro case for iPod shuffle is available now for $10.

The ProCable for iPod shuffle is a small charge and sync cable for the shuffle. It measures only six inches long, weighs 10 grams, and is in stores now for $9. The RetractCable for iPod shuffle is another dock replacement cable. It features a 31-inch charge and sync cable inside a compact retractable housing. It is also available now, and sells for $10.

iPod film festival finalists available for download

The Flux 2007 iPod Film Festival is now online, with all finalist short films available for free download. The festival awards prizes to filmmakers in three categories—Student Film, Indie Film and The Kitchen Sink—and winners will be determined by viewer ratings, along with a festival jury, which this year includes Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. In addition to voting, visitors can also participate in a new community section, leaving their own reviews of the films, messages for the filmmakers, and blogs by the filmmakers. The short films will be available for download until judging ends on June 28th.

Mix: i-Cy, Best Tech, EMI notes, Linkin Park

  • April 3, 2007

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The i-Cat and i-Dog get a new friend with Hasbro’s new i-Cy penguin ($30). The “musical pet” lights up, flaps his flippers and tilts his head to music from a connected iPod.

Apple leads PC World’s “The 50 Best Tech Products of All Time” list with seven products. The original iPod came in at No. 6 and iTunes 4 at No. 21.

Following yesterday’s DRM-free iTunes announcement, Gizmodo has posted some interesting notes from a conversation with an EMI spokesperson about the initiative.

The iTunes Store is now exclusively offering the first single from Linkin Park’s upcoming album, Minutes to Midnight. In addition, iTunes customers who pre-order the album will get two bonus tracks.

New Bose TriPort IE tips arrive, with pictures

After holding a press conference last month to announce that it would update several parts of its TriPort IE In-Ear Headphones in response to consumer complaints, Bose today delivered the first of those parts: three sets of new silicone ear tips. Substantially similar to their predecessors (shown below, right), which were discussed in our review, the new silicone tips (left) are slightly more firm and designed to remain bonded to the earphones, but do not address the concerns of those who found them uncomfortably shaped and/or unstable in their ears. The latter concern will be addressed by a wire clip and neck lanyard, which are set for delivery later this year.

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Information on obtaining the new parts at no charge can be found here. The new ear tips, which unlike the prior versions have dots in the centers of their inner arrowheads, ship via UPS, with instructions and a letter of explanation.

Apple ranked last in ‘greenness’

Greenpeace International has Apple placed last in its recent rankings for environmental friendliness among major electronics companies. A spokesperson for Greenpeace claims Apple failed to stop using several types of harmful chemicals in its manufacturing processes, and has yet to make a plan for stopping their use. Apple, meanwhile, is rejecting the rankings, claiming its products are among the “greenest” in the world.

“We disagree with Greenpeace’s rating and the criteria they chose,” Apple spokeswoman Sheryl Seitz said, reading a prepared statement. “Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well as many BFRs (brominated flame retardants).”

DRM-free video from iTunes unlikely

Following this week’s announcement of DRM-free music from EMI in the iTunes Store, many are calling for a similar plan to offer DRM-free video at the store. Jobs’ stance on video DRM, however, differs greatly from his views on music. During the EMI conference call, Jobs was asked about the potential for a similar DRM lift on video. “Video is pretty different from music right now because the video industry does not distribute 90 per cent of their content DRM free. Never has. So I think they are in a pretty different situation and I wouldn’t hold it to a parallel at all,” Jobs responded.

Due to Apple’s 10 percent share of US music sales, it is in a good position to negotiate with the music industry. This is not the case when it comes to video, where Apple has yet to prove itself. “No movie studio would ever support the iTunes store if it was clear that Jobs would be pushing them to remove DRM,” said James McQuivey, a principal analyst at Forrester Research.

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