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Apple seeing slim profit on Apple TV

The Apple TV costs the company $237 to produce, BusinessWeek reports. Research firm iSuppli took the set-top box apart, and estimated the cost of components such as the Intel Pentium M variant ($40), accompanying Intel chipset ($28), 40GB hard drive ($37), and GeForce Go graphics chip ($15). The total of all the components ($237) leaves Apple a gross profit of $62, or around 20%, before marketing costs — a rarity for the company, which is known for its large gross margins.

“This is certainly a departure for Apple, or at least it’s approaching a departure,” says Andrew Rassweiler, analyst with iSuppli. “We made some very aggressive assumptions with this device, and by that I mean we assumed low prices on the components.” According to iSuppli, the 160GB model now being offered for $399, a $100 premium over the 40GB version, boosts the profit margin to more than 30%, due to the comparatively small $36 difference between Apple’s cost on the drives.

Speck debuts iPhone accessories

Speck Products has introduced its line of accessories for Apple’s iPhone (PDF link). The new line includes the SkinTight 2-pack with holster, which will be available in either black and clear or pink and clear, the ToughSkin with holster, which will be available in black and clear, the TechStyle Holster Pro, and the imageTechStyle Classic with holster, available in both black and brown with plaid. Both the new ToughSkin and SkinTight models sport new stand/swivel clip holsters. The new line will be available in mid-June, pricing information has yet to be released.

Incase intros two new Folios for iPod 5G

Incase has introduced two new Folio cases for fifth generation iPods. The Incase Nylon Folio features a black patterned nylon outer, an orange suede-lined iPod compartment, a slim pocket for small items like credit cards, and integrated iPod screen and Click Wheel covers. It sells for $30. imageThe Incase Leather Folio features a white icosahedron water molecule pattern on the upper flap of the blue leather outer, as well as a slim pocket, patterned tan suede-lined interior, and functional screen and Click Wheel covers. It sells for $40. Both cases are compatible with 30, 60, and 80GB fifth-generation iPods, and are available now.

iPhone requires Apple servers on network?

Speaking in an annual results webcast yesterday, Charles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, a European retailer of mobile phones and services, claimed that in order for the iPhone to function correctly, Apple servers must be placed “deep into the [operator’s] network.” Dunstone was responding to a question on whether his company had been in talks with Apple over the handset, or if there would be a network-specific deal like in the US. He replied: “It has to be in some form a deal with a network, because the way the iPhone works requires the operator to install a lot of servers and stuff deep into the network to supply some of the services to it. So if you buy the phone, say on Cingular in the US, and put a T-Mobile SIM [card] in it, it won’t work properly because T-Mobile won’t have all this proprietary stuff. So the first thing they have to do is do a deal with a network. I don’t think they’ve done that yet.” [via SeekingAlpha]

TheGadgetLocker.com announces iPod Recycling Program

Macintosh and iPod accessory retailer TheGadgetLocker.com has announced the launch of its iPod Recycling Program. The initiative is designed to give customers a convenient means of disposing of their old iPods, and receive incentive for participating. The company provides the shipping label and pays all shipping costs for the iPod, once it is received, the customer receives $20 in redeemable reward points. “We’re committed to providing our customers with a convenient green alternative for the proper disposal of old iPods,” said TheGadgetLocker.com founder and president, Joe Ryan. “We want our customers to not only enjoy all of TheGadgetLocker.com’s great products, but a healthier, cleaner planet as well.”

No Disk Mode for iPhone?

Unlike the iPod, iPod mini, nano, and shuffle, the iPhone lacks the ability to be used in Disk Mode, according to an article on Mac enthusiast site 9to5Mac, and therefore can only be synchronized with data using iTunes and associated helper applications such as iPhoto. The report, which the site attributes to a source at Apple, also claims that the iPhone includes support for tabbed web browsing, a VPN client for business users, and a vibration feature, but lacks an iChat application for instant messaging, at least in its current software revision. It also notes that the tested iPhone lacked a SIM card slot, which may have been attributable to the phone’s pre-production status. Apple representatives had no comment on the report.

Lala.com launches web-based iTunes service

Lala.com has announced its new web-based service that enables users to store their iTunes music library online for free, as well as fill their iPod from the web. Users of the service can also play and share music with others, and purchase music from Warner Music Group in both digital and CD format. “Before today music was ripped and trapped on PCs and Macs with desktop applications like iTunes. The iPod is the greatest portable music device ever invented, and as avid iPod fans we wanted to create a service that blends the convenience of the Web with the portability and functionality of a truly universal platform,” said Bill Nguyen, a founder of Lala.com. Use of the service requires the LalaPlayer, which is available as a free download for Windows or Mac.

Orbino unveils Genio Leather Case for 2G shuffle

Orbino has introduced its new Genio Leather Case and Headphone System for the second-generation iPod shuffle. The case features an integrated headphone cord winder, which allows users to easily adjust the cord length and store it away when not in use. Other features include a leather knotted lariat and integrated earbud cradles designed to avoid tangling. The Orbino Genio Leather Case and Headphone System for the second-generation iPod shuffle is available in a variety of leathers and other premium materials, and sells for $39.

Apple offers free iPod nano in ‘Major in Mac’ promotion

Apple has launched a new promotion for college students and faculty, called Major in Mac, which offers a free iPod nano with the purchase of any new Mac. To take part in the promotion, participants must purchase a qualifying Mac and qualifying iPod on the same sales receipt between now and September 16. While the promotion is aimed at the iPod nano, both nanos and fifth-generation iPods qualify for the promotion, which offers a $199 rebate after purchase. Claims can be made both online and through the mail.

iPhone knockoff found in southern China

Pictures and a brief hands-on of one of the first iPhone knockoffs have surfaced online. The knockoff comes in a black box adorned with an Apple-style graphic of a hand holding the less-than-authentic device. The text on the outside of the box includes the word “iPhone,” as well as “HD1080P,” referencing the high-definition television standard, and the phrase “Apple, the future is here.” Even more is written in Chinese.

imageThe device itself boasts several features, including a two megapixel camera, two SIM card slots that can be switched on-the-fly, and a microSD expansion slot. As for its performance, the phone was an obvious forgery with “clumsy” navigation handled with a stylus, despite the iPhone-like background and a splash screen that reads “ iPhone.” The back of the device also sports a false Apple logo above an iPhone label, and features a message of garbled English in place of Apple’s traditional “Designed by Apple in California.”

AT&T boosting EDGE speeds ahead of iPhone?

AT&T has ordered a last-minute upgrade of its EDGE throughput, latency, and coverage ahead of the iPhone launch, according to a Gizmodo report. An AT&T employee who works on Operations told the gadget site that the operation, internally referenced as “Fine Edge,” has been going on for as many as six weeks and wil continue until June 15. According to an internal document, the company is adding more T-1 connections to its poorest performing towers, hoping to boost the current standard of 40kbps to a new minimum of 80kbps. The iPhone hits store shelves June 29.

Mix: Jobs & Gates, Complete My Album, Plus data, Pacific Catch

Video and audio recordings from last week’s interview with Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates at the All Things Digital Conference are now available from the iTunes Store.

Apple has posted a new Knowledge Base article entitled “How Complete My Album works with iTunes Plus,” which explains that if you have the iTunes Plus option enabled, and you want iTunes Plus tracks when you use the Complete My Album feature, you must upgrade your existing tracks first.

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, commenting on users that are angry over personal data in iTunes Plus tracks, told Wired News, “In terms of sharing files, you’re not legally permitted to do that anyway… Just because you’ve taken away the locks on the doors doesn’t mean you can walk into someone’s house and walk away with the TV set.”

Mac blogger John Gruber has found the website of Pacific Catch, the seafood restaurant featured in the new iPhone commercial “Calamari.”

New iPod accessories in Free iPod Book 3.0

While several iPhone cases and accessories made their debut in The Free iPod Book 3.0, so did several noteworthy new iPod accessories, such as the Ultimate Ears UE-11, Geneva Lab Model M, the OLED-equipped Griffin iTrip Auto Scan, Belkin’s Power Dock and Power Dock AV, DreamGear i.Sound AudioStation, a second-generation iPod shuffle speaker system, and Belkin Dual USB Charger, which lets you charge an iPod and a mini-USB device at the same time. If you haven’t done so already, download The Free iPod Book 3.0 for more information on these and other new iPod accessories.

iPhone accessories unveiled in Free iPod Book 3.0

Along with the slew of new cases, several iPhone accessories also debuted in the pages of The Free iPod Book 3.0. The v-moda Vibe Duo combines a pair of v-moda earphones with a microphone, the DreamGear i.Sound RoadTalk packs a full-frequency FM transmitter with Bluetooth functionality, a built-in microphone, and a car charger in its relatively small body,image and the XtremeMac InCharge Series of iPod & iPhone Chargers consists of the InCharge wall charger, the InCharge Auto car charger, and the InCharge Travel, which includes wall, car, and plane chargers. Check out The Free iPod Book 3.0 for more complete coverage of these and other new iPod and iPhone accessories.

Rubinstein, Anderson to join Palm board

As part of a strategic relationship between the private equity firm Elevation Partners and Palm, former senior vice president of Apple’s iPod Division Jon Rubinstein, and Fred Anderson, former Apple CFO, will be joining Palm’s board of directors. Rubinstein will join as executive chairman of the board, while Anderson, along with Elevation partner Roger McNamee, will replace Eric Benhamou and D. Scott Mercer on the board. Palm CEO Ed Colligan said, “Jon Rubinstein is one of the top engineering executives in Silicon Valley, and he will lead our product-development efforts.”

Rubinstein added, “I have tremendous respect for Ed Colligan, Jeff Hawkins and their team, and I am thrilled by the prospect of helping Palm deliver innovative products capable of transforming the mobile-device market. Approximately 1 billion cell phones are sold each year, and mobile computing is a category with enormous potential. This is a company with an impressive history of introducing game-changing products – it pioneered the smartphone – and I intend to help extend that legacy.”

Third-party apps for iPhone coming at WWDC?

Apple plans to announce that it will make it possible for third-party developers to easily convert small Macintosh programs to run on the iPhone, according to a New York Times report. A person briefed on Apple’s plans claims the announcement will come at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, which begins with a keynote address from Steve Jobs at 10:00a.m. Pacific, on Monday, June 11. Jobs stated in his January keynote that third-party apps posed too large of a security and stability risk for the handset, only to slowly backtrack on that statement. Last week at the D: All Things Digital conference, he claimed the company was trying to find a way to allow third-party apps on the iPhone.

160GB Apple TV arrives, with pictures (updated)

Initial shipments of Apple’s new 160GB Apple TV ($399) began to arrive this morning, so we’ve cracked a box open to look for differences between this new model and its 40GB predecessor. There aren’t many to report.

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As noted on Apple’s web site, the new Apple TV ships with a model number of MB189LL/A, versus its predecessor’s MA711LL/A, and as before, there is a difference between its formatted capacity and its stated capacity. Previously, the 40GB Apple TV had 32.84GB of storage space, owing to space required by the device’s operating system and undeletable media files. The 160GB Apple TV has a formatted capacity of 144.75GB—actually 4.4 times that of the 40GB model, which means that Apple’s stated “36,000 song” statement of the device’s storage is, as the company has subsequently confirmed, conservative. Using Apple’s standard benchmarks, this Apple TV would fall just shy of storing 40,000 songs and nothing else, a moot point only in that few people have 10,000 songs in their libraries, let alone more.

 

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Cosmetically and in packaging, the 160GB unit appears to be otherwise identical to the 40GB model. It still includes software version 1.0, and there aren’t any obvious changes to its menus, body, or features save for the capacity bump. Neither its box nor the device inside includes a large 160GB badge of any sort, which is somewhat surprising as we’ve been told to expect the new Apple TV to appear in retail stores in the near future, and conspicuous capacity differences are typically signaled on iPod boxes. Here, like on a Mac computer box, the only obvious differences are in the model number sticker on the side, which doesn’t state capacity, and on another small sticker where the 160GB spec is buried alongside other product details. It is entirely possible that Apple’s release of the 160GB Apple TV was rushed, and that updated packaging will follow for use in retail locations.

Updated: The 160GB Apple TVs have begun to appear in Apple’s retail stores today, bearing the same small and non-descript capacity indication shown above. iLounge editor Jesse Hollington reports that the most conspicuous signs of the 160GB unit’s presence are the higher $399 prices on Apple’s box stickers and shelves, so if you’re looking to pick up the newer version, the price tag and small black sticker above will help you confirm you have the 160GB model.

iPhone cases debut in Free iPod Book 3.0

Several new iPhone accessories made their debut in The Free iPod Book 3.0, including a slew of new cases like the Belkin Armband for iPhone, Griffin Streamline, Marware SportGrip Backwinder for iPhone,image Marware C.E.O. QuickVue, and the Belkin Holster for iPhone. Also unveiled were the Griffin Elan Sleeve, Belkin Acrylic Case for iPhone, Griffin iClear for iPhone, Power Support Crystal Jacket Set and Crystal Film Set for iPhone, and the Marware Sidewinder for iPhone. Be sure to check out The Free iPod Book 3.0 for complete coverage of these and other new iPod and iPhone accessories.

iPhone coming June 29, three ads launched (updated)

Announced in January for a June release, Apple’s iPhone finally has a street date: June 29, 2007. In a series of three commercials now found on Apple.com, and beginning to air on television, Apple announces the date while touting the phone’s versatility as an iPod, cell phone, and mobile Internet device. The commercials, “Never Been an iPod,” “How To,” and “Calamari,” show the phone switching effortlessly from feature to feature, rendering easy and straightforward transitions from media playback to e-mailing, web browsing, and Google Maps.

Each commercial ends with the disclaimer that “(u)se requires minimum new 2 year activation plan” with AT&T. No major new features are shown, but the screens now highlight the AT&T logo and include a Bluetooth icon alongside the battery life indicator at the screen’s upper right corner. Several of the icons have also changed slightly in position from their original places; consequently, it’s unclear whether you can manually rearrange the icons on the system’s home menu, or whether they’ve been permanently moved. A demonstration of email functionality now contains a bottom-of-screen “Updated” listing noting when email was last synchronized, plus two-line summaries of message content rather than the one-line summaries shown in prior demonstrations.

Additional small details are also evident. The unit’s top now clearly shows a concave headphone port, rather than the purely flat surface found on the tops of iPods; how this may impact headphone plug compatibility is unclear. Apple now also refers to its Safari web application as “Safari” on the main menu rather than as “Web,” keeping the iPhone application’s branding consistent with the OS X application.

iPodweek and Forums: iPhone, iTunes Plus, Worn-out Logos

It’s Friday, which means two things at iLounge: our weekly newsletter iPodweek is coming later today, and it’s time for a roundup of what’s happening in our forums. To sign up for iPodweek, use the simple submission form here:

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New in the iLounge Discussion Forums this week: readers in the iPhone Forum have started their own mini-poll: Are you going to buy the new iPhone? So far, more than 2/3 of responses said “yes,” but at least half of the “yes” votes are waiting on price drops. Add your vote to the thread, which is also generating interesting discussions, but bear in mind—you may just ‘think different’ about price when you actually try iPhone yourself.

In our iTunes Store Forum, readers are actively discussing iTunes Plus downloads, including upgrading on a whole library or song-by-song basis, DRM-free benefits of iTunes Plus, network errors, and name/email address tagging. If you have an opinion on iTunes Plus, the iTunes Store Forum might be the right place to express it.

Finally, in our iPod shuffle Forum, readers are discussing how their iPod shuffle rear logo art is coming off, either through smudges, lines, or worse. Is there finally a reason to justify a case for the lowest-end iPod?

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