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DoCoMo confirms talks with Apple

NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s top mobile operator, has confirmed previous reports that the company is in talks with Apple to carry the iPhone. “It is true that Mr Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. and our president (Masao) Nakamura held a meeting,” an NTT DoCoMo spokesman said, declining to reveal the timing or content of the discussions. Citing unnamed sources, Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported that Apple sees DoCoMo as its top choice in the region; however, the carrier may be opposed to Apple’s demands for a share of subscriber revenue. Earlier this week it was reported that Apple is in talks with both DoCoMo and Softbank Mobile, a DoCoMo rival, to carry the iPhone in Japan.

Mix: Cover Stream, iZap, Avaya, Think Secret

  • December 20, 2007

Snarb.tk has released the inaugural version of its Cover Stream software for Mac, which lets users put iTunes’ Cover Flow interface in a floating window on their Desktop. Features include the ability to “flip-browse” through the albums in an iPhone-like style and global hotkeys. Cover Stream requires a consolidated iTunes library and Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

ZAP has revealed that it will debut its new iZAP line of iPod mobile rechargers at Macworld Expo in January. “The iZAP line is the off-shoot of ZAP’s research into a better electric car battery,” said ZAP CEO, Steve Schneider. The line will include the RO8-IV, a specially designed battery pack for the fifth-generation iPod that will feature aluminum housing, lightweight lithium polymer cells and a silicon protective cover.

Avaya has announced that its one-X Mobile client software, expected to be available in Europe in the first quarter of 2008, will enable the iPhone to be integrated into most enterprise IP telecommunications networks. According to the company, it “will allow employees to add Apple’s iconic device to their Christmas present wish-lists without fear of the IT department dismissing it as ‘incompatible’ with the business’ IT systems and networks.”

Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, resulting in the long time Apple product rumor site shutting down. “As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published,” said a note on Think Secret’s site, which published a number of tips from Apple insiders regarding unannounced products. Nick Ciarelli, Think Secret’s publisher, added, “I’m pleased to have reached this amicable settlement, and will now be able to move forward with my college studies and broader journalistic pursuits.”

Tunewear intros Prie Rawhide for iPod nano 3G

Tuewear has introduced its Prie Rawhide case for the iPod nano (with video). The Prie Rawhide is a flip-style leather case that is designed without hooks or clips to minimize bulk and make the case more pocketable. The flip-up front cover offers protection for the nano’s screen and Click Wheel, as does included Tunefilm clear protective film. The Tunewear Prie Rawhide for iPod nano (with video) is available now in black leather with four eyelets and in tan hunter leather with cross stitch; models in tan hunter leather with side stitch and in black leather with a single eyelet hanging tag will be available soon. All four models sell for $25 each.

Tekkeon debuts new iPhone case lineup

Tekkeon has introduced its new lineup of cases for the iPhone, including the Hard Case with Soft Touch and a trio of leather offerings. The Hard Case with Soft Touch is a hard case with a soft-feeling exterior, and also features a removable flip-up transparent protective cover for the iPhone’s screen, as well as a removable belt clip. It is available in five different colors and sells for $30. Also available is the Leather Sleeve case, which comes in black or pink and features a bi-directional swivel clip and a myGuard screen protector, and the Wallet Case and Flip Case, both of which feature a leather exterior, a protective flap, a non-magnetic closure, a business/credit card pocket, and a removable strap (wallet) or clip (flip). The three leather cases are available now and sell for $30, $33, and $33, respectively.

New hack brings iPod touch-like interface to iPod 5G

  • December 20, 2007
  • iPod,

A new firmware hack for fifth-generation iPods aims to bring an iPod touch-like interface to the player. The hack, which works on both 5 and 5.5G iPods, is unsupported by Apple, but the developers claim the firmware “cannot, and will not, brick your iPod.” Installation of the firmware requires iPodWizard 1.3.0.7, a Windows-only iPod utility. The hack adds icons from the iPod touch’s home menu to the main menu of the iPod, along with music icons at the bottom of the music menu, rearranged menus, and updated graphics, including an iPhone and iPod touch-like Now Playing screen. The firmware is available now as a free download.

Mix: iToner, Quicken, Voyager, NPD

  • December 19, 2007

Ambrosia Software has released iToner 1.0.4, the latest version of its custom iPhone ringtone software offering support for iPhone software version 1.1.2. According to release notes, iToner 1.0.4 also offers “more robust iPhone OS 1.1.1 support to fix non-playing ringtones, fixed a bug with the playlists being updated when a ringtone was added from iTunes, and other bug fixes and enhancements.”

Intuit has announced plans to launch a version of its Quicken personal finance software for the iPhone that will be marketed as a service and will cost $3 a month. According to Reuters, the software has been designed to “appeal to younger consumers, people who may have used online banking… but do not use software to track those transactions.” Quicken for iPhone is expected to be officially announced January 8.

A review of the iPhone-competitor Verizon Voyager by the Chicago Tribune has found the handheld to be “second-rate” when compared to the iPhone, also calling Verizon’s V Cast music service “clunky” while declaring that the Voyager is a “good phone.”

New research by The NPD Group has found that more Mac users buy music both digitally and on CD than their PC-using counterparts, and also upload more music to their MP3 players, and listen to more music on their computers. “Apple’s growing share in the personal computing environment - and continued success with iPod sales - is a potential harbinger for the continued growth of digital music,” said Russ Crupnick, vice president and entertainment industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Proporta announces Shine, Mini Mod cases for iPod nano 3G

Proporta has introduced its Shine and Mini Mod Alu-Leather cases for the iPod nano (with video). The Shine is a flip-style patent leather case with magnetic closure, internal mirror, removable lanyard, and cut-outs for access to the nano’s ports and hold switch. It sells for $40. The Mini Mod Alu-Leather case features a leather exterior with a white stripe that is wrapped around a thin sheet of aluminum for added protection, as well as a magnetic closure and in-case access to the nano’s ports and controls. It sells for $46. The Proporta Shine and Mini Mod Alu-Leather cases for iPod nano (with video) come in black or red and are available now from Proporta.com.

iPhone second in Q3 smartphone market share

According to figures provided by Canalys and published by Symbian, the iPhone accounted for 27% of all smartphone sales in North America in Q3, besting the entire lineup of Windows Mobile-based smartphones, as well as others running Symbian, Linux, and Palm operating systems, and placing second only to the RIM Blackberry. The iPhone’s debut in second place (Q3 was the first full quarter of sales for the handset) is particularly notable because its competition was available from multiple carriers, and in Mexico in Canada, while the iPhone was only available in the region from AT&T in the U.S. Perhaps not coincidentally, Symbian has stopped publishing detailed stats on its Fast Facts web page, as it has done in the past, instead placing them in a separate, little publicized document.

iPowerRush offers extended life to iPhone, iPods

Fusion Audio Technologies has introduced the iPowerRush, a portable, battery-powered charger for the iPhone and Dock-enabled iPods that claims to increase the run time of the devices by “more than 50 percent.” The unit is comprised of the main charger body, which holds six AAA batteries and features a sliding power switch and a push-button power indicator, and a short cord with a Dock Connector at the end. “This is a great holiday present for all iPhone and iPod users, especially since the iPhone and iPod batteries are not user-replaceable,” said Ken Klarfeld, president of Fusion Audio Technologies, Inc., the U.S. distributor of the product. The iPowerRush is available now from ipowerrush.com and sells for $30.

JayBird unveils Bluetooth headset, iPod adapter

JayBird Gear has introduced its JB-100 Bluetooth Stereo Headset and JB-BA-100i Bluetooth adapter for iPod. The JB-100 Bluetooth Stereo Headset is designed for listening to music and for taking calls, featuring noise and echo suppression technology. JayBird claims the JB-100 is the “smallest Bluetooth stereo headset ever made,” and it also features water and sweat resistance, along with an included charging dock and carrying pouch. The JB-BA-100i Bluetooth adapter for iPod is a Dock Connector-based adapter that enables the iPod to output 16-bit stereo audio using A2DP. It is compatible with every generation of iPod nano, the iPod touch, iPod classic, and fifth-generation iPod. For those using iPod shuffles or other devices, the JB-BA-100m Bluetooth adapter connects to any audio device with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The JayBird JB-100 Bluetooth Stereo Headset sells for $130; the adapters sell for $50 each. All three accessories are available now.

Hudson releases Bomberman as iPod game

  • December 18, 2007
  • iPod,

Best known to fans of Nintendo and NEC game consoles from the 1980s, Hudson Soft’s Bomberman has been released as a downloadable iPod game. The $4.99 title—third on today’s list of brand-new iPod games—places you in control of a robot who uses bombs to make his way through mazes full of enemies and obstacles. Bomberman includes 20 levels, an iPod-exclusive boss challenge, and three mini games: Bomb Rollin’, Bomb Buster, and Bowling for Bombs. It works with fifth-generation iPods, third-generation iPod nanos, and iPod classics. [Thanks, Tazfan!]

Sababa Toys rolls out iNo iPod game system

Sababa Toys has introduced the iNo, a new music trivia game system with a built-in iPod Dock. The object of the game is for players to guess the album, artist, or song that plays (or a combination of these) when an iPod is placed into the module. The iNo game system includes a music player with a built-in speaker, four electronic wireless remote controls that stop the music when activated and lock out the other players, and four color-coded scoreboards on the base of the device that keep track of players’ right and wrong guesses. Sababa Toys’ iNo Game System requires 6 AA batteries and is available now at Target.com for $60.

GizMac ships Titan Clear iPhone Case with Holster

GizMac has announced that it is now shipping its Titan Clear iPhone Case with Holster. The case is made from clear polycarbonate, and features built-in vertical and horizontal kickstands, an included thin film screen protector, as well as a rotating belt clip holster designed to hold the iPhone while in the case. It also provides access to the iPhone’s controls, camera, and ports. “GizMac set out to develop an Apple iPhone product that lives up to the high standards set for all our previous and future products” said Ken Vitto, Director of Marketing for GizMac Accessories. “We believe the Titan Clear for iPhone exceeds the form, function and value criteria we engineer into our products for our customers.” The GizMac Titan Clear iPhone Case with Holster is available now and sells for $35.

iPod touch teardown suggests component cost of $147

  • December 18, 2007
  • iPod,

A recent teardown of the iPod touch by research firm iSuppli suggests that the total cost of components for the 8GB model is $147, or around half of the device’s $299 retail price. iSuppli’s Andrew Rassweiler believes that the iPod touch will likely serve as a blueprint for future iPods, saying, “We expect the click-wheel versions of the iPod to wane in favor of touch-screen-based models.” Inside the 8GB iPod touch, iSuppli found around $32 of flash memory chips, supplied by Toshiba, a Samsung-supplied main video-audio chip costing around $13 (along with an additional $12 worth of memory from the chipmaker), and other chips from suppliers including Broadcom, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments. iSuppli also estimates that the device’s touch screen accounts for nearly $44 of the material cost. Overall, the firm expects sales of the iPod touch to fall in between those of the iPod nano and iPod classic, with Rassweiler saying he expects Apple to sell around 8.5 million touches in the first year.

Apple in talks to launch iPhone in Japan

According to a new report, Apple is in talks (Subscription req.) with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and Softbank concerning the launch of the iPhone in the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the situation say Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently met with NTT DoCoMo’s president, Masao Nakamura, to discuss a deal to offer the iPhone in Japan. NTT DoCoMo is Japan’s largest cellular provider, and it has been suggested that it is likely to be Apple’s first choice as partner, as the company has shown a strong preference for signing agreements with top mobile operators. The same sources also said that Apple has also been in discussions with No. 3 operator Softbank Corp., and that executives from both companies have made multiple trips to its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. None of the three companies has yet commented on the report.

Apple posts two new, three updated iPod games

  • December 18, 2007
  • iPod,

Apple has released two new iPod games, Sonic The Hedgehog and Peggle, along with new versions of The Sims Bowling, The Sims Pool, and Pac-Man, updated for compatibility with the iPod classic and iPod nano (with video). Sonic The Hedgehog from Sega was originally released in 1991, and more than 45 million copies of the game have been sold worldwide. “Sonic The Hedgehog is one of the most beloved video game characters of all time,” said Simon Jeffery, President and COO of SEGA of America, “And with the installed base that iPod enjoys Sonic now becomes available to a whole new group of casual and hardcore gamers just in the time for the holidays.” In Peggle, from PopCap, “players fire a metallic silver ball from the top of the screen, relying on gravity to propel the ball downwards while it ricochets off orange and blue ‘pegs’. The goal is to clear all the orange pegs from the screen before running out of balls.” “The clickwheel input of the iPod is a natural fit for controlling Peggle, so we knew this adaptation of the game would be amazing,” said Jason Kapalka, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of PopCap. All five games are available now from the iTunes Store and sell for $4.99 each. [via iFun]

Mix: iPhone, locoGPS, Apple TV, Land Rover, Koch

  • December 17, 2007

New research has found that the iPhone is the most popular mobile on the Holiday wish lists of 13 to 25-year-olds in the U.S. Peanut Labs surveyed 1175 “Gen-Y” consumers, 34 percent of whom say they plan to spend more than $300 on consumer electronics purchases this Holiday season.

The partFoundry has revealed that it is developing an external GPS dongle for the iPhone. The locoGPS will connect to the iPhone via Dock Connector and will utilize open source, community-based software to interface with the iPhone and the Google Maps application. The company says the locoGPS will begin shipping in February, coinciding with Apple’s announced release of a third-party software development kit for the iPhone.

A new study by ABI Research says that the Apple TV is leading “a new breed” of internet video delivery devices. The group also said the new category of devices “will see shipments of 1.2 million in 2008.” Michael Wolf, director of research with ABI, said, “we believe that there is a possibility of a break-out success among these new entrants if they can create compelling content offerings, make consumer installation and management incredibly easy, and offer both the hardware and content at compelling pricing.”

Land Rover has unveiled its new LRX concept vehicle, which features an iPhone docking system as an integral feature of the design. In addition to the iPhone Dock positioned in the center console, the LRX also features “removable and power-adjustable speakers [that] include an iPod docking station.” It appears that docking an iPhone in the vehicle causes a different home screen to load, featuring a prominent “Start” button, presumably for the engine, and select iPhone applications including Google Maps, Weather, Clock, and Calendar. [via Engadget]

Independent music label Koch Records has announced that its catalog is now available DRM-free through iTunes Plus. Bob Frank, President of KOCH Records, says, “KOCH Records continues to embrace new delivery methods and technologies as we always have. We have never buried our heads in the sand and have reaped the benefits as we have the best year in our history.”

Metallo Design intros Gilty Couture luxury iPod accessories

Metallo Design has introduced its new Gilty Couture line of gold, silver, and Swarovski crystal accoutrements for the iPod and iPhone. The new collection includes slide-on bezels for the iPhone and iPod touch, which are available in gold or silver with differently-colored Swarovski crystals in each, and are priced between $100 and $130. Also available are “Jewelry Cover” cases for the fifth-generation iPod, iPod classic, second- and third-generation iPod nano, and second-generation iPod shuffle. All models except for the shuffle feature a two-piece slide-together design, allowing full access to all controls and ports, EVA foam interior lining, and an included micropolish storage and cleaning pouch. Cases for the iPod shuffle feature a one-piece faceplate design, as well as the foam lining, full access, and cleaning pouch found in the other cases. Gilty Couture Jewelry Cover cases are available now and priced between $55 and $175. For more information on Gilty Couture Accoutrements for iPod shuffle, nano, classic & touch, check out our First Look article.

Denon debuts two iPod-docking stereos

Denon Electronics has introduced two new S-Series Networked Audio Systems, the S-52 and S-32, both of which are equipped with built-in iPod Docks. The S-32 and S-52 also feature built-in Wi-Fi, Audyssey Bass-XT and Dynamic EQ audio processing, a multi-function scroll wheel on the top of the unit for easier iPod and menu navigation, the ability to stream music wirelessly from Internet Radio sources, network attached storage devices, and PC or Mac computers, the ability to decode MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV and FLAC formats, and the ability to connect to the Rhapsody digital music service. In addition, the S-52 also features a built-in HD Radio tuner, a slot-loading CD player, and a USB port, and is also XM Satellite Radio ready. Joe Stinziano, Denon’s Senior Vice President for Sales & Marketing, said, “Our new S-Series products embody Denon’s ‘Whole Home Audio’ strategy and are designed to provide ‘Boundless Entertainment’ opportunities for our customers. The S-Series Networked Audio Systems truly raise the bar for the entire compact category, offering users advanced networking, connectivity, performance and convenience features.” The Denon S-32 and S-52 iPod-docking Networked Audio Systems are available now and sell for $499 and $699, respectively.

Boomwave launches Nanopets for iPod nano 3G

Boomwave has announced the launch of its Nanopets cases for the iPod nano (with video). Nanopets are silicone cases with a canine-like design and feature access to all ports and controls, an included screen protector, and a neck strap. Nanopets are available now in four colors, and sell for $16.

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