Homade has introduced its iStereo speaker for iPod (pictured), which is modeled after LEGO building blocks. The iStereo features an integrated iPod dock, two speakers in the unit’s top, and volume controls consistent with the block-inspired design. It is powered by three AA batteries, and is available now for $40. [via ShinyShiny]
Coolgorilla has launched its Talking iPod Phrase Books podcasts, which offer translation of English text into various languages such as French, German, and Italian. Each language translation pack offers 750-800 useful phrases, which can be accessed from any iPod. The language packs are available through iTunes; for iPhone and iPod touch users, the company offers an iPhone Translator web application as well.
JThink has released Jaikoz 2.3.0, a multi-platform metadata editing application for mp4, m4a, m4p, mp3, Flac and OggVorbis files. Jaikoz features the ability to automatically find and correct metatags, to automatically retrieve and add song lyrics, and the ability to update the iTunes database with changes made in Jaikoz. The application sells for £15, and runs on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
iViewr has announced its iPhone and iPod touch-based guide to next week’s CeBIT show in Hanover, Germany. The guide offers useful information for attendees, including keynote info, travel directions, disabled access details, and more. To access the guide, visit iviewr.com from an iPhone or iPod touch and tap on “Our Choice.”
Following yesterday’s announcement that the iPhone will launch on O2 in Ireland on March 14, O2 Ireland CEO Danuta Gray has spoken about the value of the device, given the €1209 cost including the minimum 18-month tariff plan. “You can’t compare it with other products,” said Gray in an interview with the Independent. “Comparing it with a standard handset is just not like-for-like. I have music on it, videos on it, DVDs, photo albums, camera. To me it’s just an amazing device and I think the type of price here compared with this type of functionality is where the value should be judged.” Despite the price, and the mixed response the device has seen in other European countries, O2 is confident that it will see a strong response on launch day. “I’d say your Apple freaks will be queuing out the door when we launch,” Gray said. “I think people are familiar with what the product is but I think there’s an excitement that they can now get it in Ireland.”
Get ready. Later this evening, iLounge will launch an all-new site design, which will offer improved navigation, functionality, and features, in addition to a slightly new look. Due to the nature of the transition from the old site to the new one, there may be a short period tonight where you will be unable to access the site. Please be patient; It will be worth the wait.
For a preview of the new site design, check out page 10 of our 2008 iPod + iPhone Buyers Guide.
According to several sources familiar with Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch software development kit (SDK) plans, the company will use a March 6 event in Cupertino, California to formally announce a number of potentially controversial limitations on application development and publishing. Our sources spoke on the condition that their comments were not for attribution, independently confirming the following details, and offering differing opinions of their importance. We include both the details and opinions below for your reference.
iTunes Store as hub. Least controversially, Apple plans to require that all mobile applications be distributed through its iTunes Store, making the Store a necessary hub for those interested in browsing or purchasing iPhone and iPod touch software. While one source suggested that a company’s well-trafficked website or product packaging would be considerably more practical places to distribute certain types of software, another source lauded the Store as a logical place for Apple users to locate and purchase applications.
Apple as application picker. The most controversial aspect of Apple’s SDK plan is its intention to formally approve or deny all SDK-based software releases for its devices. Our sources confirm that Apple will act as a gatekeeper for applications, deciding which are and are not worthy of release, and publishing only approved applications to the iTunes Store; a process that will less resemble the iTunes Store’s massive directory of podcasts than its sale of a limited variety of iPod Games. While one source saw this as a positive for major developers, suggesting that Apple will be choked by application submissions and forced to give priority to releases from larger companies, another source disagreed, stating that Apple’s current approval processes for third-party products have resulted in lengthy, needless delays. It is unclear whether Apple will need to approve subsequent bug fixes and feature additions to accepted applications, another issue that could clog the approval system and postpone important improvements.
No accessory connectivity. Under current plans, SDK developers will be prevented from interfacing directly with Dock Connector-based accessories connected to the iPhone or iPod touch—a decision that we are told could cripple development of new accessories such as physical keyboards, traditional add-ons, and more ambitious, creative accessories such as Delphi’s iPhone car control prototype. One source described this limit as a guarantee that SDK-developed applications would be nearly as limited as current web-based ones, while consuming more of the device’s storage capacity. Yet integrated iPhone or iPod touch features such as the phone, Wi-Fi, and camera will be developer-accessible, certainly permitting development of programs that weren’t possible before. It is presently unclear whether Bluetooth 2.0, which is included in the iPhone but crippled to permit only monaural phone call streaming, will be opened to permit stereo audio streaming and data functionality as well.
Sources told iLounge that the collective impact of Apple’s decisions will be to control and stifle third-party development at a critical juncture in iPhone and iPod history, limiting what could be an open, thriving Mac-like collection of applications and accessories to a smaller, more stagnant iPod-like controlled environment. Consequently, a source suggests, developers who “jailbrake” iPhones and iPods to develop applications will be at an advantage relative to those who use Apple’s official tools. Even after extensive discussions on the subject, however, iLounge remains open-minded to the idea that Apple’s plans will result in net positives for the iPod and iPhone community, and optimistic that the company will loosen its planned restrictions to accommodate the Apple community’s demonstrated, impressive creativity.
According to our sources, Apple will use the March 6 event to tout the benefits of the SDK to selected media, analysts, and developers, releasing an incomplete, “beta” version of the kit that was originally promised for February. The actual kit will now ship in June, coinciding with Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference event in San Francisco. Additional announcements regarding iPhone compatibility with popular enterprise software, including Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, will also take place, in an effort to convince corporate users to adopt the iPhone despite reservations over its on-screen keyboard and e-mail functionality.
The iPhone is second in planned corporate smartphone buying, and first in corporate smartphone satisfaction, according to the latest research from ChangeWave. A February 11-15 corporate survey of people involved with IT spending decisions showed that despite its 5% share of the corporate market, the iPhone ranked first in corporate smartphone satisfaction, with 59% of Apple’s business customers saying their company was very satisfied with the iPhone. Blackberry maker Research In Motion came in second with 49%, a drop of 8% from the previous survey. RIM was the dominant leader in planned corporate smartphone purchases, however, with 77% of companies planning to purchase a smartphone in the next quarter saying it would come from RIM. Apple’s iPhone came in second in this category, with 11%, down 3% from its previous high. In its invitation to next week’s iPhone software roadmap event, Apple said it would show some “exciting new enterprise features” for the handset, which may boost its attraction in the corporate market.
Reporting its fourth quarter financial results, O2 has said that the iPhone is the fastest selling device it’s ever had in the UK. “In the UK, we outperformed the market again, posting like for like revenue growth of 9.5% for the year, above the top end of our guidance range,” said Matthew Key, CEO of Telefonica Europe. “The UK added 483,000 net customers in the quarter including 276,000 on contract, the highest number ever, helped by sales of the iPhone, the fastest selling device that we have ever had in the UK.” The iPhone launched in the UK on November 9, 2007; the company this morning revealed that it will begin offering the iPhone in Ireland on March 14.
Apple was amongst the world’s top ten cell phone manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to new research from Gartner. For the first time, worldwide sales of mobile phones surpassed 1 billion units, with growth of 16 percent driving sales of 1.15 billion units in 2007, compared to 990.9 million in 2006. The fourth quarter of 2007 saw three new entrants to the top ten: Research In Motion, ZTE, and Apple. Apple placed tenth in the rankings, grabbing 0.6 percent of the market despite the iPhone being available in only four markets. “On one hand, we have aggressive pricing and a focus on emerging markets (ZTE), and on the other, RIM with targeted functions and Apple with brand and design,” said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner. RIM ended up in sixth, with 1.2 percent share, while Nokia, number one with 40.4 percent share, continued to dominate globally. “Phone manufacturers need to continuously adapt their portfolios to respond to operators’ demands for open platforms, lower pricing and more personalization,” added Milanesi. “They should also try to meet consumers’ desires for fashionable, easy-to-use phones.”
In a resent research note, UBS analysts told clients that German chipmaker Infineon Technologies AG will likely provide new chips for Apple’s upcoming 3G iPhone. The group said that this isn’t yet the consensus view, and it also believes 3G-enabled iPhones will be released by mid-year. It added that the current EDGE iPhone platform is being ramped down earlier than expected to “clean” inventories. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has previously said that a 3G-capable iPhone model will be released this year.
O2 has confirmed that the company will carry the iPhone in Ireland, with a launch date set for March 14. The launch was confirmed in an account of likely performance indicators for O2’s fourth financial quarter; a website touting the device’s launch is now online. As in the UK, the iPhone will be available through O2 retail stores and through Carphone Warehouse. Pricing is similar to other European countries, as the 8GB model will sell for €399, while the 16GB model will run €499. Tariffs will begin at €45 a month. This news follows a report from yesterday, which found support for O2 Ireland in the latest iPhone software. [via Macworld UK]
Update: According to O2’s web site, none of the available tariffs include unlimited data, instead capping usage at a 1GB a month, and Visual Voicemail “is not currently supported.”
During an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Investment Symposium, Apple COO Tim Cook spoke about the iPod and iPhone, and calmed investors by stating that the company is on track for its goal of ten million units sold by the end of the year. “We are right on track for where we want to be,” Cook said. “The four million units we’ve sold over the first 200 days gives us confidence that we can achieve ten million units in 2008.” Describing the iPhone as more of a platform than a device, Cook said that post-SDK, developers would “only be limited by [their] imagination.” Cook also defended Apple’s decision to go with an exclusive carrier, revenue-sharing model for the initial iPhone rollouts, but added that the company is “not married to any business model.”
Regarding iPods, the Apple executive said that weaker-than-expected fourth quarter iPod unit sales numbers might be attributable to the iPod shuffle, which fell 17 percent year-over-year in unit sales globally, and even more than that in the US. Cook said that Apple wasn’t seeing signs of iPod market saturation, adding that 40 percent of iPods sold last quarter were purchased by first-time iPod owners. Finally, Cook admitted that although the iPod touch might have cannibalized some iPhone sales, he’d rather Apple cannibalize Apple than an outsider, adding that the launch was “very successful.” An audio webcast of the event is available from apple.com/investor.
Apple debuted a new iPod touch ad this evening during “American Idol” on Fox. The ad shows ten iPod touches displaying various features, laid out on a wooden table similar to those found in Apple’s retail stores. During the commercial, some of the units are shown close-up to highlight the features further; towards the end of the ad, hands reach out and grab the touches off the table as the words “Everybody Touch” are displayed. Features highlighted include the Safari browser, the Weather application, email, Notes, the photo browser, Cover Flow, Maps, and video playback. Brendan Benson’s song “What I’m Looking For” is featured in the spot and the track information is also briefly shown on screen. You can now view the ad on Apple’s web site.
Apple has sent out notices to select media outlets inviting them to a special “iPhone Software Roadmap” event to be held on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, CA on March 6. The invitation reads: “Please join us to learn about the iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK and some exciting new enterprise features.” The graphic in the email features a map, with signs labeled “Enterprise,” “SDK” and “Software Update.” It is unclear whether the SDK will be released at the event, and what enterprise announcements the company might have planned, although an Apple job posting from late last year did suggest that the company was working on support for Microsoft Exchange email on the iPhone.
Britannica has launched its Britannica Mobile iPhone Edition online encyclopedia for the iPhone. The web application features “tens of thousands of articles” covering all subjects, accessible through an iPhone- and iPod touch-friendly interface. It also offers full-text searching, thousands of high-resolution thumbnails that expand to full-size images, and page layouts optimized for cell phone bandwidth. “People today want information wherever they go,” said Dan Smith, senior vice president at Encyclopaedia Britannica. “They want to satisfy their curiosity the moment it’s aroused, whether they’re on a train, in a restaurant talking to friends, or watching a sunset on the beach. Now we can get answers to them in ways that weren’t possible before.” Britannica Mobile iPhone Edition can be accessed by visiting i.eb.com from an iPhone or iPod touch.
Abilene Christian University has announced plans to supply all incoming freshman with an iPhone or iPod touch as part of an initiative to enhance learning through the use of technology. According to ACU Chief Information Officer Kevin Roberts, freshmen will use the devices to receive homework alerts, answer in-class surveys and quizzes, get directions to their professors’ offices, and check their meal and account balances – among more than 15 other useful web applications already developed. The plan has gained attention from Apple and Ivy League universities — Roberts recently gave a presentation at Apple headquarters to company executives and selected leaders from universities including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Duke, Stanford, Oxford, Princeton, and UCLA outlining ACU’s “creative vision for converged media devices.”
“We are not merely providing cutting-edge technology tools to our incoming students,” said Roberts. “We are also providing the web applications that ensure these tools will become critical to the students’ learning experience. Because 93 percent of ACU students bring their own computers with them to college, we are choosing to take them to the next level by providing converged mobile devices.” Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, ACU provost, said, “This is exciting to me, not only because we’re giving students new tools, but because we are transforming the learning environment. The extensive research that’s been done on campus in the past 10 months has prepared us to launch with freshmen this fall, and research will be ongoing as we expand the program in the future.”
Our most recent iLounge poll, “Which current model iPod do you personally use the most?,” has just ended. With over 4,200 votes cast, the results were surprising: while a plurality of responding readers (26%) said that they use a non-current iPod, mini, nano or shuffle the most, the 2007 iPod classic came in second with 23% of the vote, followed by the iPod touch (21%), iPhone (16%), and video iPod nano (10%). Interestingly, only 2% of voters picked the current iPod shuffle—the same number who said they read the site but didn’t use an iPod at all. From what we gather, the higher-capacity the Apple device, the more popular it is with our readers.
Because of the low iPod shuffle numbers, we wanted to hear your thoughts on Apple’s February announcement of new 1GB iPod shuffle pricing and a new 2GB model. Our new poll, “How will Apple’s new $49/$69 iPod shuffles affect you?,” asks whether the new pricing and 2GB version will lead you to buy a new shuffle for yourself, or as a gift, or both, or whether the shuffles don’t matter to you for one reason or another. Cast your vote from the main iLounge.com homepage by looking for the orange iLounge poll on the left hand column!
New carrier bundles found inside iPhone software 1.1.4 suggest that O2 will be the device’s carrier in Ireland, and provide confrmation of support for T-Mobile Austria. Macity, which previously found evidence of Italian carrier TIM in iPhone software 1.1.3, reports that new bundles [Translated Link], named “O2_ie.bundle” and “TMobile_at.bundle” are present in the Carrier Bundles folder of the new software. Earlier this month, T-Mobile chief executive Hamid Akhavan said that the company would begin offering the iPhone in Austria in the first half of 2008, making the discovery of its bundle more of a confirmation than a revelation; we’ve previously heard little about a potential carrier for the device in Ireland. Macity suggests that the appearance of these bundles, coupled with Akhavan’s statement that the iPhone would arrive in Austria in the first half of this year, might mean a similar roll-out schedule for the device in Italy and Ireland.
Designed to appeal to iPod, PDA, and cell phone owners without access to portable chargers, Smarte Carte’s Charge Cartes are now appearing in airports across the United States. Equipped with three white iPod Dock Connector cables and nine additional blue cables that have popular cell phone and PDA plugs at their ends, a Charge Carte offers 30 minutes of rapid recharging time for $3, enabling you to connect your iPod and charge up to half of its battery capacity. An LED countdown timer lets you know how many minutes of power remain.
The stations can be placed by airport operators at any location, including in departure areas or baggage claims, enabling users to charge up while they’re waiting to leave. Like the company’s baggage cart rental services, the Charge Cartes accept credit cards; unlike them, the Cartes do not accept cash.
Following a report earlier today that iTunes has become the second-largest music retailer in the US, a NPD executive has said that the store will likely knock Wal-Mart from the top spot later this year. “Digital sales were up close to 50 percent and CD sales were down 20 percent last year,” said Russ Crupnik, president of music for the NPD Group. “Even at half that growth rate in digital sales, Apple will in all likelihood catch Wal-Mart this year.” Crupnik went on to say that Apple has done a better of job of retailing than its competitors, especially in its efforts to attract teenagers. Since many teens lack credit cards, iTunes Gift Cards, which can be purchased at retail locations, allow them to purchase music online when their lack of a credit card might prevent them from buying from a competing store. “That’s the question that the music industry has to answer soon,” Crupnick said. “How do we get young people to start paying for music again? They’ve got to make it easier for teens to buy online. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has done a wonderful job of this. Teens have a way to do commerce with iTunes.”
Apple has released software version 1.1.4 for the iPhone and iPod touch. According to Apple, the update “includes bug fixes and supersedes all previous versions.” It is currently unclear whether any new features have been added with the update; however, with Apple scheduled to release the iPhone and iPod touch software development kit (SDK) this week, it is possible that this update could be a precursor to that release. iPhone and iPod touch software version 1.1.4 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.
Keith Bachman, analyst with BMO Capital Markets, has cut his price target for Apple’s stock, saying that iPods and iPhones were no longer “growth drivers” for the company. “Apple’s three growth drivers [iPods, iPhones and Macs] has now turned to one,” Bachman said in an analyst note. Bachman went on to say that the Mac will begin to take on more importance because the iPhone is not likely to experience growth on the scale of what the company has projected for this year. He also pointed out that the iPod is starting to show signs of market saturation, leading to slower growth rates for the device. Despite the somewhat gloomy predictions, Bachman maintained his outperform rating on Apple’s stock, noting that “more carriers and lower handset [prices]” could improve the iPhone’s prospects. Bachman reduced his forecast for iPhone sales in fiscal 2008 from 9.3 million to 7.7 million units, and also reduced his iPod sales forecast for the same period, from 54.6 million to 51.1 million units.