Apple has announced that iTunes is now the second-largest music retailer in the US, trailing only Wal-Mart, according to the latest data from the NPD Group. The NPD Group’s MusicWatch survey captures consumer reported past week unit purchases and counts one CD as representing 12 tracks. Apple also announced that there are now over 50 million iTunes Store customers. “We’d like to thank the over 50 million music lovers who have helped the iTunes Store reach this incredible milestone,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We continue to add great new features like iTunes Movie Rentals to give our customers even more reason to love iTunes.” iTunes has sold more than four billion songs, and offers the world’s largest music catalog of over six million songs.
Following the earlier release of its ICF-C1iP clock radio for iPods, Sony today introduced its new ICF-C1iP MK2 clock radio, adding iPhone support to the prior design. The ICF-C1iP MK2 features a wireless remote that allows users full access to the iPod’s or iPhone’s menus, provided that the iPhone has been manually set to iPod mode, as well as offering radio tuning and volume functions. iPods or iPhones will be charged by the unit while docked, and an adjustable backstop mechanism provides a secure fit. Other features include line-in, a full-function alarm clock, automatic time setting and Daylight Savings adjustment, and adjustable brightness control. The Sony ICF-C1iP MK2 will be available in both black and while models in May and will sell for around $100, and should not be confused with the original iPod-only version currently in stores.
Apple’s new 2GB second-generation iPod shuffle is now available from Apple’s online store. Available in the same five colors — silver, blue, green, purple, and (Product) Red — as the 1GB models announced last September, the 2GB models are listed as shipping in 7-10 business days. The 2GB iPod shuffle sells for $69, while the 1GB shuffle, which ships within 24 hours, sells for $49.
Gameloft S.A. has released its Bubble Bash game for the iPod nano (with video), iPod classic, and fifth-generation iPod. Bubble Bash is a puzzle game set in an “island paradise” that features 100 evolving levels and a variety of power-ups, and appears to resemble Taito’s Puzzle Bobble. In the game, players toss multi-colored bubbles into the sky to pop three or more of the same color, in an attempt to break up a larger cluster of bubbles before they drop to the bottom, and time runs out. In addition, obstacles such as “angry monkeys, spiders, and parrots” try to stop the player, and 17 different bubbles allow for added strategy. Bubble Bash is available now from the iTunes Store and sells for $5.
Amazon.com is currently offering a free 1GB iPod shuffle in green, silver, purple, or blue to customers who purchase a 32GB iPod touch. The promotion, which is the first “buy one iPod, get one free” offer we’ve seen, does not appear to extend to other iPod touch models. To take advantage of the offer, customers need to add both the iPod shuffle of their choice and the 32GB iPod touch to their cart; Amazon says buyers will not be charged for the shuffle. The promotion is available for a limited time only.
Apple’s legal team has issued a Cease & Desist letter to the developers of the Hymn Project, software that allows users to strip the FairPlay DRM from files purchased from the iTunes Store. A post in the Hymn Project forums says that the letter demanded that all downloads be removed from the site. The post continues: “Until further notice, no links are to be posted anywhere on the site to programs that can strip DRM from any of Apple’s music or videos. Any user who does so will get the link removed and a warning from us. Any further infraction will get you banned permanently. The site will remain open for now and we won’t have a problem as long as we abide by the C&D.” In addition to the C&D sent out to the main developers, at least one individual user has also received a letter from Apple, following the user announcing publicly that he would offer a version of the DRM-stripping software to interested parties via email.
Apple today unveiled a new by-mail iPod and cell phone recycling program that enables consumers to safely dispose of their cell phones, regardless of the manufacturer or model. Phones and iPods can be recycled in any quantity, through the mail, a program that appears to be separate from Apple’s in-store iPod recycling initiative, which allows users to bring iPods (not cell phones) directly to a local Apple Store, and receive a 10% discount on any iPod purchased that day. To participate in the new mail-in program, users need to visit a dedicated page on Apple’s site that allows them to enter the quantity of items being recycled, fill out an address form, and choose whether to print out a pre-paid shipping label to affix to their own packaging, or have Apple send them a pre-paid mailer, both free of charge. No discount is offered for items mailed in for recycling.
Griffin Technology has announced that its Reflect and Courier cases are now available for the iPhone. The Reflect for iPhone is a mirror-finish case that combines a polycarbonate front shell with a matte black rubberized case back for added grip. The Reflect allows access to all ports and controls, and includes a cleaning cloth and a static-peel screen protector. It is available now and sells for $25.
Griffin’s updated Courier case has been redesigned with a slimmer look and abrasion-resistance, and now provides protection for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPod classic. Designed to attach onto a backpack or shoulder bag strap, Courier offers a hook-and-loop closure and carabiner clip, includes two detachable cases for iPhone or iPod touch and iPod classic or fifth-generation iPod, and features a hidden zippered pocket for money, keys, or ID. It is also available now, and sells for $35.
According to a new report, Apple’s release of the Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod touch will be delayed. Citing an unnamed source, BusinessWeek reports that the SDK, scheduled for release by the end of February, will be delayed anywhere “from one to three weeks.” The report also notes that the situation is “fluid,” and that “a lot of last-minute decisions are close to being made about what precisely will or will not be disclosed” this week. After months of anticipation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs in October announced the company’s intentions to release the SDK, which allows third-party developers to write native applications for the devices, in February.
There’s only one week left in the PDO 50 Cases Giveaway, in which fifty of PDO’s TopSkin silicone cases will be awarded to lucky iLounge readers. Each winner will receive one case in the color of their choice. Eligible prizes include TopSkin cases for iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, fifth-generation iPod, first-, second-, and third-generation iPod nano, and second-generation iPod shuffle. In addition, each case (except for the shuffle model) will include a screen protector, wrist strap, and removable swivel belt clip. To enter the contest, or to view the official rules, please visit the official giveaway page. The PDO 50 Cases Giveaway will run until February 29. Good luck!
The latest edition of iPodweek, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, is coming later today. iPodweek is a weekly summary of the best iPod news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and iPod accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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A new iPhone program, developed by Erica Sadun, offers LoJack-like tracking of the device via Twitter. The installation steps required for the program to function are somewhat advanced, and require a jailbroken iPhone and a Twitter account. Basically, the program uses the iPhone’s Maps program to triangulate its position, and then turns these coordinates into a Google Maps URL, which is then processed by tinyURL, and posted in a Twitter message. The program itself is now available as a free download.
A new collection of handmade wooden cases for the iPod touch, including two cases which are also compatible with the fifth-generation iPod, is available from Etsy seller mjdinsmore. The collection includes cases in a variety of woods, and with differing designs and inlays. In addition, some cases feature a latched opening, while other feature a sliding dovetail cover. The handmade wooden cases are available now and range in price from $31 to $80.
iPod owner Fstedie, responsible for the internal Bluetooth how-to for the fourth-generation iPod, has now completed an internal Bluetooth hack for the fifth-generation iPod. Described as “considerably more difficult” than the fourth-generation mod, the new hack leaves the 5G iPod with a stock external appearance, apart from a custom clear front panel. The hack offers “native” stereo Bluetooth support, and requires swapping the 5G’s hard drive for a CompactFlash card in order to free-up space for the transmitter. Fstedie promises that a how-to article will soon be posted to Instructables.com.
Apple today released iTunes 7.6.1, and announced a new $0.99 Movie of the Week promotion in an email sent out to iTunes Movie Rental customers. According to Apple, iTunes 7.6.1 “includes several bug fixes and improves compatibility with Apple TV software version 2.0.” iTunes 7.6.1 is available now through Apple’s Software Update utility. Separate from the release of iTunes 7.6.1, Apple also officially introduced its new $0.99 Movie of the Week promotion, in which a different movie will be available to rent each week, from Thursday through Monday, for $0.99. Like other rentals, users still have 30 days to begin watching the film. This week’s movie is The Hours; last week, iLounge editor Jesse David Hollington noted a $0.99 rental price on the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, suggesting that the promotion has been going on unannounced for at least a week.
Ambrosia Software has released iToner 1.0.6, the latest version of its custom iPhone ringtone utility for Mac OS X. New in iToner 1.0.6 is support for iPhone software 1.1.3, as well as support for .mp3 .mp4, .wav, and .aif files, French, German, and Italian localizations, intelligent audio processing for added ringtones, and various other fixes and enhancements. iToner requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later and sells for $15; a free trial download is also available.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has introduced its new VideoShell case for the iPod nano (with video). The VideoShell is a hard-shell case made from protective polycarbonate that features a kickstand in the rear of the case for hands-free video viewing. The stand elevates and holds the nano without limiting access to the dock connector and headphone jack, and the case also features a beveled opening for access to the Click Wheel, as well as complete open access to the Dock Connector, headphone jack, and hold switch. “With its extra-strong polycarbonate outer shell and unique kickstand, the DLO VideoShell for nano combines supreme functionality with solid protection from everyday nicks and scrapes,” said Marcia Germ, director of product development for DLO. “The case’s snap-on front ensures that the bottom is unobstructed and free for docking, so you’ll never have to take your nano out of its shell.” The DLO VideoShell for iPod nano (with video) is available now and sells for $20; for more information on the VideoShell check out our review.
Apple has lowered its 2008 NAND flash memory order forecast, a new report indicates. According to iSuppli, the company “has slashed its 2008 NAND order forecast significantly and has informed suppliers that its demand growth will slow in 2008 compared to 2007.” The reports states that this is expected to have a large impact on the NAND market overall, as Apple was the world’s third largest OEM buyer of NAND memory in 2007, with purchases of $1.2 billion, which represents 13.1 percent of the global market. Apple currently uses NAND flash memory in most of its portable consumer devices, including the iPod shuffle, iPod nano, iPod touch, and the iPhone. Prior to learning of Apple’s lowered forecast, iSuppli had predicted that the company’s NAND purchases would rise 32.2 percent this year, helping to encourage significant market growth.
Rogue Amoeba has released Airfoil 3.1, the latest version of its Airport Express streaming audio utility for Mac OS X. Airfoil allows users to send audio from any application to an Airport Express, and can also send audio to multiple Airport Express units simultaneously. New features in version 3.1 include support for the Apple TV’s new AirTunes feature, which allows Airfoil to stream audio to the set-top box, and support for Airfoil Speakers for Windows. The release also fixes a DVD playback issue with Mac OS X 10.5.2, and includes various other fixes and improvements. Airfoil 3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and sells for $25; users of Airfoil 2 can upgrade for $10. In addition to the Mac version, Rogue Amoeba also offers Airfoil 2.5 for Windows; it sells for $25 as well.
RhinoSkin has introduced its new HardCase for the iPod nano (with video). The HardCase is made with a clear, scratch-resistant and shatterproof polycarbonate front and a durable aluminum back. The case also features soft grip sides, access to the device’s screen, Click Wheel, hold switch, headphone jack, and Dock Connector, and an included lanyard. “No matter how big or small the device, RhinoSkin is committed to producing custom fit cases that people can depend on,” noted Kelley Wheeler, marketing manager for RhinoSkin. “People take their iPods nearly everywhere and we want them to be able to protect their investment and enjoy music and video anywhere they go.” The RhinoSkin HardCase for iPod nano (with video) is available now and sells for $25.