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EA releases Scrabble, updates Mini Golf iPod game

Alongside the re-release of Mini Golf, Electronic Arts today released Scrabble as a downloadable game for the third-generation iPod nano, iPod classic, and fifth-generation iPod. Mini Golf was originally released in 2006 as one of the first iPod games, and lets players putt their way through three themed courses, complete with various obstacles and secret shortcuts. Based on the popular crossword game, Scrabble lets players vie for high score by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a 15-by-15 game board. Both games are currently available from the iTunes Store and sell for $4.99 each.

Note: At the time of publication, the Mini Golf game notes have yet to be updated to show compatibility with the third-generation iPod and iPod classic, although the game does appear in the section of the iPod games page set aside for updated titles.

T-Mobile to offer iPhone in Netherlands, wider Euro rollout ahead?

The iPhone may be headed to the Netherlands later this month on T-Mobile, according to a new report. Citing a source within the company, All About Phones (Translated Link) says that the iPhone will be hitting the Dutch market soon, possibly as early as late March, and will be offered by T-Mobile. This report follows recent developments that suggest Apple may be planning to roll out the iPhone in more European countries. Carrier-specific files found in the latest version of the iPhone’s software suggested that the device would soon be coming to T-Mobile in Austria, Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy, and O2 in Ireland. Previous reports have also suggested that Telefonica SA will offer the phone in Spain. T-Mobile Austria has confirmed that it begin selling the iPhone in the first half of 2008, while O2 Ireland last week announced that it will be launching the device on March 14. In addition, Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty recently noted that Apple spent $550,000 on Steve Jobs’ airplane expenses in the fourth quarter, around three times the average over the prior six quarters. Huberty said that Jobs is “integral to negotiations with international carriers and supply chain partners,” meaning that much of his travel may have been to close deals with potential iPhone carriers.

Apple expands Digital Release cards with iTunes Essentials compilations

Following its mid-2007 rollout of Digital Release cards, which first appeared in Starbucks to offer digital downloads of albums from individual artists, Apple has expanded the Digital Release program to include themed, 15- and 30-song iTunes compilations, and started to sell the cards in Best Buy locations. Branded under the iTunes Essentials name, the cards are available for collections such as “Classic Rock Hits,” “R&B Hits,” “Love Song Classics,” “Party Hits,” “70’s Super Hits,” and “80’s Super Hits,” with prices from $10 to $20. The $10 cards include 15 songs each, while $20 cards provide 30 tracks each, bringing the per-track price to only 67 cents per song. Tracks selected by Apple for these cards come from major artists, and the cards feature eye-catching metallic material rather than just plain plastic or cardboard.

China Mobile not in talks over iPhone, still interested

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator, has indicated that although it has yet to officially enter into talks with Apple over becoming the iPhone’s carrier in China, it is still interested in the handset. “We have not yet officially begun talks with Apple over the iPhone problem,” said China Mobile Chief Executive Wang Jianzhou. “As long as our customers want this kind of product, we will keep all options open.” Previously rumored to be in talks with Apple over the iPhone, the company most recently said that 400,000 unlocked iPhones were operating on its cellular network by the end of 2007. Jianzhou has previously stated that he dislikes the revenue-sharing business model that Apple has used with other iPhone carriers, stating, “we still think we can maintain the operator-centric model because we have the customers, the end users.” China Mobile currently has 350 million wireless subscribers.

iPhone now fourth-largest browsing platform

The iPhone has become the world’s fourth-largest online browsing platform, according to the latest operating system numbers from Net Applications. For February 2008, the various versions of Windows held nearly 92% market share, followed by the Mac with ~7.5%, Linux with 0.65%, and iPhone, with 0.14% — up 0.01% from January. When broken down further, the iPhone still remains in the top ten, following six different versions of Windows, both Power-PC and Intel-based Macs, and Linux, but ahead of competitors such as Windows Mobile, Symbian Series 60, and Hiptop, better known as the T-Mobile Sidekick. Interestingly, the iPod touch retained its 0.04% share of the market, but now lies just 0.02% behind Windows Mobile, and when combined with the iPhone, the “mobile OS X” platform holds 0.18% share of the market. Net Applications’ data comes from the browsers of “site visitors to its on-demand network of live stats customers,” and is compiled from “approximately 160 million visitors per month.”

Welcome to the new iLounge!

Over the past six and a half years, Apple’s digital media device family has grown from one iPod and iTunes to include iPhone, Apple TV, and much more: today, there are four different current-generation iPods in 24 different versions to choose from, new updates to iTunes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and game-changing software updates for both the iPhone and Apple TV.

While iLounge has grown dramatically to cover all of these products, our main page has been bursting at the seams trying to handle it all. Comprehensive looks at new product releases, reports on different countries and companies, reader-submitted photographs, news, and tutorials have all had to fight for very limited real estate, sometimes disappearing from our main page within only a day of initial posting. If you’ve been looking for something that appeared on iLounge only a day or two ago, chances are good that you had to search for it.

Our new design remedies that. Sit back, or click once on the expanded main page, and you’ll find that all of our biggest and latest stories are right in front of you. Expanded feature, review, and news pages have more room for larger photographs, and more readable text. A bigger, easier navigation bar provides faster access to the site’s many sections. Access to our downloadable publications, created to help you get quick answers to your iPod/iPhone use and accessory buying questions, is always available at the bottom of the screen. And soon, you’ll find an improved translation feature that better converts our content into different languages, as well as major reworkings of the many section satellite pages linked from the main page.

We’re still tweaking a number of the site’s features, including fixing some broken links, and adding back things that have disappeared from the main page during the transition. Please report any serious bugs you discover to [email protected], as we work to bring the new iLounge up to full speed. Enjoy!

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