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Last chance to enter our Quad Speaker Giveaway

Today is the last day we’ll be accepting entries for our Quad Speaker Giveaway, so if you haven’t yet entered, now’s your chance. In the giveaway, Altec Lansing and iLounge are giving away four sets of Altec Lansing speakers (two Altec Lansing T612 Powered Audio Systems and two inMotion iM600 Portable Audio Systems) to four lucky readers. To enter, just fill out the simple form on the entry page. The contest runs until midnight Pacific Time tonight; for official rules and more information, see the official giveaway page. Good luck!

Former EA head starts iPhone gaming studio

Neil Young, former head of Electronic Arts’ Blueprint studio, has left the firm to form Ngmoco, a new iPhone-focused gaming studio. In an interview with Gamasutra, Young described his departure as amicable, saying, “[t]his is just a different type of opportunity, and honestly, if it wasn’t for the advent of the iPhone and the advent of the App Store and the SDK, I would probably still be at Electronic Arts focusing on making Blueprint as successful as it could possibly be.” Young goes on to explain that he was attracted by the iPhone’s usage patterns, in that more than half the time the average iPhone is in use it isn’t being used for telephony, calling the pattern “a fundamental shift.”

He also lauded the iPhone’s capabilities, saying, “The iPhone, from a performance standpoint, is pretty close to a PSP, but unlike the PSP, it’s got a touchscreen, accelerometers, a camera, it’s location-aware, it’s got all of your media on it, it’s awake with you, it’s always on, and it’s always connected to the network. So if you think about the types of games and entertainment experiences that you can build on a platform like that, it’s got to get pretty exciting pretty quickly.” Young also said that while his company will be involved in first-party development of games, it also plans to work with other developers, supplying funding, technological expertise, and marketing opportunities.

Sena unveils line of cases for iPhone 3G

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Sena Cases has introduced a number of cases for the upcoming iPhone 3G. The Elega Pouch is a slim case featuring a leather exterior, velvet lining, shock-absorbent padding, rigid inner layer for protection, a built-in belt clip, and holes for the iPhone’s speaker and microphone. It is available now in a variety of colors and sells for $40. The Ultra Slim Pouch is a slim sleeve-style case featuring a leather exterior, velvet lining, and openings for the iPhone’s speaker and microphone. It is available now and sells for $30.

imageThe LeatherSkin for iPhone 3G is a form-fitting case offering a leather exterior, velvet lining, a rigid layer for added protection, a removable ratcheting belt clip, and open access to the iPhone’s screen, sensors, ports, and controls. Available for pre-order in 14 colors, the LeatherSkin sells for $42 but it currently offered for $34. Sena’s WalletSkin for iPhone 3G adds a wallet-like rear flap to the rear of the LeatherSkin case, offering four credit card slots and a semi-transparent pocket for an ID card. It is available for pre-order for $42. Finally, the WalletBook Case for iPhone 3G adds a horizontally-opening, wallet-like front flap to a LeatherSkin-like case. It offers a single credit card slot and a semi-transparent ID card slot, as well as a snap closure. It is also available for pre-order at a cost of $42; the regular price on each case is $52. All three cases are expected to begin shipping on July 29.

Rhapsody launches DRM-free MP3 music store

RealNetworks has announced the launch of a new iPod-compatible, DRM-free MP3 version of its Rhapsody music store. With a catalog of more than five million songs from all four major music labels as well as a number of independents, the Rhapsody music store will offer most albums for $9.99 and tracks for $0.99, and will offer full-length previews of songs, compared to the 30-second samples found on competing services such as iTunes and Amazon MP3. As part of a promotion to raise awareness of the new music store, Rhapsody is giving away a free album to the first 100,000 people who sign up for the store. The Rhapsody music store can be accessed at rhapsody.com/mp3.

Internal AT&T, Rogers memos detail iPhone 3G unbricking

An internal AT&T memo obtained by AppleInsider, and a similar internal Rogers memo posted on a Canadian iPhone forum, describe a special version of iTunes that will be used for the in-store “unbricking” process required to let customers use the iPhone 3G. The AT&T memo shows an icon for “iTunes (Activation Only Mode),” noting that “[t]his icon is for the itunes utility that will be used for unbricking iPhone 3G devices during the activation process.” It goes on to note that the icon will be needed for the iPhone 3G launch on July 11, and that it is “not a full version of iTunes and is for use in activations ONLY.” The Rogers memo defines the unbricking process as “enabling the phone for services,” and reveals that the “Activation Only” version of iTunes is labeled as 7.6.3b4. Interestingly, a download link is provided in the leaked memo, but the page specifies that the maximum number of downloads has been reached.

Canadian users blast Rogers on iPhone 3G pricing [updated]

In the wake of last week’s announcement by Rogers Communications of Canadian iPhone service plans, a grass roots petition campaign has been launched to protest both data limits on the plans and their associated pricing. User James Hallen initially created an anti-Rogers website with a profane URL, later re-directing traffic to an updated site called ruinediphone.com, claiming that the Canadian iPhone carrier’s rates on its iPhone service plans are unfair, especially when compared with those of U.S. carrier AT&T. Hallen notes that he “was going to buy an iPhone for me, my girlfriend and my family,” but now, “sadly, I cannot afford the plan.” To date, the website’s petition has received 16,874 signatures, and will continue to collect supporters’ signatures until July 11, at which point the founders of the website will send a printed copy of all the signatures and accompanying messages to Rogers’ headquarters in order to “demonstrate our indignation toward them,” and in hopes of forcing the carrier to rethink its iPhone plans and rates.

Update: Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber points out Rogers’ early cancellation policy: “An Early Cancellation Fee (EECF) applies if, for any reason, your service is terminated prior to the end of the service agreement. The ECF is the greater of (ii) $1100 or (iii) $220 per month remaining in the service agreement, to a maximum of 400 (plus applicable taxes), and applies on each line in the plan that is terminated.”

Telstra to carry iPhone 3G in Australia, launch July 11

Telstra has announced that it will become the third carrier to offer the iPhone 3G in Australia, alongside Optus and Vodafone. According to the announcement, Telstra will begin offering the iPhone July 11 with a range of specifically appointed Next G iPhone 3G plans. Plans will start at $A30 (~$29) per month with an upfront cost of $A279 (~$269) for the 8GB model and $A399 (~$384) for the 16GB model. Customers will receive the 8GB iPhone 3G model at no cost with the $A80 (~$77) plan and either the 8GB or the 16GB model at no cost with plans starting at $A100 (~$96) per month. All plans include free Wi-Fi access at Telstra hotspots and require a 24-month contract. Telstra has previously threatened legal action over what it considered to be potentially misleading claims made by competing network Optus regarding its iPhone 3G service.

“Australians are very excited about iPhone 3G and we’re delighted to bring this product to them on Telstra’s high-speed Next G network,” said David Moffatt, Telstra’s consumer group managing director. “With iPhone 3G on the country’s largest and fastest 3G network, providing coverage to 99 percent of the population, more Australians will enjoy the iPhone 3G experience in even more places.”
 
“We’re thrilled to work with Telstra to bring iPhone 3G to Australia’s largest 3G network,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s COO. “iPhone 3G is an amazing product and we think Telstra’s over 9 million mobile customers will love it as much as we do.”

Hutchison reveals iPhone 3G plans, pricing for Hong Kong

Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong has revealed its pricing and service plans for the iPhone 3G in Hong Kong. Following precedents set in various other countries, Hutchison will offer tiered pricing on the iPhone 3G, based on which of the four iPhone Tariff Plans the customer chooses for his or her 24-month agreement. With the HK$498 (roughly $64) plan, which includes unlimited data and 2,200 basic minutes, the 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for HK$0, while the 16GB model will run HK$138 (~$18). The 8GB iPhone 3G will run HK$938 (~$120) with the HK$328 (~$42) tariff, which includes 500MB of data and 1,500 minutes, while the 16GB model will cost HK$1,738 (~$223). With the HK$268 (~$34) plan, which offers 500MB of data and 800 minutes, the 8GB model will cost HK$1,738, while the 16GB model will cost HK$2,538 (~$325). The 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for HK$2,938 (~$377), and the 16GB model for HK$3,738 (~$479) with the most affordable, HK$188 (~$24) tariff, which offers 500MB of data and 500 basic minutes. All four plans include unlimited on-network SMS messaging, as well as a limited number of credits good toward access to 3-provided multimedia and text-based content.

Hutchison will begin taking pre-registrations for the iPhone 3G on July 1, and will kick off iPhone 3G sales in Hong Kong with an “iPhone 3G First Day Sales Gala,” with attendees randomly selected from pre-registered customers. “iPhone 3G will herald a leap in mobile data consumption. Customers will love using the revolutionary iPhone 3G to explore the mobile Internet and exchange information while on the move. We foresee that the new generation customers will no longer go after call plans with excessive call minutes; rather they will look for price plans that offer them complete ease of mind when consuming mobile data. We are enabling customers to fully embrace the mobile Internet world by redefining mobile tariffs with four data-centric price plans that are ideal for mobile data consumption,” said Amy Lung, Chief Operating Officer, Mobile, Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong.

XtremeMac acquired by Imation

Imation Corp., which develops, manufactures, and sells various electronic iPod and iPhone accessories under the Memorex brand, today announced its acquisition of Xtreme Accessories (XtremeMac) for a purchase price of $9 million. XtremeMac was one of the earliest developers of iPod accessories, but appeared to have struggled in recent months with iPhone compatibility, substantial release delays, and uncertainty as to whether prior products would come back into stock.

Commenting on the transaction, Frank Russomanno, Imation’s President and Chief Executive Officer said: “With the acquisition of XtremeMac, Imation has added a brand recognized and respected by Apple enthusiasts and one that enhances our portfolio of products serving the growing market for consumer electronics related accessories.”

Gary Bart, founder and President of XtremeMac, will join Imation as Executive Director, guiding the company’s Apple accessory design efforts. It is unclear how the acquisition will impact currently delayed XtremeMac products, such as the Luna X2 clock radio, and whether the company’s name will continue to appear on future products.

Verizon CEO: Suggestion of iPhone success a ‘conspiracy’

In an interview with the Financial Times, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg has referred to the press’ suggestion that Apple’s iPhone 3G handset will see widespread success a “conspiracy.” Seidenberg described Apple as a “great company,” while pointing out its currently small share of global handset sales, and scoffing at the suggestion that the iPhone 3G’s lower subsidized pricing will help it gain mass-market acceptance. “There goes the conspiracy again,” he said. “You’re declaring them a winner before they’ve earned it on the field.” He also said that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has no monopoly on innovation, while describing how advanced mobile handsets could cause problems for other companies’ business models. “It’s very cool. And Steve Jobs eventually will get old . . . I like our chances.” Verizon recently announced a deal to buy Alltel for $28.1 billion, a move that will make it the largest US mobile company with more than 80 million customers. Seidenberg’s comments follow an incident in which a radio DJ staged a smashing of his iPhone, only to receive a call from Sprint CEO Dan Hesse moments later, who said “that was music to my ears.” The DJ’s destruction of the iPhone allegedly was “bought” by Sprint to promote a competing phone.

Apple files fraud, trademark suit against iPod Mechanic

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Nicholas Woodhams of iPod Mechanic, claiming he misused Apple’s “iPod” trademark through the name of the business and its accompanying website. Apple claims Woodhams did not have permission to use the trademark and was asked to cease using it in his business’ name in 2006. Woodhams reportedly agreed to stop using the name, and reached an agreement with Apple that would see him drop the iPod Mechanic name by January of 2007, and then park the domain name ipodmechanic.com by that March. Apple claims that neither of these conditions were met, however, the domain name now redirects to imechanic.com, although the iPod Mechanic name is still being used at the new domain.

In addition, the suit accuses Woodhams of knowingly defrauding Apple by convincing it to send him free components. According to the suit, Woodhams took advantage of Apple’s iPod shuffle Advance Replacement Program in 2007, by filling out an online form for customers that saw Apple ship him “replacement” iPod shuffle units, with a credit card kept on file in case the broken shuffle was never returned. Apple claims that Woodhams used a credit card he knew could be authorized for a potential charge, but would immediately decline any actual charges made by Apple should the broken shuffles fail to appear. Woodhams eventually sold the iPods at a heavy discount, according to the suit. The company claims Woodhams’ scheme cost them over $75,000. He is also accused of swapping out the back plates of out-of-warranty iPods for those of still-covered models in an effort to avoid paying repair and parts charges. As all three offenses are being viewed as deliberate, Apple is seeking triple damages in addition to forcing Woodhams to discontinue use of the iPod Mechanic name and website.

NetCom outlines iPhone 3G plans, pricing

Norwegian iPhone carrier NetCom has revealed its pricing and service plans for the iPhone 3G. Three different “iTalk” plans — Small, Medium, and Large — will be offered for the iPhone 3G, with the price of the handset varying based on the accompanying plan. The Small plan is priced at 399 NOK (~$79) and includes 100 voice minutes, 100 SMS messages, and 100 MB of data. When purchased with the Small plan, the 8GB iPhone 3G will cost 1390 NOK (~$275), while the 16 GB model will run 2290 NOK (~$452). The Medium plan provides 250 minutes, 250 texts, and 250MB of data for 699 NOK (~$138), and brings the cost of the 8GB iPhone 3G down to 690 NOK (~$136), while the 16 GB model runs 1590 NOK (~$314) with the plan. Finally, the Large plan runs 1099 NOK (~$217) a month and includes 1000 minutes, 1000 SMS, and 1000 MB of data. The 8GB iPhone costs only 1 NOK when purchased with the Large plan; users may upgrade to the 16GB model for 890 NOK (~$176). The iPhone 3G will launch in Norway on July 11.

iPodweek on its way; Vote on iLounge Poll

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The latest edition of iPodweek, our weekly newsletter covering all things iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and Apple TV, is coming later today. iPodweek is a weekly summary of the best 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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And don’t forget to vote in the latest iLounge Poll, “What should Apple do with the iPod shuffle?” It can be found under iLounge Poll on the left column of the iLounge.com home page.

TeliaSonera announces iPhone 3G pricing for Sweden

Telia has announced its pricing for the iPhone 3G and its associated voice and data plans in Sweden, and will offer the iPhone 3G for as little as one Swedish Krona (basically free) with a 24-month contract on its most expensive iPhone plan. The carrier will offer three voice and data plans for the iPhone 3G, named iMini, iMidi, and iMaxi, that will cost 299 SEK (around $50), 489 SEK (around $82), and 859 SEK (around $144) a month, respectively. The iMini plan offers 100 voice minutes, 100 SMS messages, and 100MB of data, while the iMidi plans offers 250 voice minutes, 250 SMS texts, and 250MB of data, and the iMaxi plan offers 1,000 voice minutes, 1,000 SMS messages, and 1,000 MB of data. All three plans will include unlimited free Wi-Fi at over 1,800 hotspots in Sweden.

Pricing for the iPhone 3G will be tiered based on the length of the contract and the plan selected. The 8GB model will sell for 1,695 SEK (roughly $283) with a 24-month contract for the iMini plan, 995 SEK (~$166) with the iMidi, and 1 SEK with the iMaxi plan. The 16GB model sells with the same agreements for 2,495 SEK (~$417), 1,795 SEK (~$300), and 795 SEK (~$133). 18-month contracts will also be offered for both models and with all three plans. The 8GB model will sell 2,495 SEK (~$417) with the iMini plan on an 18-month basis, 1,895 SEK (~$317) with iMidi plan, and 1,395 SEK (~$233) with iMaxi plan. Finally, the 16GB model will sell for 3,295 SEK (~$551) with the iMini plan on an 18-month contract, 2,695 SEK (~$450) with the iMidi plan, and 2,195 SEK (~$367) with the iMaxi plan. Telia will begin selling the iPhone 3G in Sweden at all 84 of its stores on July 11.

China Mobile: iPhone talks have ‘cleared hurdle’

China Mobile’s negotiations with Apple over the iPhone 3G have made it past their most difficult stage, according to a China Mobile spokeswoman. China Mobile has been in talks to carry the iPhone since last November, but found Apple’s prior insistence on a revenue sharing agreement to be a sticking point. “Apple is no longer insisting on a revenue-sharing policy, so the biggest hurdle for China Mobile to bring in the iPhone has been cleared, but there are practical issues still to be resolved,” said China Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei. Apple executives have prevously said they hoped to have the iPhone available in China sometime in 2008.

Rogers details iPhone voice and data plans

Rogers Communications has posted details of its voice and data packages for the iPhone 3G. Four different packages will be available for the iPhone, ranging in price from C$60 to C$115. The C$60 plan will provide 150 weekday minutes, 400MB of data, and 75 text messages, while C$75 brings 300 weekday minutes, 750MB of data, and 100 text messages. A C$100 plan will offer 600 weekday minutes, 1GB of data, and 200 text messages, while the most expensive (C$115) plan will provide 800 weekday minutes, 2GB of data, and 300 texts. All four plans will include unlimited night and weekend calling, unlimited access to Rogers Wireless and Fido Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as Visual Voicemail. In addition to these plans, Rogers will offer two iPhone Value Pack feature bundle add-ons. The C$15 Value Pack will include call display, the WhoCalled feature, 2,500 texts, caller Ring Trax, and 2,500 call forwarding minutes, while the C$20 pack bumps the texts to 10,000, and adds 6pm early evening calling. Rogers will begin selling the iPhone 3G on July 11, with the 8GB model costing C$199 and the 16GB model C$299, both with a three-year commitment.

iTunes remote control app revealed in iTunes 7.7

Alongside Beta 8 of the iPhone SDK, Apple posted a pre-release of iTunes 7.7 to registered, paid iPhone developers. In addition to featuring support for the MobileMe service and a new “Applications” tab in the iTunes sync screen to manage apps being loaded onto iPhones and iPod touches, the software’s Read Me file confirmed an earlier report that Apple has developed an iTunes remote control application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The Read Me file states, “Use iTunes 7.7 to sync music, video, and more with iPhone 3G, and download applications from the iTunes Store exclusively designed for iPhone and iPod touch with software version 2.0 or later. Also use the new Remote application for iPhone or iPod touch to control iTunes playback from anywhere in your home—a free download from the App Store.” Further details about the Remote application have yet to be revealed.

Apple opens App Store to developers

According to a new report, Apple has opened the App Store to allow registered developers that have been accepted into the paid iPhone developer program to ready their apps for distribution. TUAW reports that developers are using iTunes Connect to track the financial performance of their applications, and that Apple is said to withhold any payments until the developer has earned at least $250 for themselves through sales of their app. It remains unclear how Apple will schedule payments once the $250 threshold has been reached. In addition, and in keeping with an earlier report, developers can choose their own pricing for applications, and all prices will end in 99 cents, as is common with iTunes purchases. More information about the application submission process is available from the “Program Portal” on Apple’s secure developer website.

Apple releases eighth update to iPhone SDK

Apple has released the eighth beta version of its iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK). The new beta release is labeled build 9M2199a, beta 8, and weighs in at 1.25 GB. It is available now as a free download for registered developers from the iPhone Dev Center. Release notes have not yet been posted.

Mix: APPL Q3, Fetch Art, Fabrix, Speck

  • June 26, 2008

Apple has announced a conference call to discuss its third fiscal quarter financial results will be held on Monday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. A link to the conference call webcast will be provided at a later date.

Fetch Art, an iTunes album art utility for Mac, has been updated to version 2.0. New features in v2.0 include fixes for compatibility with Amazon’s ECS 4.0 web service, improvements in search accuracy, an option to skip tracks that already have art, increased performance, support for searched on Amazon Japan, France, and Canada, and more. Fetch Art is free to download, but interested users can make donations through the developer’s website.

Fabrix cases has announced new designs for their sleeve cases, as well as iPhone 3G compatibility for its iPhone sleeves. According to the company, all previously purchased iPhone sleeves will be completely compatible with the iPhone 3G, and future sleeves will continue to fit either model. In addition, it announced four new fabric options, including chalkboard, grey suit, gingham (available in red, pink, green, or blue), and red damask. Fabrix Sleeves for iPhone and iPhone 3G are available now and sell for $22.

Speck Products is currently running a special promotion which offers a 50% discount off the total order. To take advantage of the offer, follow this link to get the coupon code. The promotion runs through Monday, June 30.

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