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Global iPhone 3G promotions begin

Leading up to the first-generation iPhone release last June, Apple launched an aggressive advertising campaign that was hard for anyone to miss. Attractive, feature-specific TV ads for the handset seeemed to run during every popular program, and Apple found ways to get the device into periodicals of all sorts. It may not have sold a million units in its first month on the market, but the iPhone name was everywhere.

This year, Apple and its carrier partners face a much bigger challenge with the iPhone 3G: drumming up hype and spreading product awareness across not one but 22 countries, all at the same time. While iLounge readers in the United States are fairly familiar with the product already, a number of advertisements have popped up all over the globe in preparation for the initial iPhone 3G launch on July 11. We’ve included some photos of these ads below. (Mexico City photo courtesy of flickr user alenm8816.)

Windows version of Missing Sync for iPhone now available

Mark/Space has announced that a Windows version of its data transfer software, The Missing Sync for iPhone, is now available. The Missing Sync for iPhone supports migration from most BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian OS, and Palm OS devices, providing a step-by-step Migration Assistant to aid in the transferring of contacts and calendars, including those stored using Outlook 2003 or 2007. The program also collects and archives all iPhone SMS messages, keeps a log of all incoming, outgoing and missed calls from the phone, and can transfer notes from the iPhone, which can then be read using the included Mark/Space Notebook. The Missing Sync for iPhone is available as an electronic download from the Mark/Space online store for $40, and requires a PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

iPhone 2.0 Japanese keyboard spotted on video

Details of the iPhone’s Japanese keyboard, due to appear in iPhone Software v2.0, have been posted online. According to a TokyoMango posting accompanying the video, users will be able to choose between a QWERTY-style keyboard and a Japanese cell phone-style keyboard, and may then pick from a multi-tap style kana keyboard or a sliding keyboard. According to the post, “Japanese kana letters are organized in groups of five according to a beginning letter and corresponding vowels (a i u e o), so you can either put in the first letter and then hit the same key between 1-5 times to get the right sound (multi-tap), or you can put the first letter in and then tap and slide through to see all five sounds and pick the right one.” Continue reading to view a video claiming to show off the new keyboard in action. [via TUAW]

PDO rolls out TopSkin, Flipp cases for iPhone 3G

PDO has announced its new TopSkin and Flipp cases for the upcoming iPhone 3G. The TopSkin is a form-fitting silicone case featuring a play-through design that covers the power, volume, and home buttons in a slim layer of silicone, while cut-outs allow for access to the iPhone’s screen, camera, ring/vibrate switch, speakers, and microphone. The device’s Dock Connector and headphone jack are covered by flaps that can be opened for access and protect the ports when not in use. In addition, the TopSkin features a micro texture grip on all four sides, and includes a slim-profile belt clip and a full frontal screen protector. PDO’s TopSkin for iPhone 3G will sell for $20 and will be available in black, blue, pink, and white in July.

imageThe PDO Flipp for iPhone 3G is a premium black leather flip-style case featuring a flip-up front cover with magnetic close, and cut-out access to all ports and controls. It also features an integrated belt clip and includes a full frontal screen protector. The PDO Flipp Leather Case for iPhone 3G will sell for $30 and is expected to ship in July. Lastly, PDO announced its Screen Protector sets for iPhone 3G. The screen protectors are precision cut to cover the entire front face of the iPhone 3G except for the home button and speaker. PDO’s Screen Protectors for iPhone 3G will come in packs of two and will be available in early July for $10.

ZAGG intros invisibleSHIELD for iPhone 3G

ZAGG has introduced its invisibleSHIELD for iPhone 3G. The invisibleSHIELD for iPhone 3G will be available as a front shield, which covers the entire glass surface of the iPhone, as a back shield, which is specially-cut to protect the device’s glossy, scratch-susceptible plastic back and sides, as well as a full body shield, which includes both a front and back protector. All invisibleSHIELDs are made from aviation-inspired, scratch-resistant clear urethane film, and carry a lifetime guarantee. ZAGG’s invisibleSHIELD for iPhone 3G sells for $25 for the full-body coverage set, $19 for the back shield, and $15 for a front shield only. The company expects to begin shipping the invisibleSHIELD for iPhone 3G tomorrow, June 27.

Griffin unveils FlexGrip for iPhone 3G

Griffin Technology has unveiled its FlexGrip case for the iPhone 3G. The FlexGrip is a form-fitting silicone case featuring textured surfaces on its side and back for added grip. It offers full access to the iPhone’s screen, sensors, ports, and controls, and includes a screen protector. The Griffin FlexGrip for iPhone 3G will come in a variety of colors, and will sell for $15. According to the company, it will be available “in plenty of time for the official availability of iPhone 3G.”

Orbino debuts cases for iPhone 3G

Luxury leather goods manufacturer Orbino has introduced its first cases for the iPhone 3G. The Pantera is a flip-style case that features a leather or exotic skin exterior, hand stitched with waxed thread for a tailored fit and better grip. It also offers a brushed palladium home button cover, a slim adherent protective screen cover, a unique “talk-through” design that allows the phone to be used even when the front flap is closed, and an included spring-loaded removable metal belt clip. It will sell for $149 and up. The Strada Tre for iPhone 3G is an open-faced, hand stitched leather case, featuring a built-in, spring-loaded removable metal belt clip, and offering full access to all ports and controls. Pricing starts at $99. Finally, the Tasca for iPhone 3G is a pocket-style case, offered with an exterior of either premium leather or exotic skin. Hand stitched with waxed thread for a tailored fit and extra grip, the Tasca offers complete coverage for the iPhone 3G, with a top-opening flap that closes using a simple leather strap. It will sell for $119 and up. All three Orbino leather cases for iPhone 3G will begin shipping in mid-July.

Orange to sell iPhone 3G in France from €149

France Telecom’s Orange unit will sell the upcoming iPhone 3G in France from €149, beginning July 17, the company announced today. As the iPhone’s exclusive carrier in France, Orange said the 8GB iPhone 3G will be sold at €149 with Orange for iPhone, Origami Star (from 3 hours), First, and Jet plans, while the 16GB model will be sold for €199, with the same plans. With other plans (excluding time-cutoff and pay-as-you-go), the 8GB model will run €199 and the 16GB for €249, and the phones will also be offered at those prices through the Orange loyalty upgrade program. In addition, current iPhone owners who purchased their phone before June 12 and are using it with a qualifying Orange plan will be able to buy the 8GB iPhone 3G for €99 through a €100 rebate valid until October 31, as part of the “Change your mobile” program, subject to a 24-month contract. Orange also revealed (PDF link) that there is a fair usage limit on iPhone 3G data of 500MB per month, with current average iPhone data usage at 100MB per month, and noted that over 66% of the French population is covered by its 3G service.

Starbucks confirms CD cutbacks, iTunes partnership

Following a report claiming that Starbucks will cut back in-store CD sales and end sales of iTunes Gift Cards and other iTunes-based promotions, Starbucks has confirmed to iLounge that while CD floor space and selection will be reduced, its relationship with Apple will continue. Starbucks spokesman Doug Cavarocchi told iLounge, “By focusing our CD offerings to a hand-selected group of no more than four titles at a time we will be able to build on our trusted curatorial voice and tell a story with each title we recommend to our customers. To that end the CD floor fixture currently deployed in more than 6,500 Starbucks company operated locations in the U.S. and Canada will be removed in September, 2008, and our music CD selections will be concentrated to four positions at point of sale.” Cavarocchi also responded to concerns about the future of Apple-related products in Starbucks stores, saying, “Our partnership with Apple will proceed and we will continue to offer innovative products from iTunes in our Company-operated locations in the U.S.”

Warner offers iTunes Digital Download with 10,000 BC Blu-ray

Warner Home Video has unexpectedly unveiled an alternative to Apple’s iTunes Digital Copy program with the Blu-ray release of its movie 10,000 BC. iTunes Digital Copy, which first debuted via a partnership between Apple and Twentieth Century Fox, provides customers who purchase a DVD or Blu-ray disc with an additional, iTunes-compatible digital copy of the movie. As noted on Warner’s 10,000BC web site, the Blu-ray Disc version of the film provides buyers with an iTunes-ready Digital Download rather than an on-disc add-on due to capacity constraints, the first time that the extra has been offered as a download. According to a report, the iTunes-ready file will not be offered on the DVD version of the film. Apple unveiled the iTunes Digital Copy program in January; since then, Lionsgate has also announced its intentions to include iTunes Digital Copies on select DVD and Blu-Ray releases. Neither Apple nor Warner has released any official announcement regarding the partnership.

Telefónica: 300K iPhone 3G pre-orders in U.K., Spain

Telefónica SA has received 300,000 pre-registrations to purchase the iPhone 3G in the United Kingdom and Spain, according to a CNNMoney report. A Telefónica spokesperson said customers have been reserving units of the iPhone 3G through the company’s website since it announced it would sell the device earlier this month. Telefónica is the parent company of O2, and operates under the Movistar brand in Spain. It will begin selling the iPhone 3G in Spain, the U.K., and Ireland on July 11, and will offer the handset in the Czech Republic and in twelve Latin American countries later this year.

O2 announces U.K. Pay & Go iPhone 3G Pricing

O2 has posted its iPhone 3G pricing for Pay & Go customers in the United Kingdom. The 8GB iPhone 3G will be available without a monthly contract for £299.99 (around $590), while the 16GB model will run £359.99 (around $708). Both models will include 6 months of unlimited browsing and Wi-Fi, benefits that will cost pay-as-you-go customers £10 per month afterwards. [via Mac Rumors]

New Greenpeace report downgrades Apple

Greenpeace has released its latest Guide to Greener Electronics, which ranks the 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TV’s and games consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals and recycling. The report lists Apple in 11th position scoring 4.1 points out of ten, down from 6 points in the last guide. Greenpeace lauded the company for its “millions of iPods [that] now have bromine-free enclosures and printed circuit board laminates,” and its free recycling of iPods and mobile phones, but said it “scores poorly on most e-waste criteria,” and “does only slightly better on energy criteria.” It also praised the company’s iPod and iPhone power adapters, which not only exceed the Energy Star standard, but also already meet California’s stricter efficiency regulations that take effect on July 1. A more complete explanation of Apple’s results and Greenpeace’s methods can be found here (PDF link).

Spain set to impose tax on iPod, iPhone

Spain is set to impose a “digital canon” anti-piracy tax on all electronic devices capable of recording, copying, or storing sound and images, beginning July 1. The tax would add €3.15 (around $4.90) to the price of an MP3 player such as an iPod, and also provides for a €1.10 (around $1.70) tax on all mobile phones with integrated MP3 music capabilities, such as the iPhone. Pedro Farré, authors’ rights director for author and publisher group SGAE, said, “we are satisfied that this ministerial order has been approved after so much delay, and we now hope the manufacturers will pay the canon. Technically, the manufacturers pay the canon - whether they pass the cost on to the public is their decision.”

Barack Obama reveals his iPod’s contents

In an interview with Rolling Stone to be published later this week, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama has revealed some of the contents of his personal iPod. “I have pretty eclectic tastes,” said Obama, who said he had music from a wide range of artists on his iPod, from Miles Davis and John Coltrane to Jay-Z and Ludacris. Obama, who grew up in the 1970’s, said he listened to the Rolling Stones (his favorite Stones track is the seminal “Gimme Shelter”), Elton John, and Earth Wind and Fire, adding that Stevie Wonder was his “musical hero” of the period.

Interestingly, Obama also had a wide selection of tracks from Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ favorite Bob Dylan, including the entire Blood on the Tracks album. “Actually, one of my favorites during the political season is ‘Maggie’s Farm,’ ” Obama said. “It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric.” In the song, Dylan sings about trying be himself, “but everybody wants you to be just like them.” Many musicians appearing on Obama’s iPod have lent him their support during his campaign, including Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. “I’ve got to say, having both Dylan and Bruce Springsteen say kind words about you is pretty remarkable,” Obama said. “Those guys are icons.”

Obama also admits to having concerns over the the content of some rap music to which his daughters might be exposed. “I am troubled sometimes by the misogyny and materialism of a lot of rap lyrics,” he said, “but I think the genius of the art form has shifted the culture and helped to desegregate music.” He went on to call hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and rappers Jay-Z and Ludacris “great talents and great businessmen,” adding that “it would be nice if I could have my daughters listen to their music without me worrying that they were getting bad images of themselves.”

iLuv rolls out i1255 Desktop iPod / DVD Player

iLuv has begun shipping its i1255 Desktop iPod / DVD Player. Originally announced in January, the i1255 is a combo desktop DVD player with built-in iPod Dock that also features on-screen display for navigation of the iPod from a TV screen, a remote control, and compatibility with DVD, VCD, MP3 CD, Audio CD, and Kodak Picture CD. It also offers S-Video or AV video output, and compatibility with late-2007 model iPods. The iLuv i1255 Desktop iPod / DVD Player is available now and sells for $150.

Photo of the Week: iPod touch in Canada

This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows an iPod touch near an iceberg just south of St John’s, Canada. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!

Apple makes changes to iPod games, rental listings

In preparation for the rollout of the App Store and further expansion of its movie rental services, Apple has made a series of subtle changes to its iTunes Store listings for both iPod Games and movie rentals. Today, Apple officially changed the heading on its iPod Games pages from “iPod Games” to “iPod classic and nano Games,” differentiating the current listings from possible future listings for iPod touch- and iPhone-compatible games. In addition, the company has begun listing the date that films will be available for rent on the purchase pages. The second change may be to aid users who had hoped to rent a title and were confused as to why it was available for purchase but not for rent, or as a prelude to pre-orders for automatic film rental downloads to a computer.

Innotech intros Accenda Voice Control for iPod

Voice and remote control manufacturer Innotech has introduced the Accenda Voice Control for iPod, a new accessory that will allow iPod users to control their devices with voice commands. The Voice Control consists of a small in-line box that attaches to the iPod’s Dock Connector and provides a headphone output with a bass-boost function. Once connected to the iPod, the Voice Control listens for the word “iPod,” and then listens for the voice command and performs the desired operation. Commands for the Voice Control include adjusting of the volume, play, stop, next/previous track, and replay song. The Voice Control can be worn around a user’s neck or clipped to a shirt or lapel, and is compatible with all Dock-connecting iPods, save for the third-generation iPod. The Accenda Voice Control for iPod will sell for $100 and is expected to be available in September.

Logitech quietly ships Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 for iPod & iPhone

Logitech has quietly begun shipping its unannounced Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 Compact Speakers for iPod & iPhone. A direct replacement for last year’s Pure-Fi Anywhere, the new system adds iPhone compatibility to the Anywhere’s prior feature set of one-touch access to shuffle and repeat functions, a wireless remote control, 3-inch pressure drivers for maximum bass response, StereXL technology to widen the stereo image, a 10-hour rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a battery-life indicator, an integrated Universal Dock, a protective travel case, and an AC adapter with integrated cable management. The Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 comes in white or black and is currently available from Apple’s retail stores for $130.

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