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iHome rolls out iH41 Alarm Clock for iPod

iHome has announced the release of its iH41 Alarm Clock for iPod. Designed with the iPod touch in mind but compatible with most docking iPod models, the iH41 features an L-shaped design that allows the user to rotate the unit on its side for video viewing. When rotated, the display also changes orientation to match that of the iPod. Other features include EXB Expanded Bass and Reson8 speaker technology, a battery backup to maintain the time and alarm settings during power failures, a line-in jack for connecting other audio sources, a snooze bar, and an included remote control. The iHome iH41 Alarm Clock for iPod is available now and sells for $80.

$999.99 I Am Rich app hits the App Store [Updated]

Described as “a work of art with no hidden function at all,” a new $999.99 iPhone application has appeared on the App Store. I Am Rich by Armin Heinrich does very little despite its exorbitant price tag, displaying a screen with a red jewel and an info button that can be clicked to show a “secret mantra” that “may help you to stay rich, healthy, and successful.” It is unclear why Apple chose to approve an application that costs so much and does so little, but I Am Rich may further elucidate the nature of Apple’s software review procedures.

Update: It appears the app has been pulled from the App Store.

International iPhone 3G roll-out: Romania, India, Philippines [Updated x2]

The iPhone 3G will be introduced in Romania, India, and the Philippines on August 22, the countries’ carriers have announced. Orange has announced that it will begin offering the phone in Romania on the 22, with pre-orders beginning on August 7. Bharti Airtel will begin offering the phone in India on August 22, possibly before Vodafone will start its sales in the same region. Finally, Globe Telecom has announced that it will offer the iPhone 3G in the Philippines from August 22, with reservations being offered immediately. Out of the three carriers, only Globe Telecom has announced pricing details thus far. It will offer the 8GB iPhone 3G for free and the 16GB model for as little as P5,500 (~$126) with a two-year commitment on its most expensive (P4999; ~$114) monthly plan, pricing for the handset is tiered based on the plan the user chooses. It will also offer the iPhone for prepaid customers at a cost of P41,889 (~$957) for the 8GB model and P48,899 (~$1,117) for the 16GB model. Full handset and service pricing can be found on Globe’s website.

Update: Telia Sonera has announced that it will offer the iPhone 3G in Estonia starting on August 22 through its EMT brand. Pricing details have yet to be announced. [via setteB.IT]

Update x2: O2 in the Czech Republic, Orange and Era (Translated link) in Poland, and T-Mobile in Hungary have all announced that they will offer the iPhone 3G in their respective countries beginning on August 22.

Photo of the Week: iPod in Greece

This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows a fourth-generation iPod on the beach of Paramona in Corfu, Greece. 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!

App Store Finds: Frogger, AkiMahjong, Flickbook, Cocktails

An iPhone and iPod touch version of the arcade classic Frogger has been released on the App Store. The $9.99 app, released by Konami Digital Entertainment, is a basic port of the original, with the point of the game to guide five frogs to safety in order to advance to the next level. It also boasts enhanced graphics, and sounds from the original game. Strangely, it is listed as only being compatible with the iPhone, although iLounge editors have been able to load the game on the iPod touch.

Ambrosia’s $4.99 Aki Mahjong game has received a substantial update, which adds a new zoom-in mode, new and improved tile artwork, 25 additional bonus levels, and more. You can find out more about the original version of Aki Mahjong in our iPhone Gems: Mahjong article.

Flickbook is a new application that allows users to create simple animations on the iPhone and iPod touch. The $4.99 application from Ollie Wagner and Geoff Pado features colors that build up for shading, an underlay of the last frame for easier animation, the ability to store unlimited animations, and more.

Cocktails is a $4.99 drink recipe reference application from Skorpiostech that offers users access to thousands of cocktail and mixed drink recipes from their iPhone or iPod touch. Features include full-text searching across recipe names and ingredients, the ability to browse by base, drink type, flavor, or alphabetically, the ability to favorite frequently used recipes, share recipes though email and Twitter, and more. In addition, the application presents each recipe on a background that corresponds to its age, so that older recipes appear to be printed on weathered parchment, while newer drinks appear on a flat white backdrop.

Mophie intros Juice Pack for iPhone 3G

Mophie has introduced its new Juice Pack for the iPhone 3G. Like the company’s Juice Packs for iPhone and iPod touch, the iPhone 3G version houses a rechargeable lithium polymer battery within a soft touch, non-slip rear case. According to Mophie, the Juice Pack offers an additional 350 hours of standby time, 6 hours of talk time on 3G, 12 hours of talk time on 2G, 6 hours of Internet use on 3G, 8 hours of video playback, or 28 hours of audio playback. Other features include “Works With iPhone” certification, a 4 LED charge status indicator, and a USB passthrough port for charging and syncing. The Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 3G is available for pre-order now and will ship in September for $100.

Mix: Softbank, MobileMe, Sony BMG, Tap Tap Revenge

Softbank has announced that iPhone users in Japan will now pay less for their service depending on their internet use. The company will begin offering plans as for as little as 2,990 yen (~$28) a month, less than half the cost of the lowest plan available at the device’s introduction. Softbank said the new pricing will kick in for all iPhone users next month, and that users will pay on a staggered scale, up to the 7,280 yen (~$67) charged for unlimited use. In addition, the AP reports that the company will start accepting reservations for the currently-sold out phone on Wednesday.

In an internal email, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has admitted to some of the flaws in the company’s launch of its MobileMe service. “It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store,” Jobs said. “We all had more than enough to do, and MobileMe could have been delayed without consequence.” Jobs is also restructuring the MobileMe team, with the group now reporting to Eddy Cue, the former vice president of iTunes who will now oversee iTunes, the App Store, and MobileMe as leader of the company’s Internet services.

Update: SetteB.IT has posted a screenshot of the complete email from Steve Jobs.

Bertelsmann AG has announced that it will sell its 50% stake in Sony BMG to Sony for $1.2 billion, giving Sony full ownership of the music label. According to the announcement, the new company will be called Sony Music Entertainment and will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corp. of America. “Music has been a vital and vibrant part of Sony’s culture for over 20 years. This acquisition will allow us to achieve a deeper and more robust integration between the wide-ranging global assets of the music company and Sony’s products, operating companies and affiliates,” Sony CEO Howard Stringer said in a statement.

Tapulous’ Tap Tap Revenge game for the iPhone and iPod touch has likely become the first application to cross the 1 million unique downloads mark, a number it reached late last week, according to information provided to iLounge by the company. The music-based game allows users to tap in rhythm on markers moving across the screen — somewhat similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band — and also offers downloadable tracks. Tap Tap Revenge is available as a free download from the App Store.

Gameloft releases Mystery Mansion Pinball iPod game

Gameloft S.A. has released its Mystery Mansion Pinball game for the fifth-generation iPod, iPod classic, and iPod nano (with video). The game is a pinball simulator featuring various “scary” characters such as Frankenstein’s monster, werewolves, vampires, and more, special sound effects, animations, lighting, and 3D graphics, a variety of bonuses and unlockable play modes, including five mini-games that can be played on the machine’s LED scoreboard, and more. Gameloft’s Mystery Mansion Pinball is available now from the iTunes Store and sells for $4.99.

NPD: iTunes retains U.S. music retail lead

According to the latest data from The NPD Group, iTunes remained the largest U.S.-based music retailer through the first half of 2008. From January to June, iTunes was the number one retailer, followed by Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Amazon, and Target. “We expect Apple will consolidate its lead in the retail music market, as CD sales continue to slow,” said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group. “Amazon’s CD buyers tend to be older, so they haven’t abandoned the CD format to the extent seen in the average music buyer. Plus Amazon’s successful introduction of its digital download store will help the company improve its position in the future.” NPD’s rankings are based on purchases of CDs and a-la-carte digital music downloads, using an equivalency of 12 single-track downloads per CD, for retailers who sell digital music as single tracks. In April, Apple announced that it had passed Wal-Mart to become the top music retailer in the U.S., based on sales information from January and February of 2008.

Colorware now offering mail-in iPhone 3G coloring

Colorware is now offering its mail-in custom coloring services for the iPhone 3G. Available with either solid or metallic paint for a total of 35 color options, each selection comes with a high-gloss, scratch resistant finish formulated to protect against minor scuffs from normal usage. Coloring for the back only costs $150, while the frame ($20), home button ($20), SIM card tray ($10), and earbuds ($10) can all be colored as well, for an extra charge. Colorware’s Mail-in Custom Coloring service for the iPhone 3G is available now, with devices shipping back in approximately two weeks.

Apple releases iPhone Software 2.0.1

Apple today released iPhone Software 2.0.1, the first update to the iPhone and iPod touch software since the release of the iPhone 3G and the arrival of the App Store. According to Apple, the update contains simply “Bug fixes.” The download is 249.2MB in size for the iPhone, or 246.7MB for the iPod touch, and is available now for the iPhone, the iPhone 3G, and iPod touch units running software version 2.0 through the update feature in iTunes.

Latest iPhone 3G problem: dusty screens

Following reports last week of cracking iPhone 3G plastic shells, additional reports have surfaced this week that some iPhone 3G screens are susceptible to dust and dirt intrusion, creating dots that are stuck underneath the glass of the phone’s face. According to several readers posting in an iLounge forum thread, the problem may be linked to a loose seal around the screen, which allows for gaps between the screen and bezel, letting small particles slide inside the device. One iLounge editor has confirmed that the dust intrusion problem exists on his phone, as shown in the photo here. As it is possible that the problem could worsen over time, and could lead to more significant problems/damage, we recommend returning any affected units to Apple for replacement.

Mix: iPhone nano?, Noreve Diamond, Foxconn, iPhone Russia

United Kingdom-based newspaper The Daily Mail reports that Apple plans to release a “nano” version of the iPhone in time for the holiday season. The report, which cites only one anonymous industry source, suggests the product would be aimed at pay-as-you-go customers that might find the iPhone 3G too expensive.

Noreve has introduced its new Diamond Leather Case for the iPhone 3G (pictured). The simple sleeve-style case is adorned with 272 diamonds with a total weight of 6.8 karats, and also features soft interior lining and access to the phone’s headphone jack and power button. The Noreve Diamond Leather Case for iPhone 3G is available now and sells for 9,990€ (~$15,570).

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer that builds the iPhone 3G for Apple, has ramped up production of the handset to 800,000 units per week, according to TechCrunch. Citing a source close to Apple with direct knowledge of the numbers, TechCrunch reports that the number is “above current full capacity,” and there may be concerns with quality control given that fact. The report goes on to state that Foxconn is now producing iPhones at a rate of 40 million units per year, more than early estimates of demand for 25 million iPhone 3G’s over the product’s life cycle.

Apple will begin selling the iPhone 3G in Russia in 2009, according to a new report. Citing Russian publication Vedomosti, Kommersant reports that Pyotr Semenov, Sales Director for official Apple retailer Maczone, claimed that the iPhone would be available in the country after the new year. The report also states that Russian carriers MTS, VimpelCom and MegaFon all confirmed that they were in negotiations with Apple over the iPhone, although the publication’s unnamed sources did not expect any one of the three to receive exclusive rights.

‘Ask the Editor’ article coming, submit your questions today

Alongside our weekly Ask iLounge column, which focuses mainly on technical issues related to iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV, iLounge this week will post an “Ask the Editor” article, in which iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz will be responding to a number of reader questions. Topics may include everything from favorite products in different categories to our views on events in the Apple pocket device world to iLounge’s editorial policies and behind-the-scenes details. To submit your question for inclusion in this week’s article, simply email Jeremy at iLounge dot com with the Subject “Ask the Editor Submission.” We’ll be reading through your questions, and will select a handful to be answered in the article later this week.

AT&T, O2 iPhone exclusivity end dates in sight?

Never formally disclosed by any of the companies, the length and nature of Apple’s iPhone exclusivity deals with AT&T in the U.S. and O2 in the United Kingdom have been called into further question by two recent reports. In an article for USA Today, Leslie Cauley reports that in exchange for a recent agreement to pay Apple a subsidy for every iPhone 3G it sells, AT&T received a one-year extension on its exclusive iPhone distribution deal with Apple, pushing the agreement into 2010. However, Cauley previously claimed in a May 2007 article that “AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years,” suggesting that the contract would run through 2012, and that an extension would bind Apple to AT&T through 2013. AT&T and Apple have not spoken publicly on the length of the agreement, but the more recent report appears to reflect a more accurate understanding of the deal terms.

In a separate article, United Kingdom-based newspaper The Guardian reports that while Apple’s agreement with O2 was believed to run through 2012, a window for renegotiation after two years may leave Apple with the ability to partner with a second carrier, possibly as soon as Christmas 2009. The report suggests Orange as a possible carrier, as it already offers the iPhone in France, and was said to have been very close to becoming the phone’s carrier in the U.K. before being dropped in favor of O2 “at the last minute.” Orange UK boss Tom Alexander said, “I would love the iPhone, especially with our big emphasis on [mobile] data [services], it would be great to have.”

Apple pulls Box Office app, Nullriver responds to NetShare removal

Apple has pulled another application, Box Office, from its App Store, while Nullriver has posted a statement regarding the removal of its NetShare application. Box Office, a popular movie listing search and browsing application, was removed from the store over the weekend with no explanation from Apple. In a posting on the Mac Rumors forums, the developer of the application said, “Apple pulled the app yesterday without giving my any notification that they were doing it, or what their justification was for removing it. I’ve tried to contact them about the issue, but it’s been a complete dead end. If anyone has a useful contact number for apple, please let me know. I’m in regular contact with all my data providers, and none of them have had an issue with my app. Indeed, the response was the exact opposite. They like my app and have even asked if i would do custom application work for them in the future. Furthermore, all the data i use is licensed by the owners as ‘free for non commercial use’. i.e. precisely what BoxOffice is.”

In a related development, Nullriver Software, developers of the NetShare iPhone tethering application that was posted to and then removed from the App Store multiple times last week, posted the following statement on their website regarding the app: “We’re not quite sure why Apple took down the NetShare application yet, we’ve received no communication from Apple thus far. NetShare did not violate any of the Developer or App Store agreements. We’re hoping we’ll get some feedback from Apple today. Sorry to all the folks that couldn’t get it in time. We’ll do our best to try to get the application back onto the App Store if at all possible. At the very least, we hope Apple will allow it to be used in countries where the provider does permit tethering.”

Apple explains Works With iPhone 3G re-certification

Following announcements this week that certain iPhone accessory manufacturers had received iPhone 3G certification for previously released accessories under Apple’s Works With iPhone program, iLounge contacted Apple to clarify the reasons that past iPhone accessories might need to be re-certified for use with the new handset. Apple spokesman Simon Pope explained that re-certification has occured on some products “because of the addition of the 2100 [MHz] band in iPhone 3G,” adding that “[t]he “Works With iPhone” certification should appear on packaging with icons that let customers know which iPhone models a product is compatible with.” An example of Apple’s iPhone 3G icon and text, which will appear on iPhone 3G-compatible Works With iPhone products, is pictured; certain previous Works With iPhone products contained only the Works With iPhone label, rather than specific product icons.

NetShare app re-appears on iTunes Store

NetShare, a new iPhone application for sharing your phone’s cellular internet connection over Wi-Fi, has reappeared on the App Store following its removal last evening. It is unclear if Apple has decided to let sales of the application proceed, or if this is simply a brief reappearance due to a glitch. NetShare is available through the App Store via this direct link and sells for $9.99. [via Waxy]

iTunes/iPhone Problem poll ends, MobileMe poll begins

With over 3,100 votes from iLounge readers, our latest iLounge poll — “Are you having stability problems with iTunes 7.7, iPhone OS 2.0, or Apple TV 2.1” — has ended. Readers were given choices between issues with one, all three, or combinations of two of the products, along with an option to say that everything was running smoothly.

Over 60% of readers reported problems with at least one of the recent software releases, with the largest percentage (31%) saying they were having trouble with iPhone OS 2.0 only. Another 13% of readers said they were having trouble with both iPhone OS 2.0 and iTunes 7.7, while 12% said they were having trouble with iTunes 7.7 only. A small number of readers (4%) said they were having trouble with all three products, while less than 2% reported problems with Apple TV 2.1, or Apple TV 2.1 and iTunes 7.7, most likely owing to the small number of Apple TV users, or less serious issues. Finally, 39% of readers said that everything was running smoothly.

Our new poll focuses on Apple’s $99/year MobileMe service, which was launched alongside the iPhone 3G, iTunes 7.7, and iPhone OS 2.0, promising to synchronize a Mac or PC’s e-mail, contacts, calendars, and photographs for iPhone and iPod touch users. We’d like to know if the service interests you, and if so, why? Does MobileMe appeal primarily to your needs as a Mac or PC user, as an iPhone or iPod touch user, or for some other reason? Or are you not interested, either due to the recent service problems, because you can’t see yourself paying for it, or another issue? The new poll, “Does Apple’s $99 MobileMe service interest you?” lets you answer that question. As always, the iLounge Poll is on the left hand column of the main home page. Cast your vote today!

Some iTunes users locked out of accounts, downloads

A number of iTunes users, including at least one iLounge editor, are experiencing difficulties logging into, and downloading items from, the iTunes Store. Two separate error codes, error -4 and error 5002, have been associated with the issue, and may be a sign that users have been locked out of their iTunes accounts. Several users on Apple’s discussion boards believed that the problem was related to a change to the country in which they were browsing listings, however, it appears that this is not the only way to bring about the error, which results in an inability to access one’s account with the previously chosen password. Attempts to reset the iTunes account password, and/or toggling the iTunes Store’s One-Click/Shopping Card settings under Preferences>Store, may fix the problem.

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