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NPD: iPod sales down 14% in January

According to the latest data released by The NPD Group, iPod sales were down 14% year-over-year in January. Fortune reports that Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster said Wall Street expectations were for an 11% drop in iPod sales. Despite the falling unit sales, the average price of iPods rose 4% in January, compared to an expected 3% drop. Overall, Munster believes iPod unit sales will fall between 6% and 15% for the quarter. “Given concerns regarding iPod weakness,” Munster said, “we believe the segment’s in-line performance relative to  Street expectations is a positive.”

Photo of the Week: iPod touch in Sweden

This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows an iPod touch on a snowy hillside in Åre, Sweden. 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 rejects ‘South Park’ iPhone application

Apple has twice rejected a South Park application for the iPhone and iPod touch because the content was “potentially offensive.” Originally previewed in October, the app would allow users to stream clips, download wallpapers, read news, browse the show’s complete episode index, and choose character likenesses to use as contact images. A member of the team working on the app told Boing Boing Gadgets, “After a couple of attempts to get the application approved, we are sad to say that our app has been rejected…. But Apple did admit that the standards would evolve, citing that when iTunes first launched it didn’t sell any music with explicit lyrics. At this point, we are sad to say, the app is dead in the water. Sorry, South Park fans.”

GameResort releases Biplane for iPhone, iPod touch

GameResort, maker of Downhill Bowling, has released Biplane: Wings of Raccoon, the developer’s second game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Biplane puts players in the role of Captain Raccoon, as he navigates the skies on a mission to defend his island from pirate attackers. The game offers two game modes—arcade and race—as well as tilt-based plane controls, nine race tracks, and 3D graphics. Biplane: Wings of Raccoon is available now from the App Store and sells for $2.

Vegas casinos warned of card-counting iPhone app

Nevada gambling regulators have warned the state’s casinos about a card-counting application that runs on the iPhone and iPod touch. Card counting enables Blackjack players to track the high and low cards played, so that bets can be adjusted when odds are in their favor. While the trick is not illegal, it is heavily frowned upon by casinos, and the use of devices to help count cards is a felony in some jurisdictions. The Nevada regulators originally learned of the app from California regulators, who had been informed by employees of an Indian casino. No specific application is mentioned in the original report, however, there are at least two card counting apps—Card Counter ($3) and A Blackjack Card Counter ($4)—currently available from the App Store.

MWC Mix: WinMo 6.5, Nokia Ovi, HTC Touch, Samsung Omnia HD

The 2009 Mobile World Congress is going on now in Barcelona, Spain, and has already brought a number of large announcements from Apple’s iPhone competitors, including the announcement of several App Store clones, touch-based interfaces, and more. We note the key announcements for readers who may be interested in keeping up on news that may impact future iPhone development.

Microsoft has announced Windows Mobile 6.5, a revamp of its existing smartphone and PDA platform. The new version includes a number of changes to make the OS more touch-friendly, including a new honeycomb-styled main menu, touchable elements in Internet Explorer, and finger-friendly home and contacts screens. The software will begin appearing on devices by year’s end. Alongside the software, Microsoft also announced Windows Marketplace and My Phone for Windows Mobile, clones of Apple’s App Store and MobileMe services, respectively. Both will be available with Windows Mobile 6.5.

Like Microsoft, Nokia has announced an App Store competitor, limited to its Symbian OS devices, and called Ovi. The store will be pre-integrated on the upcoming N97 and available to many users of existing S40 and S60 phones, offering both applications and games, a feature that learns the users’ tastes to make recommendations, location-based recommendations, and more. The company has launched a developer site as well, which touts a 70% revenue share—the same as Apple offers developers with paid apps in the App Store.

HTC, makers of touchscreen Windows Mobile phones and Google’s hardware partner on the “G” branded Android devices, has announced two new touch-based phones, both with 480x800-pixel screens. The Touch Pro2 features a slide-out 5-row QWERTY keyboard, a dual microphone/speaker for improved conference and speakerphone capabilities, an adjustable tilt screen for enhanced viewing, and more. The Touch Diamond2 offers a 5-megapixel camera, microSD expansion, and more. While the 480x800-pixel display is 3.6 inches on the Pro2, it’s a smaller 3.2 inches on the Diamond2; both include an Enhanced TouchFLO 3D interface to make the underlying Windows Mobile software more touch-friendly.

Finally, Samsung has also introduced a new touchscreen phone, the Omnia HD. Apart from its 3.7-inch, 360x480 pixel Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) screen, the phone also features either 8 or 16GB of internal storage, a MicroSDHC expansion slot, HSUPA, GPS, Bluetooth, and an 8 Megapixel camera that allows users to shoot 24fps 720p high-definition video.

Apple sued over iPhone screen drawing tech

Piscel Technologies, a mobile software developer, has filed suit against Apple claiming that the graphics rendering technology used in the iPhone and iPod touch infringes on Piscel’s patents. The complaint claims that Apple’s methods for accelerating movements such as panning and zooming effectively copy Piscel’s own acceleration technologies. Piscel currently supplies software to other mobile manufacturers such as Sharp, Motorola, and Palm, although it is unclear whether these relationships involve the specific rendering technologies referenced in the suit. Piscel is seeking full damages according to the number of iPhone OS devices already sold, in addition to punitive damages equaling triple the original damages amount.

Still time to enter the Vestalife 5&5 Speaker Giveaway

If you haven’t yet entered our Vestalife 5&5 Giveaway, you still have a chance to do so. In our Giveaway of the Month for February, ten lucky readers will win a Vestalife speaker system, with five winners receiving Ladybugs and five receiving Butterfly systems. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on February 28, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Google enables spreadsheet edits from iPhone

Google has made changes to its Google Docs site to allow spreadsheet editing from mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch. The changes allow users to view, edit, sort, and filter spreadsheets, and are available in all 38 languages supported in Google Docs spreadsheets. It is unclear when or if the company plans to add mobile editing to the other supported document formats. To access the new features, simply visit from your iPhone or iPod touch.

Sign up for iPodweek, arriving shortly

iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter recapping the last seven days in news, articles, reviews, and more, will be sent out to our email subscribers later today. In addition to rounding up the week’s top stories, iPodweek also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive iPodweek, there’s still time to register and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.

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Apple: Jailbreaking iPhones and iPod touches is illegal

In comments filed with the U.S. Copyright Office related to a proposed new exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which would explicitly allow jailbreaking of iPhones, Apple has argued that jailbreaking constitutes copyright infringement and a DMCA violation, and is therefore illegal. The company claims that jailbroken iPhones depend on modified versions of Apple’s copyrighted bootloader and operating system software, and that these more open versions compromise safety, security, and reliability, along with making it easier for users who wish to pirate software. In the days following the iPhone’s release, Apple actively combatted jailbreaking through changes to the device’s software; it had appeared to give these measures less attention since the launch of iPhone OS 2.0 and the App Store, which provides a legal way to add applications to the devices. [via BoingBoing]

Next-generation iPhone photos leaked online?

New photos supposedly showing the back casing of the next-generation iPhone have been posted online. Mac Rumors claims that the images originate from China, showing a matte-black 16GB iPhone back casing, carrying the previously unused model number A1303. Apart from the matte black surface and what appears to be a white Apple logo, the backing is quite similar to that of the iPhone 3G in both the location of the holes and interior layout. Previous pre-announcement leaks of iPhone casings have been surprisingly accurate, however, it remains unclear whether this will actually be the rear shell of a next-generation device.

China Unicom in negotiations with Apple over iPhone

Following a report from earlier this week indicating that Apple and China Mobile had broken off talks over the iPhone due to a disagreement over control of the App Store, a new report states that rival carrier China Unicom is now in talks to bring the handset to mainland China. “Yes, we are in talks with Apple Inc.,” a Unicom manager told China Business News. China Unicom plans to rollout a new WCDMA network on May 17, but it is unclear whether a deal between the two companies could be completed in time. “China Unicom has held several rounds of negotiations with Apple Inc.,” said an anonymous source within the company, “but there are still many obstacles ahead.” According to the report, the companies have yet to come to an agreement on what apps may come pre-installed on the device, and are also facing difficulties due to regulatory issues and disagreement on policy restrictions and business model differences. [via MDN]

AdMob: iPod touch use jumped in January

Mobile advertisement firm AdMob has revealed its Mobile Metrics report for January. According to the data, worldwide requests from Apple devices grew 28% month over month to 1.2 billion in January, with the iPod touch outpacing the iPhone’s growth in top markets. The iPod touch now represents 40% of ad requests from Apple devices, doubling September’s 20% share. In early January, AdMob revealed that iPod touch requests had more than tripled worldwide from November to December; it is unclear how many of these increases can be attributed to sales of AdMob-supported applications.

MyFonts intros WhatTheFont for iPhone

Font warehouse MyFonts has released WhatTheFont, its new typeface identification application for the iPhone and iPod touch. WhatTheFont allows the user to snap a picture of any type and upload it to MyFonts in order to find out what font it is, along with the ability to email a link to the font. iPod touch users can also use the application by accessing images saved in the Photo Library. WhatTheFont is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Speakal debuts iBoo iPod speaker system

Speakal has introduced the iBoo, a new iPod speaker system. The iBoo is a ghost-styled system featuring an integrated iPod dock, three speakers, including a 9 Watt subwoofer, a 3.5mm auxiliary input, touch-based controls, an included mini-remote, and a total output of 15 Watts. Available now in red, white, and blue, the Speakal iBoo sells for $90.

Mix: 20,000 Apps, Beatles, UK iTunes HD, Fastweet 2K

According to tracking site Apptism, the App Store has passed the 20,000 app mark. The current count on the site reads 20,410 apps, but as site tracks both released and upcoming apps, the number may be a bit smaller—although only 10 apps are currently listed in the Previews section. Apple has yet to make an official announcement marking the occasion.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, former Beatles member Sir Paul McCartney has indicated that talks to bring the band’s catalog to iTunes are still ongoing. When asked about the situation, McCartney said, “It’s a bit of a sticky issue. We want it to happen. The record company was taken over by new people quite recently, so there is a gridlock of sorts. I’d like to make it happen. Though I am not part of the negotiations, thank goodness.”

The U.K. iTunes Store has added a number of new HD-formatted TV shows to its offerings. The ABC series LOST has been joined by other US shows including House, The Office, 30 Rock, and Battlestar Galactica, as well as the second season of BBC program Gavin and Stacey and nature documentary Planet Earth. [via Macworld UK]

Glucose has released Fastweet 2K, a new Twitter client application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Fastweet features a bottom-tabbed interface with options for viewing your main timeline—up to 2,000 tweets—tweets addressed to you, and a dedicated tweet posting area. It also renders link via the Google Mobile Gateway for quick glances. Fastweet 2K is available now and sells for $2; a free version, which is limited to 200 tweets, is also available.

Mophie unveils Juice Pack Air for iPhone 3G

Mophie has introduced its Juice Pack Air, a thinner, more case-like version of its Juice Pack external battery pack for the iPhone 3G. The Juice Pack Air features a rechargeable 1200mAh lithium polymer battery integrated in a hard-shell case. The Air will also feature pass-through USB charging and syncing, an on/off switch, a 4 LED charge status indicator, and a slide-together design. Premiering in black, white, or purple, the Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 3G is available for pre-order now at a price of $80, and will ship this spring.

Rockstar switches to iTunes for GTA music partnership

Rockstar games has dropped Amazon in favor of iTunes as its music partner for the latest Grand Theft Auto release, Variety reports. Players of Grand Theft Auto IV were able to buy any of the songs featured on the Game’s radio stations via an in-game “Zit” service, which worked in partnership with Amazon’s MP3 store and the Rockstar Social website—but in the latest release, that service will be tied to iTunes, instead. Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned is a downloadable episode that will include updates to five of the Game’s 19 virtual radio stations, with new tracks from artists including Busta Rhymes and Funkmaster Flex. The report indicates that Apple was left out of the initial package due to its DRM-scheme, which has since been dropped from iTunes downloads.

Photo of the Week: iPhone 3G in Kentucky

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G outside during the recent ice storm in Lexington, Kentucky. 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!

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