An industrious iLounge reader has taken an old iPod mini unit and rebuilt it using nothing but natural wood and screws, and has also made matching wooden accessories. Forum member Josh, from Australia, took the guts of his first iPod mini and handmade a new case for the device using Australian red cedar, Camphor Laurel for the working Click Wheel, brass plates, and brass screws—the design requires no glue, and is held together exclusively by the screws, save for the Click Wheel which is attached to the sensor via double-sided tape. Wanting to go further and create a complete set of accessories, Josh also gutted an iTrip mini he had on hand, building a new light red cedar case for the unit that matches the new dimensions and body of the wooden iPod mini. Finally, he gutted his original iPod mini dock, re-encasing the components in a piece of Camphor Laurel wood, with a slightly larger opening to accommodate the dimensions of the wooden mini. Congratulations to Josh on his creation! Continue reading for a few extra shots of the device; see his forum post and Flickr account for even more photos.
While the iPod nano and new video iPod are receiving all of the attention this holiday season, Apple’s discontinued iPod mini is still at the top of many Christmas lists and is fetching top dollar at online stores and auctions.
“Patrick McHenry of Eerie, Pa., for example, just bought a pink 4GB Mini, which holds 1,000 songs, on eBay for $275. That’s $76 over the original $199 price tag,” reports CNET News.com’s Michelle Meyers. “But it’s also less than McHenry would have paid at Compu-America—one of the few electronics retailers with the Mini in stock. The store is selling the same model for $349. And sellers on Amazon are listing prices for the 4GB Mini at more than $400.”
eBay spokesman Dean Jutilla said that about 36,000 minis have sold on eBay in the past three months, with an average of 15 to 16 bids per auction. Jutilla also noted that the average price per mini—whether 4GB or 6GB—has gone up from $173 to $229.
Apple has accused a Korean music player maker of illegally copying the design of the iPod mini. Iops, the fifth-largest MP3 player seller in South Korea, received a complaint from Apple in October which demanded the company stop selling two of its models—Iops Jock and Iops Z3—because they rip-off Apple’s designs.
In the letter sent to Iops, Apple also asked that the company compensate the iPod maker for lost sales, and demanded an official apology to be printed in more than two of the daily newspapers in South Korea. “Iops rebuffed the claim, saying it is waiting for further action from Apple,” The Korea Times reports. “The Korean firm said that it is expecting an international legal suit from Apple.”
Despite announcing plans to release several new devices to compete with the iPod this year, Samsung has reportedly slashed its flash memory prices in an attempt to convince Apple to switch from hard drive-based storage to flash memory in the 4GB iPod mini.
Market research firm iSuppi claims that Apple plans to buy as much as 40 percent of Samsung’s NAND flash output in the second half of this year. iSuppli memory analyst Nam Hyung Kim said in a research report that Samsung offered Apple extremely low prices on its NAND flash parts.
“The report said iSuppli believes that Samsung has offered to match prices from the HDD suppliers, even though current microdrive prices are about half the cost of the equivalent flash density,” the EE Times reports. “Samsung would still reap profits, even at aggressive pricing levels, Kim said, adding that ‘sewing up the marquee iPod memory business is well worth the reduction in margins’ for Samsung.”
As expected, Hewlett-Packard announced today that it has added the iPod mini to its line of HP-branded iPods. As with the company’s 4G and photo iPods it sells, the “Apple iPod mini from HP” appears to be identical to Apple’s except for packaging and warranty details. The HP iPod mini will come in both 4GB and 6GB versions and will go on sale June 5. It’s not clear whether it will be available in all four colors.
HP also introduced HP Printable Tattoos for the iPod mini, which allow consumers to personalize the device with artwork, designs and photography. “During the next six months, HP will roll out more than 300 new images, including album art from the hottest bands and recording artists, as well as unique artwork,” the company said. “The new Tattoo gallery features sports, nature, lifestyle and art sections in addition to many other categories.”
Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg says that yesterday’s drop in price of the 4GB iPod mini is unwelcome news for Apple rivals looking to take a bite of the device’s market share. “What’s most important about the new announcements are the fact that Apple has lowered the mini to a $199 price point while preserving the magic thousand song storage mark,” Gartenberg says. “This is pretty bad news for the competition that was looking for ways to go after the mini. At this point, with a $50 price difference at most of the line (and $100 on the highest SKU) Apple now has the most complete product line at effective price bands to allow consumers join the iPod experience while not creating overlapping products. This is a good tactical move and will once again force their competitors to respond.”
iLounge is proud to present the new iPod mini 6GB (“1500 songs”) box opening photo gallery, with shots depicting Apple’s new packaging and the very modest cosmetic changes to the rear of the new hardware. Though it may not be fully apparent in the photography, the iPod mini’s new silver packaging uses predominantly metallic ink to represent the color of the iPod inside; blue, green, and pink boxes are also prominently colored with their own identifying tones.
Amusingly, Apple’s external list of disclosures and disclaimers includes the following line regarding the color of the mini’s anodized aluminum casing: “Like a fine pair of jeans, iPod mini colors may vary and may change over time.” The line is apparently a reference to earlier reports of color variations in 4GB iPod minis, particularly in the “pink” units, and the casing’s potential for gradual lightening when exposed to bright light.
What’s changed on the new iPod minis’ backs? They now feature 4GB or 6GB markings, and additional electrical and interference certification seals that did not appear on iPod minis released early last year. Spacing of the Apple and iPod logos has shifted a tiny bit, and the “small print” text at the case’s bottom regrettably no longer uses easy-to-read bold text for the mini’s serial number. On the front Click Wheel, the icons are now indicated in the same colors as the mini’s casing.
Click “Read more” for preview shots, or view the iPod mini 6GB gallery.
Apple today introduced the second-generation iPod mini lineup, reducing the price of its first-generation 4GB model to $199, while introducing a new 6GB model priced at $249. Both iPod mini models feature increased battery life of up to 18 hours, and retain the same black-and-white screen found in the initial model.
The 4GB and 6GB models of iPod mini for Mac or Windows are available worldwide immediately in a choice of silver, pink, blue or green. Each of the three latter colors is an updated, stronger shade of the previous iPod mini color, while gold - a color long tipped to be relatively unpopular - has quietly been discontinued.
Apple has also apparently dropped both FireWire cables ($19) and FireWire Power Adapters ($29) from the iPod mini boxes, and now includes only a single USB 2.0 cable - presumably for computer-aided recharging. The company now separately sells a USB Power Adapter ($29), recently reviewed on iLounge, for wall power charging.
Simultaneous with the release of the new iPod mini, Apple has also announced five new colors of its neoprene exercise Armband - orange, yellow, blue, pink, and grey - in addition to its previous black version. Each is priced at $29, and is an “Apple Store Exclusive.” A single iPod mini lanyard ($19) has also been introduced, and attaches to the mini’s Dock Connector. It is expected to ship in 5-7 weeks, according to Apple.
CNET News.com is reporting that select Wal-Mart stores have begun selling Apple’s iPod mini. Wal-Mart is selling the device in a “limited number of stores,” a representative for the discount chain said Monday.
Apple’s iPod is currently being sold at a large number of retailers, including CompUSA, Target, Best Buy, and Circuit City. Thanks to the company’s partnership with Hewlett-Packard, the HP-branded iPod is offered in chains such as Office Depot, Radio Shack, and Staples.
Hitachi’s 1-inch Microdrive hard-disk drive, which is currently used in Apple’s iPod mini, will at least double in capacity before the end of 2005. “At present Hitachi’s most capacious Microdrive can hold 4GB of data, but the new drives, due in the second half of this year, will be able to hold between 8GB and 10GB, said Bill Healy, senior vice president of product strategy and marketing at HGST. In addition to offering more storage space, the drives will also occupy about 20 percent less volume than current models, said Healy. One of the biggest space savings will come from replacing the Compact Flash interface with a ZIF (zero insertion force) connector of the type favored by consumer electronics makers.”
Apple has quietly changed the design of the iPod mini packaging by reducing the size of the original square box by about one third. The new package is shorter from front to back, but remains the same height as the old. The package retains its clam shell design, folding open into two halves. The iPod mini is now on the left while the accessories are on the right. There are no longer any front flaps or instruction manual/CD package obscuring the view of the mini or accessories after opening the two halves. In order to unpack the contents in the new package, you must open the flaps on top of each half, which are marked by icons indicating their contents (headphones, cables, and so on).
“The iPod mini, a digital music player by Apple Computer Inc of the United States, has proved extremely popular since hitting the Japanese market a month ago.
People interested in owning the credit card-size gadget are waiting an average of four to six weeks for it to be delivered to them.”
“Music lovers and high-tech geeks yesterday sweated in the scorching sun to snap up their long-awaited iPod minis as Apple Computer Inc offered the first of the tiny music players available in this country—all 100 of them.
“All 100 units sold out in half an hour,” an Apple Taiwan public relations official said yesterday. “We are planning to ship more to Tai-wan, hopefully as soon as possible.”“
“Apple Computer Inc. announced the domestic release of its portable music player, the iPod mini, in Seoul yesterday, hoping its latest product will overcome the disappointing market performances of earlier models.
‘We believe iPod mini could become a huge success in Korea and other places such as China or Taiwan where flash-memory music players still dominate the market,’ said Yeo Eng Yiong, Apple’s portable devices product marketing manager for Asia-Pacific.
‘The main reason that iPod models didn’t catch on with Korean consumers in the past was the high prices for the products. However, iPod mini now comes at a very affordable price and we believe it will have a great success in Korea considering its huge advantage in storage capacity,’ he added.”
“Thousands of people lined up outside electronics stores in Japan on Saturday as Apple Computer launched sales of its iPod Mini digital music player.
About 1,500 people were lined up outside Apple’s store in Tokyo’s Ginza district before the store opened at 10 a.m. Tens of thousands of the devices have already reportedly been reserved by customers.”
“Over a thousand (1,325) readers voted when we asked: “Which iPod mini colour would you choose?”, and silver stole a stunning 46 per cent (535 people) of that free vote. Amazon in the US reveals the silver iPod mini to be its fourth biggest-selling electronic gadget there - that colour leads the pack. [...]
Second most popular in Apple’s iPod mini five-pack offering of musical delight is blue, which took 26 per cent of votes cast, 308 votes in all. An Old Wives Tale exists that claims the colour blue protects boys from the evil eye. Blue is the third most-popular colour on Amazon US. [...]
Though its the second biggest-selling coloured iPod mini in the US on Amazon, Pink took just 107 Macworld Online votes, that’s 9 per cent of all those cast.”
With an expected delivery/on-sale date of July 24, 2004, Apple has announced that it is now taking iPod mini pre-orders from customers across the world. Prices for the iPod mini differ by territory, and are as follows (including tax):
Continental Europe: 279 Euros (259-269 in certain countries, inc. Germany and Austria)
United Kingdom: 179 Pounds.
Japan: 28,140 Yen (26,800 Yen pre-tax).
Canada: C$349 including the $15 Blank Media Levy, but excluding VAT.
Singapore: S$458 (excluding rebates).
Hong Kong: HK$1,900.
Of special interest: At current exchange rates, the pre-tax Japanese and non-tax Hong Kong prices for the iPod mini are actually slightly lower than the current American retail price, whereas other territories are receiving the mini at a slight premium. iPod mini ordering options and prices for mainland China, India, Latin America, Mexico and South Korea were not yet available.
Each iPod mini will include headphones, a power adapter, a belt clip, FireWire and USB 2.0 cables, and iTunes 4.6 for Mac and Windows. The same five colors (silver, blue, green, pink, and gold) previously introduced will be available internationally.
In a related story, Apple has announced the combined sale of over 1.5 million songs through its European iTunes Music Stores (U.K., France and Germany) since its launch on June 15, 2004. The rate of sales is slightly lower than the initial launch of the iTMS for United States-based Macintosh customers in April of 2003, following which two million songs had been sold by the 16th day of operations. Canadian, Latin American and Asia-Pacific region launches of the iTunes Music Store have not yet been announced.