Apple is buying up large quantities of flash memory for a possible upcoming iPod nano launch, according to a DigiTimes report. “Following recent signs of recovery for the price of NAND flash, industry sources are confident that the industry should break out of its low point as Apple is booking considerable capacity at chip makers,” the publication reports. “Apple is likely to debut a new version of its iPod with a larger memory capacity, probably with 8GB of NAND flash, according to industry sources. Industry sources hinted that both leading Korea-based chipmakers, including Samsung and Hynix have both landed more orders from Apple.”
The lead plaintiff in the iPod nano scratch class action lawsuit claims that he never wanted to be a part of the case. In a public letter, Jason Tomczak explains that he was greatly mislead and abused by the law firm of David P. Meyer & Associates Co. “At no time did David P. Meyer & Associates or Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro ever receive any attorney-client agreement form from me,” Tomczak says. “On their own time and based on their own schedules and plans, they prepared the paperwork and filed the iPod Nano Class Action suit in California using my name as Lead Plaintiff, however this was done without my knowledge or consent… Whether I am successful or I am financially crippled by David P. Meyer & Associates’ and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro’s defense firms, it is my sole intent to communicate the truth of what happened so that I can begin to find some peace of mind after the hate, harassment and embarrassment brought about by the misuse of my name in the iPod Nano suit.” Tomczak’s detailed story has much more.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that the next version of the iPod nano will gain more storage capacity and basic video playback features. “We continue to believe that the iPod nano is in need of a refresh with either an increase in storage capacities and/or price cuts to regenerate interest,” Wu said in a research note to clients. “Our most recent checks indicate that the current 2GB and 4GB models will see their storage doubled to 4GB and 8GB capacities. We are also picking up that basic video playback capability will likely be added to further differentiate against competitors. We anticipate these new nanos will become available in the September quarter and become top sellers, particularly if Apple keeps its price points low at $199 and $249.”
Pope Benedict XVI was given an iPod nano today by a group of Vatican Radio employees. In honor of the pope’s first visit to the radio’s broadcasting headquarters, he was presented with a 2GB white nano pre-loaded with special Vatican Radio programming and classical music. It was engraved with the words “To His Holiness, Benedict XVI” in Italian.
“The pope’s new 2GB digital audio player already was loaded with a sampling of the radio’s programming in English, Italian and German and musical compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky,” reports the Catholic News Service. “The iPod also contains an English-language radio drama on the life of St. Thomas a Becket and a 10-minute feature on the creation of Vatican Radio, with original sound clips of the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, and Vatican Radio’s founder, Pope Pius XI.”
A consumer watchdog group said today that it has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming the iPod nano does not hold up to normal usage and that the company is refusing to offer refunds for the “defective” device.
“Apple Computer’s iPod nano music player, marketed for its sleek beauty, cannot withstand normal use without becoming severely scratched, often to the point where its screen is unreadable,” the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said in its announcement of the suit. “Moreover, Apple is refusing to give refunds to purchasers who bought the defective product, while forcing others to pay a $25 fee to get a replacement that is supposed to be ‘free’ under Apple’s warranty.”
“The suit, brought against Apple under the state’s consumer protection laws on behalf of California purchasers of the recently-introduced nano, demands that Apple recall and repair the defect, without charge, or refund the purchase price to dissatisfied customers,” FTCR said.
Apple today introduced a new 1GB iPod nano that offers the same features and form factor as the current 2GB and 4GB models for $149. The new lower-capacity nano, which was predicted by analysts, holds up to 240 songs or 15,000 photos. It is available immediately.
Apple also cut iPod shuffle prices by $30. The 512MB model now sells for $69 and the 1GB shuffle is now priced at $99.
“Now everyone can afford an iPod nano, with our new 1GB model starting at just $149,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing. “The iPod is the world’s most popular digital music player with over 40 million sold, and now even more music lovers can experience the unrivaled combination of iPod and iTunes.”
[Note: iLounge’s comprehensive iPod nano review now includes new photos and details on the differences between the 1GB nano and its 2GB/4GB predecessors.]
A Baton Rouge, Louisiana woman has filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple over the iPod nano’s proneness to scratching. Plaintiffs have now filed a total of six similar iPod nano lawsuits in California, New York and New Jersey.
“Apple marketed the nano—because it’s small and streamlined—to be used in outdoor activities and athletic activities,” said the woman’s lawyer, Philip Bohrer. “But these devices are not designed to withstand even routine use. There’s a flaw in the design that needs to be changed.”
In a memorandum seeking to consolidate all six federal class-action lawsuits and transfer them to the Northern District of California, Apple lawyer Penelope Preovolos said the company “denies that the iPod nano scratches excessively absent user abuse. The iPod nano is an extraordinarily popular and successful product and is free of defects.”
Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the iPod nano are featured in this month’s BusinessWeek “Best of 2005” issue. Jobs was named among the best business leaders of the year, while the nano is listed among the best products of 2005.
In the “Best Leaders” category, the magazine says: “No one in techland had a better year—or a broader impact—than Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs. Apple continued to set tech’s fashion agenda in 2005 with products such as the iPod nano and the video iPod, as well as the Mac mini, Apple’s cheapest computer ever.”
In its list of the best products of 2005, the magazine says: “Welcome to Apple’s take on the flash memory MP3 player: There’s no question it’s an iPod, but it’s impossibly thin—and expensive. The 4-gigabyte model, the world’s first 4GB flash player, holds about 1,000 songs and costs $249; the 2GB version is only $50 cheaper. It has a big color screen for your photographs. And, man, is it thin.”
Altec Lansing is now offering an iPod nano adapter for its line of inMotion portable speaker systems. Owners of the inMotion iM7, iM5, iM3 or iMplus can order their free adapter from the company’s website. The $3 shipping and handling fee is waived through February 28, 2006. We reported last week that Bose is now shipping its own nano adapter for its SoundDock speaker system.
Apple’s 4GB iPod nano, which was widely seen as the best-selling iPod since its introduction, is apparently now being outsold by its lower-capacity sibling. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that Apple is benefiting from better than expected sales of 2GB iPod nanos during the holiday shopping season. The analyst said in a research note today that shoppers are appearing to be swayed by the device’s $199 price tag.
“We believe a surge in demand for 2GB iPod nanos at $199 may surprise most iPod followers,” Wu wrote in the report. “This is because in the first several weeks of iPod nano, 4GB models, particularly black colored ones, were outselling the 2GBs and white 4GB nanos by a wide margin. Since then we believe Apple’s bet on a $199 price point has paid off (like it did with the $199 4GB iPod mini) as it built more of these models (and with better margins versus the $249 4GB nanos) as it appears that holiday shoppers (particularly first-time iPod buyers) are more concerned with the price point as opposed to the storage capacity. Demand for the $249 4GB nanos remains strong but appears to be outpaced by its lower-priced, and lower capacity version.”
French authorities are expected to reduce a copyright levy imposed on flash music players as early as next week. The decision will reduce the tax on a 4GB iPod nano from over €50 (US$59) to about €8. “Last week, the French Commission on Private Copying adopted a proposal to reduce the levy on flash memory devices, aligning it with the levy on hard disk drives,” reports IDG News. “The decision is widely expected to be published Dec. 1 in the Official Journal, where French laws and regulations must appear before they take effect.”
As expected, Apple’s iPod nano was a hot item over the busy holiday shopping weekend. The nano was among the top-selling gadgets at Amazon.com, Best Buy and other large electronics retailers, completely selling out at many locations.
eBay also saw heavy demand for the device. The online auction giant reported that sales of the black 4GB nano were up 95% compared to last week, while sales of the white 4GB nano were up 88%. There was no change with the white 2GB nano, but demand for the black 2GB model was up 161%. eBay also said that sales of iPod accessories were up 29% over the weekend.
In response to widespread complaints about the scratchability of the iPod nano’s clear front surface, Apple has quietly added a protective fabric sleeve to the packages of all iPod nanos. As first noted in the iLounge forums, the slip cases are identical to the ones included with fifth-generation iPods.
Apple last month was hit with a class-action lawsuit for the nano’s susceptibility to scratching. The lawyers representing consumers in the suit filed a similar class-action lawsuit last week on behalf of United Kingdom and Mexico.
Following a similar lawsuit last month, iPod nano owners in the United Kingdom and Mexico have filed a class-action suit against Apple over the nano’s susceptibility to scratches. The consumers of the international suit are being represented by the same two law firms as the U.S. case. The new suit was filed last Friday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
“Apple’s iPod nano has sold in record numbers around the world, just as it did in the US,” said Steve Berman, lead attorney on both cases. “It seems that wherever the nano is sold, problems with the defective design soon follow.” According to Berman, “The far-reaching response also reveals that this is not just a small problem or a bad batch of Nano’s, but a defect in the overall design that should have been rectified prior to the release.”
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the law firm representing plaintiffs in the iPod nano lawsuit against Apple, has sent out a press release announcing its claims. As reported last week, Jason Tomczak and other consumers have filed a class action suit over the iPod nano’s susceptibility to scratches.
Steve Berman, lead attorney in the case, says that Apple chose to ignore a design problem with the nano before it was released and has since downplayed the complaints from owners. “We intend to prove that in an effort to rush the iPod nano to the market, Apple ignored obvious defects in the design and later tried to cover up negative responses received from consumers,” says Berman. “We seek to recover money lost in purchasing this product as well as the $25 fee Apple has chosen to impose on those who have returned their product after it became unusable.”
The press release also attempts to describe the alleged defect with the nano. “Previous versions of the iPod separated the screen and controls from the case and was covered with a thick film of resin. In designing the nano, Apple reconstructed the housing into a seamless front where the screen and controls reside directly under a much less durable film of resin allowing irreparable damage to occur.”
The announcement goes on to say that “Apple knew the nano was defective, but chose to go forward with the release and pass the cost of replacing the defective device on to class members. The suit also claims that instead of admitting to the flaw after widespread complaint, Apple concealed the defect and advised class members to purchase additional equipment to prevent the screen from scratching excessively.”
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Apple over the iPod nano’s tendency to get scratched easily. The complaint was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California in San Jose on behalf of nano owner Jason Tomczak and others who have purchased the device.
The lawsuit alleges that nano screens “scratch excessively during normal usage, rendering the screen on the nanos unreadable, and violating state consumer protection statutes… and causing Plaintiff class members to incur loss of use and monetary damages.
In his Q&A column, Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal discusses the problem of scratches on the iPod nano.
“If I were reviewing the nano today, I would still call it ‘the best combination of beauty and functionality of any music player I’ve tested,’ as I did in my review. But I would include a strong, prominent, warning that it scratches too easily in normal usage,” Mossberg writes. “After just under a month of daily use, my own nano is badly scratched, and looks beat up when viewed at an angle… my recommendation now is that nano owners must buy and use a case for the device.”
According to internet search behavior data from Hitwise, U.S. searches for “ipod nano” increased 133 percent the week ending Sept. 24, versus the week of its introduction (week ending Sept. 10, 2005), and the market share of total internet visits to Apple’s website shot past peak levels during the 2004 holiday shopping season.
“The iPod has consistently been one of the most searched for items on the Internet in the past year,” said Bill Tancer, general manager of worldwide research at Hitwise. “The share of searches on the iPod nano has eclipsed any other iPod product in the past year, suggesting that the consumer love-affair with the iPod has been reinvigorated with this product introduction.”
Following public reports of iPod nano screen flaws, Apple has responded to the complaints and concerns, confirming that the breakage is due to a very small batch of the devices that use defective screens.
“This is a real but minor issue involving a vendor quality problem in a small number of units,” Apple said in a statement, referring to the reports of seemingly unprovoked nano screen breakage. “Our figures show this issue has affected less than 1/10 of 1 percent of the total iPod nano units that we’ve shipped. It is not a design issue.” The company said affected customers should contact Apple to arrange for a free replacement unit.
Apple also addressed complaints that the nano screen gets scratched too easily, noting that it uses the same surface as that found on 4G iPods. “A few vocal customers say the nano is susceptible to scratches. We do not believe this is a real issue,” the company said in the statement. “We make the screens using the same material as we use in the 4G iPod. We suggest concerned customers use one of the iPod nano cases that are coming to market to protect the music player.”
Motorola public relations has put out a statement in regards to a widely-cited report by the IDG News Service that portrayed Motorola CEO Ed Zander as having animosity for Apple’s iPod nano. The company claims that the “Screw the nano” remark was taken out of context and that Zander was simply joking in response to a question that asked why the Motorola ROKR phone only held a maximum of 100 songs.
“Motorola has a great partnership with Apple. Unfortunately Ed Zander’s comments, made at a conference in California on Friday, were taken out of context,” Motorola said in the statement. “During the Q&A session one questioner repeatedly and insistently asked what Zander thought of the Nano. Jokingly, Zander said he wasn’t there to talk about the Nano—but to talk about the next big thing happening in the industry—the fusion of the phone and music. ROKR with iTunes was a good beginning, he said, and there’s more to come.”