iLounger Ed Mouy has provided us with photos of an extremely large Apple billboard for the iPod shuffle in Australia. The advertisement is on the Nike store in Melbourne (corner of Bourke and Swanston Street) and is approximately six stories tall. “It’s a really good spot, it’s basically the central retail district of Melbourne,” Mr. Mouy told iLounge. “Apple has used the giant billboard a few times for iMac ads and such.”
Click “Read more” for larger photos of the billboard.
A recent survey of 30 Apple retail stores found that iPod shuffle demand is “unprecedented,” and that meaningful supply of the device has only been available at most stores within the last 10 days. The average iPod shuffle supply per Apple Store is currently 30 to 50 units, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said today in a research note provided to iLounge. “Apple is selling every shuffle it can produce,” he said. “We believe this demand will carry forward into the June quarter and beyond.”
In addition, Munster said that iPod shuffle demand is also “very strong” at Apple specialist resellers. After speaking with 20 of the resellers, he said that they were (unsurprisingly) having a hard time getting enough of the devices from Apple. “While the resellers had many complaints about their inability to receive sufficient supply of iPod shuffles from Apple, they also indicated, on average, that they expect the quarter to be at or above plan,” he said.
Speck Products is now shipping its SkinTight iPod shuffle skin. Made of form-fitting Kraton polymer, the case “provides protection without adding bulk,” and features a two-piece design for easier synching/charging. The SkinTight is available immediately in clear, black and pink for $19.95. Speck said that red, blue, and green would ship on March 30.
Wired’s Cyrus Farivar has written an article about a New York library that is loaning out iPod shuffles loaded with audio books. “Checking out a new iPod now applies to more than shopping trips or web browsing,” writes Farivar. “This week the South Huntington Public Library on Long Island, New York, became one of the first public libraries in the country to loan out iPod shuffles. For the past three weeks, the library ran a pilot program using the portable MP3 devices to store audio books downloaded from the Apple iTunes Music Store. They started with six shuffles, and now are up to a total of 10. Each device holds a single audio book.”
Pacific Rim Technologies today announced Gel Shield, a new silicone case for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The Gel Shield case will be available in a choice of five colors—lime, charcoal, pink, blue and white—and come with a cap protector. Pacific Rim’s Gel Shield for iPod shuffle will begin shipping on Tuesday, March 8, and will be available in a choice of 3-packs for $24.99 or as a single for $10.99.
The ShuffleClip is a new accessory for your iPod shuffle that allows you to clip the device virtually anywhere. “Formed from a single piece of transparent PETG polymer, the ShuffleClip compliments the design of your iPod while keeping it safe and secure,” says the company behind the add-on. “PETG is an extremely strong, yet flexible material that in many ways behaves more like aluminum than plastic. And unlike products made from other materials, the ShuffleClip will never scratch your iPod.” The ShuffleClip sells for $14.95.
Following our report last week on XtremeMac’s extensive new collection of iPod shuffle accessories, the company has now added the products to its online store, showing for the first time what the products will look like. The new accessories are now available for pre-order and are expected to ship next month. They include: AirPlay FM Transmitter for iPod shuffle ($49.95); Car Charger for iPod shuffle ($24.95); Bumperz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/5-pack); SportWrap for iPod shuffle ($29.95); Shieldz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/3-pack); Wrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack); TuffWrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack); SuperHook for iPod shuffle ($19.95); SuperClip for iPod shuffle ($14.95); Audio Splitter for iPod shuffle ($12.95); and Audio Kit for iPod shuffle ($49.95).
Noting that demand for the iPod shuffle “is significantly stronger than we anticipated,” Banc of America today raised sales estimates for the low-cost music player. The firm raised the unit sales estimate for the iPod shuffle to 1.2 million units for the current quarter ending in March from 700,000, although “our sense is actual results could be higher.” 2005 estimates have been raised from 4.4 million to 5 million units. Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said earlier this week that he expects Apple to ship 1 million iPod shuffles.
XtremeMac tomorrow will announce 13 new iPod shuffle accessory lines—a total of 24 new products. All of the XtremeMac iPod shuffle accessories are now available for pre-order and are expected to ship next month.
The accessories include (photos not yet available):
AirPlay FM Transmitter for iPod shuffle ($49.95) is the first FM Transmitter for the device, and allows users to play audio wirelessly from their shuffle through any FM radio.
Car Charger for iPod shuffle ($24.95) provides users the ability to charge their shuffle while in their car.
Bumperz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/5-pack) provide protection with a silicone band of stylish color for the device with 15 vibrant colors.
SportWrap for iPod shuffle ($29.95) is a moisture resistant, sports armband for active shuffle users in four sporty colors.
Shieldz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/3-pack) provide protection with a splash of stylish color in nine new shades of transparent plastic.
Wrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack) are thin silicone sleeves that provide form-fitted protection from minor scratches and dents with nine new colors.
TuffWrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack) are thickened silicone sleeves that provide protection against scratches and bumps with nine new colors.
SuperHook for iPod shuffle ($19.95) features an aluminum carabiner and lets you hook your shuffle to “almost anything including backpack straps, belt loops, keychains, purse straps and more.”
SuperClip for iPod shuffle ($14.95) is a white plastic clip that lets you attach the device to almost any strap or belt.
Audio Splitter for iPod shuffle ($12.95) allows two people to share music from one shuffle simultaneously.
Audio Kit for iPod shuffle ($49.95) connects your iPod shuffle to your car stereo, home stereo system, cassette deck, computer speakers and more.
Analysts at IDC estimate that Apple makes a 35 to 40 percent profit margin on each iPod shuffle the company sells, and stands to make even more from expected drops in flash memory pricing. IDC said the iPod shuffle’s flash memory, made by Samsung, is the most expensive component used in the device. IdaRose Sylvester, a senior semiconductor research analyst at IDC, estimates that the 512MB chip in the $99 shuffle costs Apple around $37.50 for each player—about two thirds of the estimated $59 that the company spends on total materials needed to make each 512MB shuffle.
“Apple is making very, very good margins on the shuffle,” Sylvester says. “We based our cost analysis on fourth quarter production prices, which would have been when they sourced [the components]. At some point they’ll switch to cheaper flash and the margins will improve.”
Marware has provided iLounge with an exclusive first look at the company’s forthcoming new iPod shuffle case. The silicone case, tentatively named “Sport Grip for iPod shuffle,” turns Apple’s new compact music player into a keychain. Marware’s Ed Martin told iLounge that the company is hoping to also include a carabiner and a lanyard with the case. The Sport Grip will be available in a rainbow of colors in either a 3-pack or 5-pack, according to Martin. Pricing was not disclosed.
Click “Read more” for photos of the Sport Grip prototype. And visit iLounge Backstage for a look at a Sport Grip/SportRope combo.
Toshiba corporate vice president Masashi Muromachi said Monday that his company is having trouble producing enough flash memory chips for Apple’s iPod. “When it comes to the supply-demand balance we are currently unable to satisfy all customer demands,” Muromachi said, noting in particular the launch of the iPod shuffle. “Demand created by this new device is so vast that our current capacity can in no way meet [Apple’s] needs,” he said.
Muromachi said Toshiba plans to boost spending on semiconductors by 13 percent this year in an effort to expand output of flash chips. He also said the company would move forward the production schedule at a new flash memory plant owned jointly with SanDisk.
DecalGirl.com is offering a slew of removable vinyl decals for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The 6-piece kits (front, rear, lanyard) are priced at $2.99 and come in a variety of designs—from “Firestarter to “Shufflemint.”
“Give your new iPod shuffle a new look in seconds and protect it from abuse at the same time. Check out this ready-to-apply iPod shuffle full-color skin with an ultra-high resolution full-color design printed on premium grade adhesive-backed vinyl. The skin is then covered with a clear protectant layer for the ultimate in durability. Remember—all of our full-color skins use a patented repositionable/removable/reusable adhesive backing for fast, easy and accurate installation and goo-free removal.”
Jewelry designer Richard Forbes has announced the SportRope, a replacement rubber cord for the Apple lanyard that is provided with the iPod shuffle. The $9.99 SportRope is made of 3mm rubber and attaches with a sterling bayonet clasp. The SportRope comes in 36 or 40-inch lengths and is available in Pink, Turquoise, Cobalt, Cherry Red, Lime Green, Tangerine, Clear and Black.
“The need and benefit of the SportRope is that it allows Shuffle owners to personalize their Shuffle with color and flair,” explains Forbes. “In addition, SportRope also provides resistance to the grit and grime that the original nylon lanyard will show with time. SportRope is easily cleanable, where as the original lanyard may be susceptible to becoming unglued during repeated cleanings.”
Bruddy Designs today announced the ShuffleMate for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The all-in-one accessory combines the functionality of a case with clips and wire management. The plastic ShuffleMate fits both shuffle models, has a wrap-around base to reduce excess wire, and features a built-in belt clip. The accessory also comes with an industry standard “bull-dog” clip that can be attached to any side of the ShuffleMate via mounting slots. Bruddy said the ShuffleMate is currently in production and will be available in mid-March. It can be pre-ordered now for $16.95.
iLounger “Helixipod” has built an outstanding hard shell case for his iPod shuffle. The machined aluminum case does away with the idea of using an end cap and is one of the best iPod protectors we’ve seen come from an individual—and the first third-party hard case for the iPod shuffle. He said it was made on a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling machine and allows access to all ports, controls, and LEDs.
“I’ve had my iPod shuffle for a couple weeks now and I’ve been carrying it around with me in my pocket. I love it and use it more than my fourth-generation 40GB. I couldn’t find any shuffle hard cases available yet, but I wanted to protect it so I just made my own,” Helixipod writes in the iLounge forums.
“The front and back half of the case are joined together by 4 very small screws. I have no need to take it out of the case anymore,” he explains. “The headphones come in from the top, USB from the bottom, and there is also a window on the back for the on/off/shuffle slider and battery button. It is lined on the front, back, top, bottom, and sides with black velvet.”
Helixipod said his aluminum case adds 20 grams to the iPod shuffle, bringing the total weight to 42 grams—just under 1.48 ounces. The design does, however, require a female USB cord to charge/sync the device.
Click “Read more” for four large images of the case.
iLounge has confirmed that Apple’s iPod shuffle Dock is now available in very limited quantities in select Apple retail stores across the U.S. According to Apple, the iPod shuffle Dock serves as “an elegant and convenient home base for syncing and charging” the low-cost music player. It’s also a much-needed accessory for those without an accessible USB port (see iLounge’s report on issues encountered by eMac and iMac G3 users). Click on Read More for our exclusive photos.
Alongside the iPod shuffle at Macworld Expo last month, Apple introduced several optional accessories, including the Dock, an armband, a sport case, a USB power adapter, and a 12-hour battery pack that holds two AAA batteries. At the time, Apple said they would be available “over the next few weeks” for $29 each.
The online Apple Store is currently quoting that all of the accessories will ship in 5-7 weeks - except for the USB power adapter, which is available immediately via the online store.
In a survey of the 98 Apple retail stores across the U.S., Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said he was unable to find any iPod shuffle units available for purchase. Munster said that most Apple Stores have waiting lists for both the 512MB and 1GB models and that while the lists vary from store to store, the average waiting list is 120 customers long. The analyst also noted scarcity of Apple’s low-cost Mac mini.
“The majority of stores have no idea when they will receive product,” Munster wrote in a research note to clients obtained by iLounge. “Those stores that do have an indication of when they will receive product suggested that limited quantities of the Mac mini and iPod shuffle will be in stock within 2 weeks. Lastly, the stores generally expected to have ample supply by the end of February.”
Munster stated that “initial demand for the Mac mini and the iPod shuffle has exceeded what Apple had been expecting.” The analyst also pointed out that “virtually every Apple Store we spoke to suggested ordering the Mac mini and iPod shuffle online instead of adding our name to the waiting list.”
Best Buy will soon begin selling Apple’s 512MB iPod shuffle in its 660 stores nationwide, according to the consumer electronic retailer’s online store. Best Buy brick-and-mortar stores apparently will not carry the 1GB iPod shuffle. However, both will be available on its online store. In fact, the 1GB model is in stock as of 4:00 p.m. PT. Best Buy stores have sold certain iPod models since 2002. In related news, Best Buy stores will also begin selling Apple’s low-cost Mac mini in the near future.
As part of iLounge’s iPod shuffle x3 Giveaway, we asked readers to provide their opinions of the new Apple music player in the official iPod shuffle opinion thread in iLounge’s new iPod Shuffle general discussion forum. Response has been terrific—iLounge readers have written more than 200 insightful comments about Apple’s new iPod shuffle.
The overwhelming majority praise the iPod shuffle for its price, small size, ease of use, durability, and other factors. Only a small number criticize it—mostly for its lack of screen. Be sure to check out the iPod shuffle opinion thread for all the comments and to leave your own so you’ll be entered for a chance to win an iPod shuffle for yourself.