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Portable Media Expo & Podcast Conference Roundup [updated]

Several iPod accessory makers and digital audio companies made announcements and revealed new products today at the Podcasting & Portable Media Expo in Ontario, California. iLounge is at the event and has rounded up all of the show news below. We’ll be updating this story as other announcements are made.

Griffin Technology
Griffin Technology announced that its new iTrip FM transmitter is now shipping. The new iTrip, which connects through the dock connector port and features a backlit LCD screen, works with all dockable iPods—3G/4G/5G iPods, iPod mini and iPod nano. It sells for $50. The company also showed off its RoadTrip all-in-one car solution in a charcoal color and delivered its iVault for the iPod shuffle in three new colors—green, blue and purple.

Speck Products
Speck announced at the show that it is now shipping its new ToughSkin for the 5G iPod. The rugged rubberized skin sells for $35 and has a screen protector and a detachable belt clip. The company is also shipping its See-Thru cases for the iPod nano. The tinted hard cases come in 3-packs of various colors for $30. Speck was also showing prototypes of its Cloud FunSkin and See-Thru cases for the 5G iPod.

Tunewear
Tunwear today announced the Tetran earbud cable winder. The spiked creature lets you wrap your earbud cords around its to reduce cable mess. It comes in pink, green, yellow, and orange for $13. The company also showed off its recently announced Icewear for the iPod nano and its leather Ambassador case for the 5G iPod.

Power Support
Power Support used the event to introduce its Crystal Film Cover Set for the 5G iPod. The 3-piece set covers the front, back and click wheel to protect the new iPod from dirt and scratches. The adhesive side is made of a newly developed, static cling polymer plastic for easy installation and removal. The company also has on hand its Kimono 2 case in new colors for the 4G iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle, and a new car cupholder for the iPod nano and 5G iPod.

Audible
Audible today announced AudibleWordcast, “a pioneering set of Web-based tools that enables podcasters to build multiple revenue streams around capabilities such as advertising management, dynamic ad-insertion, underwriting and secured transactions.” The company said: “For the first time, podcasters will be able to manage, accurately measure, and monetize their audio content without significant infrastructure investments, allowing them to focus their resources and energy on creating superior audio programming.”

Belkin
Belkin is showing off its Auto Kit in black. The $40 product lets you charge your iPod in the car and provides an adjustable amplifier and 3.5mm audio-out jack for use with a cassette adapter or FM transmitter. The company also debuted an XM Satellite Radio Boombox.

BlueTake
BlueTake used the event to introduce the iPhono mini, an updated version of its Bluetooth iPod headset. The product uses a top-mounted receiver that requires a 3G/4G iPod or iPod mini. The iPhono mini features a less rigid earphone system with a loose cable instead of hard plastic neck piece.

Otterbox
While the company did not have any on hand, Otterbox provided shipping dates for its upcoming waterproof iPod cases. The company said it will be shipping its Otterbox for iPod nano in December and the Otterbox for 5G iPod in February.

Battery Technology Incorporated
Battery Technology Incorporated (BTI) told iLounge it is updating its powerful iPod Battery ii to turn it into a combination stand/add-on battery unit. Targeted at 5G iPod users, the product adds 40-50 hours of additional playback time to full-size iPods.

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Analyst sees terabyte iPod in Apple’s future

Apple could possibly create an iPod with 1 terabyte of storage, as well as a true “iPhone” says one analyst. “A terabyte iPod might sound crazy today, but we believe in five years a terabyte iPod will emerge as a portable home media center,” says Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster in an research report obtained by iLounge. “We continue to believe that Apple will enter the mobile phone market. We would not expect an ‘iPhone’ to be launched for at least 12-18 months.”

The report also discusses possible future plans for iTunes and the Mac mini. “The key to iTunes in the next 12-24 months will be gaining access to more video content… Apple will work with networks, film studios, and other content providers to coerce them into offering more content via iTunes,” continues Munster. “Expect Mac to become a hub for consumer digital media as Front Row technology gets incorporated into the Mac Mini.” The report also mentions a possible AirPort Express for video to stream video from iTunes to TV.

SylviusVG neuroanatomy glossary now on iPods

Members of the the Sylvius project have released an iPod edition of their human neuroanatomy glossary, which is currently in use at Duke University. SylviusVG, iPod Edition is a “visual glossary of the human brain and spinal cord, combining audio (MP3 files), visual (album art) and text (notes) content into a pedagogically-sound learning tool for the iPod, containing over neuroanatomical 400 structures and terms.” SylviusVG, iPod Edition is available for any color screen iPod at an introductory price of $10.

RadioShack becomes authorized iPod reseller

RadioShack today announced that it has become an authorized Apple reseller and now offers all iPod models in its more than 5,000 stores across the U.S. The consumer electronics retailer, which had previously sold HP-branded iPods, will also continue to offer a large range of iPod accessories.

“iPod owners already know RadioShack as the place to go for add-on accessories to enhance their overall experience and enjoyment of these great digital devices while at home, work or on the run,” said Jim Hamilton, RadioShack’s senior vice president, chief merchandising officer. “Now, this new robust assortment allows us to be a complete turn-key destination for iPod players and accessories alike.”

Apple offers King Kong trailer in iPod format

imageApple has released the first official movie trailer formatted for the fifth-generation iPod. Several iLoungers note that Apple is now offering the theatrical trailer for Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” in iPod video format alongside small, medium, full-screen, and high definition versions. The free video weighs in at 12.2 MB. “King Kong” hits theaters on December 14th.


ZoomAndGo.com offers iPod-compatible travel videos

ZoomAndGo.com, a website featuring traveler videos and in-depth hotel reviews, has announced that it is now offering its entire library of video clips for fifth-generation iPods.

“Current clips range from on-camera hotel reviews and insider advice about tourist attractions to tips from travelers on-camera about the best hotel beds and finding bargains overseas,” explains the company. “Zoom And Go will have video for most major destinations and hotels by the end of this year. Users can download Zoom And Go videos onto their iPods by clicking on the Download to iPod link beside each clip.”

Analyst: 5G iPod sales ‘ahead of expectations’

Sales of Apple’s video-enabled fifth-generation iPod are stronger than expected, according to one Wall Street analyst. “In our recent proprietary checks with industry and channel sources, we believe sales of 5G iPods are coming in ahead of expectations,” American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note provided to iLounge. “In some cases, in Apple’s own channels, including its physical stores and online store, we believe 5G iPods are surprisingly outselling even the very popular iPod nano.”

Wu said he believes that buyers of the new iPod are “mostly installed base users attracted to its high storage capacity, video capability, and reasonable price points,” while more mainstream customers are purchasing nanos. “We do not believe this trend is true through all distribution channels, particularly retail including Amazon.com, Best Buy, and CompUSA, where iPod nano remains the best seller,” he said.

Analyst: Apple could ship over 37 million iPods in 2005

Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster expects Apple to ship approximately 37 million iPods in 2005. “We expect the iPod to continue to be a foundation for growth in other parts of Apple’s business, and we expect that by the end of CY05 more than 37 million iPods will have shipped, providing Apple with a greater scope of awareness for various products (halo effect),” Munster said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “It appears that this phenomenon has begun to take effect, with a record 1.23 million Macs shipped in the September quarter.”

Munster also notes that iPod models are still dominating Amazon Top Seller Lists. “We believe that the iPod is continuing to gain traction in the December quarter as evidenced by the number of iPods included on the Amazon Top Seller List for portable MP3 players and All Electronics,” he said. “The number of iPods in the Top 10 increased by one, from 7 to 8 since our last update on October 21. Apple has 2 products in the Top 10 Sellers List of All Electronics and 4 in the Top 20.”

Pod CityGuides put travel info on your iPod

Wcities, a leading provider of travel and destination content, has released its first Pod CityGuides. The travel guides are downloaded and transferred to your iPod, providing you with details “for the coolest clubs, hippest hotels, trendiest restaurants, top attractions, and hottest events in more than 300 cities around the globe,” according to the company.
 
“With the handy Pod CityGuide you can customize your travel itinerary with the same ease and convenience that you program your iPod,” says Wcities. “When you use the Pod CityGuide, you can forget your calendar because the personal event guide keeps you up to date with the coolest events including concerts, sports, theater, festivals and museums, in cities across the USA and around the world.”

5G iPod supply limited by component constraints?

Following Apple’s announcement yesterday that more than 1 million videos have been downloaded from iTunes, BusinessWeek reports that demand for the video-enabled fifth-generation iPod may be outstripping supply.

“Apple hasn’t yet said how many of the new players it has sold since the units started shipping Oct. 17, but clues are mounting that there simply aren’t enough around,” says BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl. “It’s taking Apple between five and seven business days to fill online orders for the video iPod, according to the company’s Web site.”

Component constraints are reportedly to blame for shipping delays with the 5G iPod and iPod nano. iSuppli analyst Vinita Jakhanwal says that the component is probably a light-emitting diode backlight used to brighten the iPod’s screen. “They’re going into iPods, but they’re also going into cell phones,” Jakhanwal says. “The lead times for these backlights has gotten longer in recent weeks.”

Autobytel’s CarTV offers iPod-formated videos

Autobytel’s CarTV has converted several of its automotive videos to play on the new video-enabled fifth-generation iPod. The downloadable video content includes “expert third-party new vehicle reviews, step-by-step car maintenance tips, and a weekly automotive news program covering late-breaking industry announcements, trends and issues.” CarTV will also provide daily coverage of next week’s SEMA show in iPod video format. The company said new videos will be added each week.

Apple relaxes return policy on 5G iPod, reason unclear

Following a series of complaints from consumers regarding the company’s policy on iPod nano returns, Apple appears to not be taking any chances with the new fifth-generation (video) iPod when it comes to customer satisfaction. According to a report published by AppleInsider, the company recently told Apple authorized service providers to replace new iPods that exhibit “any type of hardware failure,” including “those that would normally be classified as abuse.” For a short period of time, Apple will be “evaluating all forms of hardware failure on the recently announced fifth-generation iPod,” the company reportedly said, and will take back any fifth-generation iPod reported to have a problem. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two iLounge editors and a number of readers have reported data synchronization problems with their new iPod units, which appear to be hardware related. Problem units fail to fully transfer music libraries from a host computer, halting 500-2000 songs into the process. When replaced with new units, no synchronization problems were evident.

iPREPpress offers SparkNotes study guides for iPods

iPREPpress and SparkNotes have released 11 study guides for classic American and British literature that can be downloaded and read on your iPod. The iPod study guides offer the same content as the best-selling SparkNotes study guides including “context, plot overview, summary and analysis, theme, motives, key facts and quizzes, and audio hyperlinks to context, audio plot overview and audio analysis of major characters.”

Available study guides for the iPod include: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Odyssey, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo & Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, and A Tale of Two Cities. The SparkNotes guides, which sell for $4.95 each, work with 3G/4G/5G iPods, iPod minis and iPod nanos.

Microsoft VP: We’re ready to work with Apple on Xbox 360

In an in-depth interview with IGN, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and XNA Chief Architect J Allard said that he hopes to work more closely with competing companies such as Apple when it comes to making their devices compatible with the Xbox 360.

“I’m pro consumer on this one to the end,” says Allard. “Anybody in my company who thought this was a bad idea to plug in Sony or Apple devices into this thing, I ended that conversation pretty quickly. This is the right thing to do for consumers. Once they invest $500 in their digital media library, you can’t ask them to go buy a 360 music player and a 360 digital camera, and a 360…NO! They got their stuff. They’re going to want to plug it in. We’re going to be open here, guys. And if anything, I wish we could be more cooperative with the other companies that are doing those things. And if Sony or Apple were to call me up and say, ‘Hey, we want to some special things with the 360,’ I’m on it. I think it would not be in anybody’s interest to say, we’re not going to work with 360. It’s good for them, it’s good for us, and it’s good for consumers.”

iPod owners among internet’s ‘most prolific influencers’

A recent consumer study by analytics firm Intelliseek found that iPod owners are significantly more likely to create and spread consumer-generated media on the web.

According to Intelliseek’s study: “iPod users are twice as likely to have authored a blog than consumers who do not own MP3 players, and they outpace other MP3 owners on creating and posting content online. iPod users are also 2.5 times as likely to exchange text messages on cellular phones (59% vs. 24% of non-owners), three times as likely to take photos with a camera phone (45% vs. 15%), and three times as likely to download video clips and movies to a personal computer (47% versus 16%). The representative study of 660 online consumers was conducted in August, 2005.”

The consumer behavior study also finds that “iPod users are product innovators, significantly more likely to own digital video recorders, personal digital assistants, digital cameras, laptop computers and cell phones than non-iPod owners. They tend to link to the Internet via broadband and wireless connections, and are more likely than others to skip past or filter advertisements, especially online, a behavior that may be linked as much to high usability/interface expectations as it is to a dislike of advertising.”

Central Park Media offers anime video for new iPod

Central Park Media has announced that it is now providing anime content for the new video-capable fifth-generation iPod.

“Visitors can now download the first episode of Central Park Media’s upcoming Armored Trooper VOTOMS as well as view the trailer for the shockingly horrific Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek, scheduled to premiere on a special pre-Halloween midnight broadcast on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, Saturday, October 29, and Hammerboy, winner of numerous prestigious awards on both sides of the Pacific.”

Central Park Media said it will soon be making available more full episodes and trailers to best-selling CPM anime including Descendants of Darkness, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Shadow Star Narutaru, among hundreds of other titles.

ColorWare to offer 5G iPods in custom colors

imageColorWare plans to offer the new fifth-generation iPod in a rainbow of custom painted colors with a scratch resistant coating. The company says the 5G iPods will be available in 23 standard colors and 460 color combinations with its “scratch resistant X2 coating.” ColorWare will sell the 30GB iPod for $365 and the 60GB model for $465. ColorWare currently sells custom painted iPod nanos and fourth-generation iPods, and also offers a service that lets you send in your iPod to have it colored in the hue of your choice for $64.

New RAM in 5G 60GB iPod doubles memory, improves performance

imageThanks to a report by an iLounge reader, additional details on internal differences between the 30GB and 60GB iPods have been discovered. As initially shown through a diagnostic test of the new iPod, the 60GB model actually contains twice as much SDRAM - 64 Megabytes rather than 32 Megabytes. SDRAM typically serves as a buffer for audio and video clips, and additional memory can reduce the number of times an iPod’s hard drive is accessed, thereby further improving battery life.

imageLike the 32MB component, the 64MB chip is a Samsung part, here labeled K4M51163PC. Previous teardowns of the new iPod have not revealed this difference in components, as they have focused on the less expensive 30GB iPod.

imageIn combination with the 60GB’s new hard drive, which is shown to be a Toshiba MK6008GAH, and the unit’s battery (additional pictures of which are shown at Read More below), the additional memory helps the larger iPod to provide nearly six hours of tested audio run time over the smaller one, over two more hours of photo slideshows, more than one hour of additional on-screen video and over two extra hours of on-TV video. As noted in our comprehensive review, this is the first time that component differences between full-sized iPods have been used to create battery performance distinctions between models.

Report: 30GB iPod costs Apple $151 to build

Market research firm iSuppli has taken apart the new video-enabled fifth-generation iPod and concluded that the 30GB device, which sells for $299, costs Apple $151 to manufacture—a profit margin of around 50%. “This is in line with what we have seen with other iPod products from Apple,” says iSuppli analyst Chris Crotty.

Like a similar report earlier this week, which estimated that the 30GB model cost $143.50 to build, the researcher documents the suppliers of components in the new iPod. iSuppli notes that Broadcom makes the video chip, while PortalPlayer and Wolfson Microelectronics produce the audio chips.

“In this case, the Broadcom chip is just for video and the PortalPlayer chip is just for audio,” Crotty says. “Right now, Apple is keeping the functions separate. Over time, you’ll see more chips that do everything. But now it’s probably more cost effective for Apple to do it with separate chips.”

iPod 5G (video) teardown online (updated)

Investment bank Jeffries & Company has posted an investment summary that includes details about the chips used inside the new iPods, as well as a few pictures. The chips include the PP5021 decoder and CPU “system on a chip” from PortalPlayer, a BCM2722 video decoder/processor from Broadcom, a K4S56163PF 256Mbit SDRAM module from Samsung, a WM8758 audio codec chip from Wolfson Microelectronics, a SST39WF800A 8Mbit Parallel Flash chip from Silicon Storage Technology, and a CY8C21 PSoC Mixed Signal Controller for the click wheel from Cypress. The report indicates that the estimated total cost of components for the new 30GB iPod is $143.50. [via TUAW]

Notably, the hard drive shown and glossed over in the Jeffries & Company report is a Toshiba 30GB MK3008GAL, a super-slim 1.8” hard disk that to date has only been produced in 20GB, 30GB, 40GB and 60GB (MK6008GAH) capacities. Consequently, Apple would need to use the thicker, less power-efficient MK8007GAH drive for an 80GB version of the 5G iPod, or wait for a thinner 80GB version matching the 60GB model to be produced.

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