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Analyst sees strong iPod demand, expects 14 million units in Q1

Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff helped send Apple shares to an all-time high of $64.22 on Wednesday by writing in a research report that iPod demand shows no signs of letting up. The analyst also noted that Apple appears it will be able to meet increased demand for the new iPod and iPod nano this holiday quarter as evidenced by improved shipping times on the online Apple Store.

“Our channel checks with retailers and component vendors indicate that demand for iPods (both nano and video iPod) continue to remain strong and could be significantly higher than our initial assumption for the holiday season,” Neff wrote. He added that “hot” products have historically seen sequential sales growth of 75 percent to 100 percent during the holiday season. Neff now expects Apple to ship 14.1 million iPods this quarter (Q1 2006), compared with an earlier estimate of 10.4 million.

Video dating site for iPod users launched

PodDater.com is a new video dating service that offers downloadable clips of potential matches formated for the video-capable iPod.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a video worth when looking for love? Or making new friends? Imagine a site that allows you to look, listen to, and watch videos of potential matches… and the best part is that you can do it on the go. PodDater is the world’s first dating/social networking site that brings together the growing popularity of the online dating space and the enormous success of the iPod. Visitors to PodDater can come to our community, become a member, identify potential matches and then download them to their iPods. All for free.”

iPod and iTunes No. 1 in Japan

Apple today announced that the iPod and iTunes are leading the digital music market in Japan with iPod market share at nearly 60 percent, according to Business Computer News (BCN).

“Since the launch of the iTunes Music Store this summer and introduction of the iPod nano and fifth generation iPod, market share in Japan has grown rapidly, solidifying iPod’s position as the number one digital music player in Japan by a wide margin,” Apple said in a statement on Wednesday. “iTunes is the number one online music service in Japan and its library has grown steadily with the addition of dozens of independent labels.”

iPod retail chain launching in UK

PopXpress, a new chain of stores in the UK dedicated to the iPod and iPod accessories, has announced the opening of its first store. Located at London’s Liverpool Street, the shop is the first of 12 stores and will open on November 21.

“We are thrilled to be opening this store concept at such an exciting time in the iPod’s development,” said Jonathan Cole, CEO of popXpress. “The iPod has created a new market for consumer mobile music players and has resulted in an array of accessories. We have been planning the rollout for over a year and our plan is to have a second London West End store open before Christmas and 12 more stores nationwide by the end of 2006.

iPod still leading MP3 player mindshare at retailers

Following his second MP3 player retail recommendation survey, Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster says that Apple is easily holding its ground in U.S. retail stores, with iPod mindshare rising when it comes to high end devices. Like the first survey in June, Munster collected recommendations from reps at 50 non-Apple retail stores such as Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, and Fry’s Electronics about what portable digital audio devices they recommend to customers and why.

“In our Nov-05 retail survey, 68% of sales reps recommend purchase of an iPod or nano vs. any other portable audio device priced over $150. This is up from 63% of salespeople that recommended purchase of an iPod or mini in Jun-05,” Munster writes in a research noted provided to iLounge. “In the low end category, we saw iPod mindshare fall from 52% in Jun-05 to 38% in Nov-05. We believe this change is the result of 2 key items: 1) with the Nov-05 survey we changed the survey question to include only the shuffle on the low end vs. the shuffle and the 4GB mini in the Jun-05 survey, and 2) we believe the nano is stealing some mindshare from the shuffle within the iPod family.”

Munster said that the most common reasons given by MP3 player sales reps on why they recommend iPods are: video capability, ease of use, and a large assortment of accessories. Conversely, the analyst said that those who don’t recommend iPods point to two missing features—an FM radio tuner and screen (vs. iPod shuffle with no screen).

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.”

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