“Speaking to an exclusive gathering of press in London on a number of issues, such as security, Steve Ballmer didn’t pass up the opportunity to take several digs at his company’s arch rival Apple. [...]
Billing Microsoft as the good guys and Apple the villains of the piece - at least as far as corporate America, rather than users, is concerned, Ballmer said: ‘We’ve had DRM in Windows for years. The most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’.’”
Apple has posted a job seeking a RF Hardware Engineer with “knowledge of communication circuits and interest in physical principles utilized in modern radio communication devices, thorough knowledge of modulation methods, coding, compression or encryption.” Could this mean the possibility of a future iPod with radio capabilites?
“Citing ‘numerous sources in Asia,’ Thomas Weisel analyst Jason Pflaum said Apple will use SigmaTel’s controller chips for a player it’s planning to launch this Christmas. [...]
Unlike Apple’s hugely popular iPod and iPod Mini players, the new player would use solid-state flash memory, which has less capacity but can make for a lighter, cheaper player.”
Gregory Ng of AppleMatters writes: “A generation is dying and there’s nothing I can do about it. There comes a time when one must face the inevitable: the passing on of someone near and dear to their heart. A generation that set the standard for all that would follow. A generation that changed the world. A generation that is slowly dying off. I’m talking of course about the 1st and 2nd generation iPods. ...”
MacMinute reports that digital video recorder maker TiVo is offering a 20GB “Limited Edition Apple iPod” to members of its TiVo Rewards program, which combines points for user referrals and use of a TiVo-branded MasterCard. Collect 20,000 TiVo Rewards points and get the special iPod, which TiVo explains is unique because “the TiVo logo is etched on back!” (Okay, their choice of punctuation may be a little dramatic, but sure, it’ll be a collectors’ item of sorts.)
Citing comments from research and investment house Susquehanna Financial Group pertaining to memory maker Lexar Media’s sales of NAND flash memory, CBS Marketwatch reports that “Susquehanna… added that the popular Apple iPod also uses the NAND type of flash memory and that demand is strong, with Apple and Hewlett-Packard planning to ship about 1 million iPods per month starting in October.”
If accurate, the projected volume of shipments would represent an increase of approximately three times known monthly sales of iPods for the preceding quarter, and suggests that Apple and HP anticipate a banner holiday season for iPod sales.
Eliot Van Buskirk, Section Editor, Technology for mp3.com has discovered that Apple is not responsible for designing the Scroll Wheel. “I’d always assumed that this bit of design genius sprung from Apple’s R&D labs, but, in fact, I discovered that a company called Synaptics, which primarily makes touchpads for laptops, actually designed this little piece of navigational heaven, in accordance with Apple’s stringent design requirements.” Synaptics designed and manufactured the Scroll Wheel/Touch Wheel and the current Click Wheel.
“The store’s owner, 50-year-old Takeyuki Ishii, recommends plugging an iPod into an FM transmitter, such as Griffin Technology’s iTrip, and listening to music through the speaker of an antique radio.
Ishii believes there is aural magic in the combination of the very old with the very new. Playing an iPod through an old radio or tube-driven amplifier gives it a special warmth and atmosphere, he says.”
Alpine has launched a Flash site titled “Take your iPod for a drive” with additional details about how the iPod interface works, an interactive demo, and a dealer locator.
Apple has posted and began airing another new TV spot for iPod + iTunes titled “Saturday Hip Hop” featuring the song “Saturday Night” by Ozomatli. The new ad is similar to previous ads featuring silhouetted dancers on colored backgrounds.
Larry Angell of MacMinute.com writes “In an obvious move to gain new Mac purchasers, Apple is heavily promoting the similarities between the iPod and the new iMac G5. The main tagline on Apple’s homepage says it best. “From the creators of iPod. The new iMac G5,” the page simply reads, showing an iPod and iMac side by side. It appears Apple is hoping that the cross-platform success of the iPod will help the company to convince Windows users to make their next computer purchase an iMac. ‘Just like the iPod redefined portable digital music players, the new iMac G5 redefines what users expect from a consumer desktop,’ said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.”
During the opening moments of the Keynote at Apple Expo Paris, Vice President of WorldWide Marketing, Phil Schiller told the audience that the iPod has captured 58 percent share of the digital music player market since June 2004.
In a characteristic demonstration of his ability to personalize other people’s musical innovations, rap mogul P. Diddy used this evening to unveil a diamond-encrusted iPod at his after party for the MTV Video Music Awards. Covered with 120 diamonds, the HP-labeled iPod is now unquestionably amongst the world’s most expensive customized iPods, and each guest at the Diddy party will receive an iPod - sans ice. Additionally, iPod minis and related accessories have been given away to VIP attendees of the Video Music Awards, and to VIPs at an earlier MTV Movie Awards show this year.
Not content to allow the “Apple iPod from HP” to be dismissed as just an iPod clone from a second company, Hewlett-Packard has disclosed in an interview with iLounge both the company’s new iPod-related product offerings and the actual differences between the Apple and HP versions of the iPod. “There are a lot of similarities between the two products,” explained HP’s Perry Ralph, Product Manager for the Apple iPod from HP, “we wanted to extend [the iPod] and integrate it more into the PC space and the digital entertainment space.”
To that end, HP has demonstrated a new portable, LCD-equipped 4"x6” photo printer, the HP PhotoSmart 375 ($199), which can connect with the iPod via USB for direct digital printing. The printer can run off of battery power and also includes Bluetooth wireless functionality for direct print connections to cellular phones and other devices. HP has also introduced HPTunes, software compatible with Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center operating system “which lets iTunes music be played on the Media Center’s extended interface,” which Mr. Ralph explains was previously not possible.
Tech-savvy users will likely believe that HP’s changes to the iPod hardware are only skin deep. Mr. Ralph said that although the HP logo will now appear in addition to Apple’s on the back of HP-distributed iPod hardware, “other than that, the physical components are all the same.” From cables to Docks to earbuds, the Apple iPod from HP will use all of Apple’s parts, not HP’s.
But the differences, including new packaging, manuals, and a poster, are intended to make the iPod even easier for first-time digital music users to enjoy. “The user guide is very Windows-centric,” said Mr. Ralph, “so we can talk to the Windows-based consumer.” Noting that HP’s research suggested that new iPod users needed more help ripping CDs and transferring music to the iPod, Mr. Ralph said that a “setup poster we have is the first thing you see when you open up the box; in a single page you let the consumer see how to connect it up [and easily use the iPod].” And unlike Apple, HP will recommend use of the included USB 2.0 cable for music transfers, given the smaller penetration of the FireWire standard in the Windows PC market. Software in the HP box will be identical to Apple’s PC installers for the iPod.
Starting with the September 30th issue of Rolling Stone magazine, HP will also give away HP Tattoos - iPod covering stickers featuring photographic and artistic content from various recording artists. Each magazine will include one Tattoo from a total of five or six variations, and blank Tattoos will be available in 10-packs ($14.99) from HP, Circuit City, and CompUSA. Free art will be provided for the blank Tattoos by MTV and BMG at www.hp.com/music. Individual blanks will not be available. HP claims that the Tattoos will last for between three and four weeks and will leave no residue on an iPod.
On a final note, HP explained the following regarding its use of two product names in publicity materials today, the abbreviated “iPod+hp” name is intended to appear in headlines, while the actual product name is “Apple iPod from HP.”
Alternately referred to as the “iPod+hp” and the “Apple iPod from HP,” Hewlett-Packard’s rebranded version of the fourth-generation iPod will initially be available in 20GB ($299.99) and 40GB ($399.99) capacities. Pre-orders for the device are currently being taken at the HPShopping web site, and will receive free shipping as a “special offer.” A September 15, 2004 estimated ship date is listed at the site, though other HP pages list online availability beginning today “at various retailers” with in-store availability starting on September 12. HP is also selling a small collection of third-party iPod accessories from Belkin, Griffin, Altec Lansing and XtremeMac, all available now.
Other than the fact that each new unit’s chrome back carries both Apple and HP logos, the white and chrome iPod+hp initially appears identical to Apple’s version of the iPod, contradicting initial claims from HP that their model would come in a special “HP Blue” color. Unlike the iPod, however, the iPod+hp is listed as Windows compatible only, with a PC installation disk. HP will provide service for the device through HP Total Care, notably for one year with full telephone support during that year, surpassing Apple’s newly unimpressive single free telephone call policy. The company will also provide a customized instruction booklet and a new quick start poster to add to the iPod’s legendary ease-of-use.
HP is also offering one of nine different “HP Tattoos,” or iPod-covering musical artist stickers, to those who purchase the iPod+hp from CompUSA, Circuit City, or HPShopping.com. These stickers currently include designs for Ashlee Simpson, The Cure, Gwen Stefani, Keane, Lloyd Banks, Sting, The Who, The Hives, and Vanessa Carlton. The company has also announced plans to offer “HP Printable Tattoos” to allow users to make their own iPod stickers using HP printers and “the latest album art from the newest releases” - provided via HP’s Tattoo Gallery.
Beginning with sponsorship of the MTV Video Music Awards, HP will also launch a separate advertising campaign for the iPod+hp, including commercials on MTV channels across the world and a global digital photo contest with a trip to Rome, Italy as the prize. MTV and HP’s newly-announced strategic marketing partnership for promotion of the iPod+hp will include advertisements in territories from the United States to Latin America, Asia and Europe.
Update: MacMinute has posted copies of HP’s new iPod print ads .
“Such are the perils of using Shuffle, a genre-defying option that has transformed the way people listen to their music in a digital age. The problem is, now that people are rigging up their iPods to stereos at home and in their cars, they may have to think twice about what they have casually added to their music library.
Shuffle commands have been around since the dawn of the CD player. But the sheer quantity of music on an MP3 player like the iPod - and in its desktop application, iTunes - has enabled the function to take on an entirely new sense of scale and scope. It also heightens the risk that a long-forgotten favorite song will pop up, for better or for worse, in mixed company.”
ThinkSecret.com recently reported that Apple has changed its 90 day complimentary phone support for 4G iPods and minis (sold after July 24) to one incident within the first 90 days. The following appears on Apple’s iPod FAQ page:
Question 29: How long is iPod complimentary telephone support?
Answer: Newer iPods come with a single incident of complimentary telephone support within the first 90 days. This change in the complimentary support offering applies to:
iPod (Click Wheel)
any iPod minis sold on or after July 24
Previous models of iPod (such as the Dock Connector and Touchwheel models), as well as iPod minis sold before July 24, still come with 90 days of complimentary support (covering unlimited incidents).
“Apple is looking for two iPod hardware engineers both with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi experience, opening the possibility that the portable music player may be upgraded with wireless connectivity.
... At the very least, Apple is keen on increased integration between Wi-Fi and iTunes, and there’s a big hole in its product line here: the remote control system. Whether it has in mind something a simple as an 802.11-enabled iPod, a more complex tablet-style computer, or both, remains to be seen.”
A critical excerpt from Apple’s job posting (emphasis ours) notes that:
“* Experience in the following areas is important: system integration, digital logic, SDRAM, Flash, ASIC’s, processor selection, ATAPI, various communication protocols (ie: GSM, Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11, Firewire, and USB), display types and video and analog integration.
* Broad experience: both digital and analog.”
“Copy protection provider Macrovision is sufficiently confident that it will be able to incorporate FairPlay support into its CDS-300 copy control that is has begun telling customers that it will add iTunes and iPod support to its software in Q4.
According to mailings sent out with the company’s CDS-300 version 7 beta release, ‘support for iPod and iTunes… will be made available in a Q4 update.’”