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.’”
“‘Cool’ was the word of the night as eager members of the Class of 2008 gathered en masse on the East Campus Quadrangle Thursday to receive their long-awaited and highly-publicized welcome gifts: 20-gigabyte Apple iPods.
‘This is so cool,’ freshman after freshman exclaimed as they were handed boxes containing the tiny digital devices that are at the heart of the much-hyped Duke iPod First-Year Experience.’
Having problems with your fourth-generation (4G) iPod? You’re not alone. Three weeks after the release of Apple’s newest iPods, iLounge readers have reported that approximately 42% of their 4G units have manifested an audio defect identified by iLounge, while others have complained of receiving soiled or physically damaged hardware. The problems affect new-in-box 20 Gigabyte and 40 Gigabyte iPod models sold with a Click Wheel control system. Click “Read more” below for additional details.
iPod Updater 2004-08-06 supports all models of iPod and iPod mini. This update includes the latest available software for each model of iPod or iPod mini.
Download and install the iPod Updater 2004-08-06 then connect your iPod or iPod mini to yor computer. The iPod Updater will automatically determine if an update is required.
“It isn’t a major surprise that the recent initial public offering filing of semiconductor company PortalPlayer got lost in the shuffle. [...]
But PortalPlayer, which filed for its IPO on Aug. 4, bears watching over the next few months. Here’s why.
PortalPlayer gets most of its business from a Taiwanese company called Inventec. And Inventec is the company that makes this little device that you may have heard—it’s called the iPod.”
In its quarterly report (SEC form 10-Q) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today, Apple summarized several iPod and iTunes related details.
iPod sales increased $138 million or 124% during the third quarter of 2004 compared to the same period in 2003. Sales of iPods rose $545 million or 243% in the first nine months of fiscal 2004. iPod unit sales of 860,000 for the quarter show a year-over-year increase of 183%.
“This growth was driven by continued strength in demand for the iPod, introduction of the iPod mini, increased expansion of [our] iPod distribution network, and continued success of the iTunes Music Store,” Apple said.
Net sales of Apple’s other music products (iTMS and iPod related services and accessories) increased 508% in the third quarter thanks to an increase in overall iPod unit sales and the introduction of the iTMS in Europe.
Apple also noted that it has sold approximately 3.7 million iPods since the device debuted in 2001.
“I’ve been testing the system in a $54,000 BMW 330Ci convertible, lent to me for a few days by BMW. I have tried several different iPods in the car, including a brand-new, fourth-generation model. My conclusion: The BMW iPod adapter works, but in a pretty crude way that will likely leave the iPod cult hungering for more. It’s a decent first step, but that’s all. [...]
A couple of times, in several days of tests, I’d start the car and the system would freeze up. I had to switch to a different playlist to jolt the iPod into action. And once, when I increased the volume, it suddenly skipped a song.”
“Sony lost the plot”, said professor Dr. Michael Bull, the world’s leading expert on personal stereos, speaking to new London iPod club, Playlist. “The iPods’ mixture of function and pure technological beauty in an age in which we still get fed-up with impossibly complex technologies makes it iconic,” he said. “Events like Playlist show how impossible it is to categorize people’s listening habits,” he explained.
“That’s the message from the “Save the iPod’’ campaign. Holmes Wilson, an organizer of the Web-based movement, warns that the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act now pending in Congress threatens to silence the popular music player. In other words, your right to bear beats is in danger. [...]
The Induce Act would give the music industry and other copyright holders new legal grounds to sue any business that profits from encouraging people to illegally distribute songs, movies, software, games and other copyrighted works. The proposed law targets popular online file-swapping services such as Kazaa.”
Time Magazine’s Wilson Rothman named the new 4G iPod the “Gadget of the Week” and noted that “you should know that internally the new iPod is a ground-up reconstruction, and its really compelling applications — the ones that very well might get the goat of anyone unable or unwilling to upgrade — are still secret. All that Apple is saying is that there’s more to this than what’s being publicized.”
Updating our earlier news story regarding headphone port static and hard drive noise problems in Apple’s new fourth-generation iPods, iLounge has remained in contact with Apple and our readers over the past several days in an attempt to help the company determine the nature and extent of the problems.
iLounge’s editors returned both of their affected 40GB iPods at Apple’s request for testing, and replaced them with two new 40GB iPods yesterday. One of the new iPods exhibits no problems. The other exhibits the exact same defect as before. This brings our internal total of tested iPods to five, two (one 20GB unit, one 40GB unit) without the static issues, and three (all 40GB units) with them.
Of the 158 responses we collected from our initial story on the defect, 85 readers posted the results of their own 4G iPod testing, and of that group, 54 readers (63.5%) reported no problems, while 31 readers (36.5%) reported the same problems we had found. While we emphasize that the results of our inquiry are comprised of strictly voluntary submissions from readers, and should not be taken as scientific or conclusive, they do suggest that the problem may be more widespread than we had originally hoped. For a full discussion of testing procedures, please click on the “More info” link below.