In a research note to clients on Wednesday, Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said Apple’s new iPod shuffle could take the top position in the flash-based MP3 player market in the next few quarters. “If Apple can ramp up production, Apple could take the No. 1 position in the flash market in the next couple of quarters. If Apple hits 5 percent share this quarter, that could be 300,000 units,” Milunovich said. “If it takes off, the number could be much higher, possibly passing the 1million mark.”
Milunovich pointed out that Apple currently has 65 percent of the total digital music player market, compared to flash’s 29 percent share. According to research from IDC, the flash player market has three times the units as the hard-disk drive-based (HDD) music player market, but about the same revenue ($2.3-2.5 billion). “Now that 4.5 million HDD iPods were sold last quarter (possibly 2 million in December), it was time for Apple to attack the next market with a lower cost flash-based iPod shuffle,” the analyst said.
Milunovich dismissed the notion that consumers will balk at the lack of a display on the iPod shuffle. “Some have indicated that the lack of a display will be an issue, but we are less concerned,” he said. “The $99 version holds 120 songs and the $149 holds 240—does one really need a display with that few songs? We believe this is a better option than a 60-song version with a display for $149. If a display is need then one needs to move up to he HDD iPods at $249+. We believe this also ensures that cannibalization will be limited while snaring more in the iTune/iPod net.”
Sonnet Technologies has announced the PodFreq photo, a new version of its FM transmitter designed for the larger 40 and 60GB iPod photo models. Based on the current PodFreq for 4G iPods, PodFreq photo broadcasts music through any nearby FM radio with “unmatched clarity and signal strength.” The $99.95 accessory encases the iPod photo in a durable, translucent shell to provide added protection. It has access to controls and the headphone jack, and features FireWire and mini-USB ports that enable syncing and charging without having to remove the iPod. PodFreq photo requires no batteries and ships with a car charger.
Gadget Accessories has introduced two new cases for Apple’s 4G iPod. Its Crystal Clear case ($8.99) is a durable plastic case that features an ultra clear body with cutouts for the click wheel, headphone jack, hold switch and dock connector. The company also announced a new silicone skin ($9.99) in three translucent colors. The form-fitting case is available in white, blue and pink.
Applian Technologies has introduced its new Replay Music, which records streaming music (from both subscription music services and online radio stations), splits songs into individual MP3s, and tags each file with the artist, title, genre and album name using Gracenote’s MusicID song recognition technology. Replay Music, which is only available for Windows users, is priced at $49.95.
A huge new collection of photos (140+) from the first day of the San Francisco Macworld Expo has been posted to the iLounge photo galleries, including photographs of hitherto undisclosed iPod accessories and other amazing stuff on the show floor. You can see the gallery here. Stay tuned for more photos of Day 2 thru 4 of the Expo.
During his keynote presentation at today’s Macworld Conference & Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that more than 4.5 million iPods were sold in the December quarter—500 percent growth year over year. Jobs said the total number of iPods sold to date now stands at over 10 million units, with 8.2 million of those being sold in 2004. He said the 10 millionth iPod was sold on December 16, 2004.
Jobs also said that more than 230 million songs have been purchased from the iTunes Music Store worldwide since it was launched in April 2003. He said that Apple is now selling approximately 1.25 million songs a day and that the company is on pace to sell nearly half a billion songs a year. Jobs also noted that over 1 million pre-paid iTunes cards have now been sold.
Apple has posted a commercial for its newly announced iPod shuffle, which features the song “Jerk It Out
While potentially a mundane topic to some of iLounge’s readers, Apple today introduced the “Made for iPod” certification, a badge that iPod accessory developers can display to differentiate their Apple-authorized accessory products from unauthorized ones. The Made for iPod badge addresses a subject of increasing concern to iLounge in recent weeks - the proliferation of certain low-quality and potentially dangerous iPod accessories that may harm your hardware, even when used as advertised and intended. Currently, it appears that vendors receiving the badge are only those whose products interface electronically with the iPod, rather than case makers.
According to some vendors on the show floor at Macworld San Francisco, Apple’s motivations behind the Made for iPod program may be equal parts financially driven, marketing driven, and consumer protection driven, perhaps in that descending order of importance. iLounge was told that the Made for iPod badge was originally proposed as a potential royalty stream for Apple - a means by which the company would collect revenues from sales of “authorized” accessories, and suggested that vendors might be able to charge even more for officially sanctioned accessories. Key to the program is Apple’s continued interest in licensing its proprietary male Dock Connector plugs and female ports - now also called the “iPod Connector” - while warning iPod owners about the dangers of insufficiently tested accessories that may create electrical disruptions in iPod hardware.
Like other company seals - such as Nintendo’s once-famous Seal of Quality - the Made for iPod program may have benefits for consumers, or may just be an opportunity to increase company licensing revenues while offsetting marketing costs. As iLounge has itself witnessed and heard external accounts of peripherals that wreak havoc with iPods and their batteries, but remains concerned about the slowly upward-creeping price of iPod accessories, we will continue to closely monitor this story in the months ahead.
At Macworld Expo in San Francisco today, iLounge spotted new iSkin mixed color silicone eVo2 cases with additional new twists: a plastic pop-in Click Wheel control protector, and co-branding with famous recording artists such as the Chemical Brothers and numerous professional sports teams, including the entire NBA. These special edition eVo2 cases will be offered in team colors and feature team graphics on their Click Wheel protectors.
iSkin also previewed a new version of its eVo case, featuring an exclusive anodized aluminum clip system that integrates beautifully with the rubber case body. Better yet, the company has reengineered its upcoming case bottoms to permit easier Dock Connector access, addressing a key iLounge concern in past reviews, and plans to roll out legitimately improved plastic belt Revoclips for upcoming eVo cases as well.
Shure has announced the its E4c sound isolating earphones, the latest addition to its line of premium audio accessories. Like the others products in the company’s consumer line, the E4c earphones utilize Shure’s sound isolation design to “prevent ambient noise from compromising the listening experience and to deliver the ultimate in audio quality.”
Shure said the new isolating earphones incorporate the same components used by professional musicians to monitor their performances on stage, and feature high-definition drivers with Tuned-Port technology for an ultra-wide frequency soundstage with brilliant highs and extended bass. The E4cs are also the lightest in Shure’s family of E Series earphones and are a good match for iPod users.
Shure is showcasing its roster of audio accessories at Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco all this week.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced a special offer: everyone who purchases an iBoom Boombox at dlodirect.com during the Macworld Conference & Expo—which runs Jan. 11 through Jan. 14—will receive a free Boombag. The Boombag, a carrying case made specifically for the popular iPod iBoom accessory, features a shoulder strap, pockets for storage and padded neoprene for protection. The DLO BoomBag is also on sale separately for $29.99 (normally $44.99).
Apple has released iTunes 4.7.1 and iPod Updater 2005-01-11. The new version of iTunes includes support for the new iPod shuffle and other performance improvements. iPod Updater 2005-01-11 includes iPod shuffle Software 1.0 for iPod shuffle. The update also contains the same iPod software included in iPod Updater 2004-11-15 for all other iPod models.
On a day in which Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised “a lot of firsts,” the company unquestionably delivered: most importantly, a $499 iPod-matching “Mac mini” was introduced with a January 22 release date, followed by the announcement of “iPod shuffle,” the least expensive and smallest capacity iPod at a $99/512MB configuration. Both products were touted as the cheapest ever introduced by Apple in their respective categories, and offered in modestly upgraded versions at $50 and $100 premiums. Prices for their higher-end brethren were left unchanged, such that iPods now range in price from $99 to $599, and Macintosh computers from $499 to $2999.
For the full story of all of the major announcements at Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote speech in San Francisco, please click on Read More. Today’s major announcements are as follows: the introduction of the iPod shuffle, a $99-$149 flash memory-based iPod, the introduction of the Mac mini, a $499-$599 Macintosh computer to attract ‘switchers’, a collection of new iPod shuffle accessories from Apple, changes to iTunes, a Motorola phone with an ‘iTunes client,” updated sales figures, and new Mac software.
Apple today announced it has teamed up with Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Nissan, Scion, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari to deliver iPod integration with their car stereo systems this year. The iPod Integration Kit for Mercedes-Benz will debut this April in the 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and will be available for most other 2005 and 2006 models later this year. Volvo will offer two iPod connectivity options—The Volvo iPod Adapter and an FM transmitter—for their entire 2005 US model line. Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari will announce details of their iPod integration solutions later this year. These companies join BMW and MINI Cooper who began providing integrated iPod solutions in 2004.
“Music lovers want to listen to their digital music in their cars, and we’re delighted to be working with Mercedes to offer a fully integrated solution,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “The iPod Integration Kit for Mercedes-Benz features the quality and attention to detail Mercedes is famous for, perfectly complementing Apple’s innovative iPod.”
iLounge is proud to present the world’s first photo gallery of the new iPod shuffle, Apple’s $99 iPod (512MB). A limited quantity of iPod shuffle units were made available at Apple’s San Francisco retail store, and iLounge was on hand for the launch. Additional units are shipping from Apple’s factory in Asia today, and should be available nationally this week.
The 512MB unit includes 120 song storage capacity, a 12 hour rechargeable battery, and headphones. A 1GB unit will also be available at $149.
Ipodlounge has six iPod shuffles. We’re giving away three to our readers. Stay tuned for the giveaway details later today.
Confirming months of speculation and publicized leaks from suppliers, Apple today unveiled the newest member of the iPod family, iPod shuffle. The compact digital audio player—built with flash memory instead of a hard-disk drive like other iPods—is the lowest-priced model yet, but also offers the least amount of song capacity. It is available immediately in 512MB and 1GB capacities for or $99 and $149, respectively.
Physically smaller than an iPod mini but made entirely from glossy white plastic like the front casings of most full-sized iPods, iPod shuffle is so named for its dramatic departure from iPod norms: it lacks its predecessors’ now iconic screen and Click Wheel controls, and is intended for casual, randomized music listening rather than storage of a full music library.
“iPod shuffle is smaller and lighter than a pack of gum and costs less than $100,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With most flash-memory music players users must use tiny displays and complicated controls to find their music; with iPod shuffle you just relax and it serves up new combinations of your music every time you listen.”
Apple said iPod shuffle takes advantage of iTunes’ new AutoFill feature, which “automatically selects the perfect number of songs to fill iPod shuffle from a user’s complete music library on their computer.” The company said that at any time, with a flip of a switch on the back of iPod shuffle, users can choose to listen to their music in order rather than shuffled.
Featuring a simplified four-direction control system to let users skip forward and backward, play/pause, and adjust volume upwards and downwards, iPod shuffle includes a headphone port at its top and standard Dock Connector port on its bottom to permit listening and file transferring, respectively.
The device, which can be plugged directly into a computer via USB, also doubles as a portable flash drive to back up and transfer personal files.
In addition to an included lanyard and earphones, Apple is selling an optional armband, clear sport case with neck strap, dock, USB power adapter, and battery pack that boosts battery life to up to 20 additional hours. All of the accessories sell for $29.
TEN Technology has announced three new naviPro eX models to its line of wireless remote controls for iPod. The new naviPro eX wireless remote models support all iPod models with Dock Connector, and offer additional functions including navigation of playlists, albums and chapters, shuffle and repeat modes. The naviPro receiver comes in three models—naviPro eX, naviPro eX black and naviPro eX mini. In addition, remote control of iPod photo slideshow is anticipated shortly with the same naviPro eX remote controller. The naviPro eX will begin shipping by end of January, and the naviPro eX mini and naviPro eX black in February. The suggested retail price for all models is $49.95.
XtremeMac today announced the debut of Shieldz, translucent clip-on covers for the iPod mini. Shieldz are designed to add color while providing protection, according to the company. Shieldz come in five colors; Sky, Rose, Tangerine, Lilac, Kiwi and Ice (clear). They work with the iPod mini belt-clip and armband and are also compatible with XtremeMac’s Accessory kit for iPod mini. Shieldz sell individually at a suggested retail price of $12.95.
Griffin Technology today introduced the Xpress Stand for Apple’s Airport Express. The Xpress Stand increases effective range and signal efficiency for AirTunes by raising the base station higher up in the room. It also makes it easier to check the network status light at a glance. The design includes built-in cable management, and a weighted, chrome metal base. Pricing for Griffin Xpress Stand has been set at $24.99. Pre-orders are being accepted at Griffin’s website for shipment beginning in the first quarter of 2005.
My, how the world has changed. Three years after Apple Computer’s October 2001 introduction of the iPod, the company famous in technology circles for its Apple ][ and Macintosh personal computers is arguably even more famous in the mainstream for its portable music players. And while the bi-annual Macworld Expo - the American exposition of new Apple and third-party hardware and software - seems to shrink with each passing year, the presence and importance of iPod developers within that expo continues to grow.
Leading iPod accessory vendors including Belkin, Dr. Bott, Griffin, iSkin, Marware and XtremeMac have rapidly expanded their Macworld Expo San Francisco show staff and floor space to accommodate new product lines, each seeking to broaden its offerings to provide more complete solutions to iPod owners’ needs. Last year’s smaller iPod vendors - TEN Technology, Eroch Studios of LiliPod fame, and MacMice, as examples - now have two, three or four times their previous number of offerings on display.
Some consolidation of even smaller vendors’ better offerings into large companies’ distribution networks is evident. Key case manufacturers are moving to sell plug-in iPod hardware developed by newly hired staff or smaller Asian affiliates. Larger companies are seeing executive-level changes, as evidenced by the just-announced movement of former Griffin Vice President of Marketing and Design Andrew Green to a similar position at rival Digital Lifestyle Outfitters.
And yet Macworld’s tent is getting smaller. On the heels of its announcement months ago that it would shrink the venue at its summer Boston Macworld to create a cozier atmosphere for the decreasing number of attendees and exhibitors, expo host IDG has now shifted the San Francisco show’s primary exhibition floor entirely into a single tent at Muscone Center South from its previous two-tent Muscone North and South spread. A few vendors are in smaller booths, or appear not to be represented on the floor at all. Though corporate inbreeding hasn’t recently been foreign to the world of Apple third-party development, the gene pool looks - but perhaps only looks - smaller inside Macworld’s convention hall.
New excitement and new blood may well be needed. And it is anticipated that lower-cost Apple products to be announced for release this year may begin that process. iLounge will be reporting live from Macworld Expo San Francisco all week with the details.