Following a complaint from a consumer watchdog that the UK iTunes Music Store overcharges customers, the Office of Fair Trading has referred the issue to the European Commission.
Napster founder Shawn Fanning is touting a new technology called Snocap that is designed to help music companies cash in on peer-to-peer file sharing.
Mac pundit John Gruber has written an excellent piece on the rumored flash memory-based iPod. “If there is a flash memory iPod in the pipeline, the fact that it uses flash memory is the least interesting part of the story,” he concludes.
Arizona State University is offering free iPod minis to students applying for housing renewals at certain locations for next year. Eligible students must apply by 5 p.m. today.
This Sunday, Dec. 5, CBS News Sunday Morning will air a report by best-selling author and NY Times tech writer David Pogue on the culture of iPod Mania. Pogue won a 2004 Business Emmy just yesterday for his tech segments on the show.
XtremeMac today announced the Audio Splitter for iPod. The $12.95 accessory allows you to share music from your iPod with another listener. It works with the 3G and 4G iPod, iPod photo and iPod mini. The splitter allows free access to the iPod hold switch and requires no batteries, and does not draw power or lessen the iPod’s battery life.
In its annual report (SEC form 10-K) filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple summarized several iPod and iTunes related details. The company said it sold a total of 4.4 million iPods in fiscal 2004, a 370 percent increase from the 939,000 iPods sold in fiscal 2003. Apple reported that net sales of iPods rose $961 million or 279 percent during fiscal 2004 compared to the previous year. Since it was first introduced in fiscal 2002, Apple has sold approximately 5.7 million iPods. Apple said net sales of other music products, which consists of sales associated with the iTunes Music Store and iPod related services and accessories, increased $242 million or 672 percent during fiscal 2004 compared to previous year.
“Strong demand for the iPods during fiscal 2004 continued to be experienced in all of the company’s operating segments and was driven by enhancements to the iPod, the introduction of the iPod mini, increased expansion of the iPod distribution network, and continued success of the iTunes Music Store due largely to making it available to both Macintosh and Windows users in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany,” Apple said in the filing.
RadTech has announced a new version of its PodSleevz for Apple’s iPod photo. Made from 0.8mm Optex, the form-fitting sleeve case protects the iPod from scratching and abrasion, while adding minimal bulk to the player. The sleeve features a debossed control area that allows the iPod to be played directly through the case, a clear protective display covering, and full access to all ports. The PodSleevz are available immediately in six colors for $19.95.
iPod Access 1.1 from Findley Designs is the latest version of the Windows utility that allows users to transfer music files from an iPod back to a computer. The free update fixes “No Disk in Drive” errors, fixes a bug where the last song in the Library would not display in Playlists, includes an updated Esellerate engine, and offers improved documentation.
Simpl Acoustics today introduced the Simpl A1 headphone amplifier for iPod. The audio component is designed to deliver the best possible sound from the popular player. “Music lovers with high-end headphones can now enjoy audiophile-level performance from iPod. Until now, those who wished to use high-end headphones with the iPod were required to use expensive, bulky amplifiers that were not designed with the iPod in mind. The Simpl A1 was engineered from the ground up to enhance the sound from the iPod and provide the power needed by high-end, power-hungry headphones. Simpl A1 uses podGrip technology along with smart industrial design to firmly attach itself to the iPod.” The Simpl A1 is available from MacMall and J&R for $149.99.
Dan Torres of Rio Audio talks to BusinessWeek about how his company aims to take on the iPod. Strangely, Torres plans to target buyers who value “ease of use.”
Blogger Matt Haughey has received his free special edition TiVo iPod thanks to good performance in the company’s referral program.
In his review of Portable Media Centers from Samsung and Creative, Wall Street Journal tech guru Walt Mossberg says the handheld video and audio players are not ready for prime time.
Apple has now opened the much-anticipated Canadian version of the iTunes Music Store. Individual songs are priced at CDN$0.99 each. As previously reported, Apple announced in October that it would launch a store in Canada before the end of November. With that deadline coming and going without an announcement, Apple stated earlier today that customers would see a Canadian store “very soon.”
Update: Apple has now officially announced the store. “The demand across Canada for the iTunes Music Store has been overwhelming,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of applications. “We are excited to be able to offer music fans in Canada their own customized iTunes Music Store featuring many top Canadian artist exclusives.” The new store features over 700,000 songs and offers the same personal use rights as in the US and Europe.
Clarion today announced that it will unveil a fully integrated iPod solution for its new VRX755VD in-dash DVD player/monitor at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The VRX755VD will feature a touch-screen, seven-inch monitor that can display playlist, song and artist information, a clock and any engaged sound enhancement features. The VRX755VD is expected to ship in February 2005. Clarion said that it will also be showcasing a new CD receiver solution for the iPod at the event. Scheduled for a mid-2005 launch, the iPod interface will be compatible with Clarion’s CeNET-equipped source units (includes CD receivers and in-dash DVD players with monitors).
Apple has confirmed that it will not meet its November deadline for a Canadian version of the iTunes Music Store. “We said that we would launch the iTunes Music Store in Canada by the end of November, but we’re going to miss this deadline by a bit,” Apple said in a statement. “You’ll hear from us very soon.” The company did not provide a specific release date or reason for the delay.
At a press event Tuesday, Apple released the iPod photo and U2 iPod in Korea. More than 95 percent of the Korean market is currently dominated by flash memory-based players.
One reporter is using his iPod and the Griffin iTalk for recording news audio content. “Coming up next: an iPod with a station logo painted on it,” notes the blogger who spotted the act.
Diesel Sweeties is now selling a T-shirt for the iPod early adopters that reads: “I had an iPod before you even knew what one was.”
Metro FreeFi has added several new U.S. locations to wiPod, its iPod-based field guide to free wi-fi locations. You can also now choose which specific areas to add to your iPod. “Now when you are on the road you can look up a free hotspot quickly and easily right from your iPod. No, the iPod isn’t wi-fi enabled (yet). wiPod uses the Notes functionality of the iPod OS to store the database in an easy to use format… From Miami to Seattle, and Los Angeles to New York, Metro FreeFi is making sure you never have to pay for wi-fi ever again.”
BoxWave has added a new version of its Active Skin soft case for Apple’s 40GB iPod photo. The form-fitting case is frosted clear and provides access to all controls and ports, and includes a carrying strap. The Active Skin for iPod photo is priced at $18.95. BoxWave has also introduced an Active Case for the iPod mini. The crystal-clear hard case allows access to control buttons and Click Wheel. It is priced at $23.95.
FredFlare.com has begun offering iPod hoodies, unique cases that resemble hooded sweatshirts. The iPod hoodies, from the designer line C. Ronson (Charlotte Ronson), are available in three colors—blue, green and pink—for $24 each. “A naked iPod? Girlfriend, you’ve got to cover that thing—and we have a super solution! C. Ronson’s iPod hoodie has all the features of its life-sized original yet scaled down to keep your MP3 player or phone lookin spiffy!”
Trendy Geek today announced a new version of its Pod Shield for Apple’s iPod mini. The high-static film sleeve provides protection for the player’s screen and stainless steel back. They are priced at $12.99. Trendy Geek also announced it is offering a Pod Shield protector kit for one penny for a limited time. The Pod Shield Screen Only kit contains three iPod screen protectors for all generations and every gigabyte size of the full-sized iPod.
In a move aimed squarely at iPod, Sony today introduced the NW-HD3 Network Walkman, its first hard disk-based player to support the popular MP3 song format. The 20GB device is the successor of Sony’s first hard disk Walkman (introduced earlier this year), which only supported the company’s proprietary Atrac file format. Sony claims that the NW-HD3, which now comes in four new colors, plays 2.5 times longer than the iPod on a single charge, and can hold several thousand more songs thanks to the Atrac compression. However, the new Walkman will sell for approximately 30 pounds more than the iPod. It will be available in the UK before Christmas at 249 pounds ($462.70) and elsewhere in Europe in early 2005 at 369 euros ($489). The NW-HD3 will also go on sale in Japan this month for around ¥42,000 ($408.76). There is no word yet on US plans.
Marware is now offering its SportSuit Santa iPod case in new sizes to fit all iPods. The holiday-themed case is now available in two sizes—one for the original iPod, 3G iPod and 4G iPod (including iPod photo and U2 iPod) and one for the iPod mini (see iLounge review). The $19.95 accessory features a fuzzy neoprene exterior with white fur top, a plush-lined interior, and includes a lanyard and belt loop.
PDair has introduced an aluminum hard case for Apple’s fourth-generation iPod. Made of aircraft grade aluminum, the lightweight silver case features a neoprene inner lining, a removable 360-degree swivel belt clip, and neck strap. It also has cutouts that provide access to the Click Wheel, dock connector, headphone jack, and hold switch. Cases are available for both the 20GB and 40GB iPods.
Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Milunovich expects Apple to introduce a flash memory-based iPod in early 2005, possibly in January at Macworld Expo. In a research note obtained by iLounge, Milunovich said that he is looking for the new flash iPods to be priced in the $149 to $199 range. He notes that the flash MP3 market is five times the size of the hard drive player market in units and about two times its size in revenue. “This is a market Apple should want to participate in because it will pull new customers into the iPod/iTunes ecosystem,” Milunovich said. “We believe consumers will hesitate to switch once they become accustomed to the iPod’s scrollwheel or have purchased a number of iTunes (which only work on iPods). The land grab is on.”
DecalGirl.com is offering a host of removable vinyl decals for Apple’s iPod mini. They’re priced at $6.99 and come in a variety of designs—from tie-dyed to camo. “These iPod mini skins were prototyped using a highly detailed 3D polygon model for outstanding accuracy. They’re printed using UV-stable inks on glossy cast vinyl (instead of the less-expensive calendared material), then laminated with a clear protectant layer of cast vinyl. They’ll never smudge, smear or fade—by using only the best materials and equipment, we can guarantee they’ll never wear, discolor, smudge or smear for the life of your iPod—that’s our exclusive Battle Armor warranty.”