Marware has introduced the Santa case for Apple’s iPod mini. The holiday-themed case features an interior neoprene lining and a soft red fabric exterior with white fur top. The Santa also sports a fabric belt loop and a lanyard necklace clip that allows you to hang it with the rest of your Christmas stockings. The Marware Santa case is priced at $19.95. As of this posting, Marware’s Web site has yet to be updated.
Contour Design has announced the iSee-40, a new version of its ultra-clear iPod case designed specifically for the 40GB fourth-generation iPod. Like the iSee-20, the new case features a clear, hard plastic shell, removable belt clip and access to all iPod functions. There is also a dock port cover for the dock connector and security latches on each side to seal in the iPod. The iSee-40 is priced at $19.99.
Mediafour has released an update to XPlay 2, its software that enables Windows users to connect with both Mac and PC iPods, and the only retail product that makes iPods compatible with Windows 98SE and Me. XPlay 2.0.11 is compatible with Windows Media Player 10, plus supports updating and restoring all iPods with the latest iPod software releases. Additionally, XPlay 2.0.11 works with the new iTunes 4.7.
MacMinute reports: “Apple’s new iPod Store has added product ratings, allowing customers to submit reviews and rate products from one to five stars. Strangely, users can only review third-party products—all Apple gear is automatically given a ‘5-Apple rating’ because the company says “we think they’re great.” In the frequently asked questions of the reviews program, Apple tells why customers can’t rate Apple products: ‘Would you trust us to display less than perfect ratings on our own products? We didn’t think so!’”
Calling the iPod “nothing more than an enormous marketing success,” CNBC’s Robert Walberg says there is only one direction for the player’s market share to go—lower. “Of course, one problem with the iPod’s market share is that it pretty much has only one way to go—down. In the end, the iPod is nothing more than an enormous marketing success. Sure, it was groundbreaking at first. But today you can find a number of similar products from other leading PC and consumer electronics companies, most at equal or better prices. The company’s iTunes and add-on strategy are likely to keep iPod No. 1 for years to come. Still, it’s tough to sustain a near monopoly in a commodity-based business.”
LoadPod, a nationwide iPod CD loading service, has announced a new, more affordable pricing structure that brings lower prices and rewards those customers with larger CD collections. The price for customers with 50 to 99 CDs is now $1.49 per CD. The price for customers with 100 to 199 CDs is now $1.39 per CD. And customers with 200 or more CDs will now pay $1.29 per CD. In addition, there is no longer a travel fee for any size collection.
Engadget has posted iPodDownload 1.1, a new version of the iTunes plug-in that allows you to transfer songs from any iPod to your iTunes library. As noted earlier this week, iTunes 4.7 disables iPodDownload—but this update adds support for the latest version of Apple’s jukebox application. Engadget suggests user “come and get it quick” before Apple steps in and stops the distribution of the update.
Monster today announced iCruze, a direct connect iPod auto solution that allows consumers to play their music collection through their car audio systems. In conjunction with SoundGate, the iCruze is a $199.95 interface that enables the connection of an iPod to a factory or aftermarket radio through either the car’s existing CD changer or satellite radio port. Users are able to select songs and playlists through either the steering wheel controls or the CD player’s controls. An optional display (multi-line, 20-character backlit) is available if the existing head unit is limited and cannot display text. The iCruze will work in “virtually hundreds of different vehicles,” according to Monster. It is scheduled to be available later this fall.
MP3.com said the Rio Carbon was an able competitor, but “it didn’t have the stamina to keep up with the solid build of the iPod mini.”
MacMinute reports that Apple has begun blocking users of iTunes 4.2 or lower from making purchases from the iTunes Music Store, and is encouraging users to upgrade. “As of today, customers will need to use one of the three most recent versions of iTunes—4.7, 4.6 or 4.5—to continue purchasing and downloading songs,” Apple said in a statement. “Less than 5% of all iTunes customers are using the old iTunes 4.2 version, so asking them to upgrade to the free iTunes 4.7 is no big deal. iTunes 4.7 is a free download and includes innovative features such as iMix, Party Shuffle, CD Insert Printing, and support for the complete line of iPods including the new iPod Photo.”
YamiPod is a freeware application to manage your Apple iPod for Windows and Mac OS X. Many features (copy from/to iPod, syncronization, lyrics, auto download, notes and much more). Beta testers needed.
Today crispSofties released version 2.7 of it’s shareware iPod.iTunes. This iPod utility provides synchronization of tracks and playlists from any iPod to any Mac, including track info like Rating, Last Played and Play Count.
Apple’s U.S. market share of hard drive-based music players fell nearly 5% in September to 87.3%. The decline was attributed to an increase in sales of flash-based players and the first time inclusion of the HP-branded iPod in the numbers. “Among hard drive-based players, Apple maintained its strong hold on the market with a 87.3% share, down from 92.0%, followed by HP in second with its iPod made by Apple at 3.6%,” reports The Mac Observer. “Combining the HP and Apple percentages, Apple controlled 90.9% of the market share, down 1.1% from August. Finishing out the top five of hard drive-based players was Rio with a 2.8% share, up from 2.5%, Creative in fourth with 2.6% from 2.3%, and iRiver at 1.5% from 1.2%.”
Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich is expecting Apple to sell 2.68 million iPods in the December quarter—nearly four times higher than a year ago. “Demand for the music players, which let users download, store and play thousands of songs, made Apple the second-best performing stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this year… Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., said last month that sales will rise to as much as $2.9 billion in the period that ends Christmas Day, as gift buying fuels a ‘marked increase’ in iPod shipments and customers snap up a new version of the iMac computer released in September.”
Poetstyle today introduced two new fashion iPod cases. The Desdemona is a Shakespeare Othello-inspired “black witty” case for fourth-generation iPod and iPod Photo models as well as the iPod mini. Also announced was a new, smaller version of Poetstyle’s Princess case for iPod mini users. Both cases are made with genuine leather and come with a special buckled-carrying cord. Poetstyle is offering a special pre-order price to the first 100 customers. The mini-size Princess case is priced at $31, while the Desdemona sells for $40 (mini-size) and $35 (4G iPod).
Vaja has announced that it is now shipping its iVod case for fourth-generation iPods. Similar to its existing line of i-Volution iVod cases for earlier model iPods, the padded leather case features a screen protector and access to the Click Wheel, dock port, headphone port, and hold switch. The $70 case is available in a slew of color combinations.
As first noted in the comments of an iLounge news item, the audio defect found in Apple’s fourth-generation iPod and iPod Photo is apparently caused mostly by third-party headphones/earbuds that have a metal base around the headphone plug. When the metal base comes in contact with the metal case of the iPod, the static and hard drive accessing noises can be heard.
Several readers have provided temporary fixes for the issue. One reader suggests using a small piece of plastic wrap between the headphone plug and iPod, while another has had luck with a tiny teflon washer. Others have simply used scotch tape. Basically, any insulating material that can fit between (and around) the plug and the top of the iPod will work as long as it does not conduct electricity.
One enterprising iPod owner has squeezed an external iPod battery pack into an Altoids tin.
Japanese manufacturer Audio-Technica has introduced a new set of headphones that match the colors of the iPod mini.
In an article on mobile porn, Wired calls Apple’s new iPod Photo “a triple-X theater in your pocket.”
Sonnet Technologies has announced that its PodFreq FM Transmitter for iPod now includes a car charger at no additional cost. The car charger works in any standard +12V cigarette lighter/auxiliary power socket, and plugs into PodFreq’s FireWire port to charge the iPod. Features include a replaceable fuse to prevent damage in case of a power surge or short circuit, an extendable, coiled cord, and an LED power indicator. PodFreq is compatible with all third- and fourth-generation iPods.
Belkin today announced the TuneBase FM, a new all-in-one car solution that allows you to mount, power, charge, and play your iPod mini. The $79.99 product plugs into a cigarette lighter outlet and features a built-in FM transmitter (with four programmable memory slots) for wireless connection to your car stereo. The TuneBase FM, which will begin shipping on November 22, also features an iPod mini holder with a flexible-steel neck that offers easy repositioning. While mounted in the TuneBase FM, your iPod mini charges and plays audio simultaneously. Belkin’s website has yet to be updated with the new product.