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Coke, Apple to give away 70 million songs in Europe

Coca-Cola and Apple will launch a European iTunes promotion this month, giving away 70 million songs in the UK and Germany. “The alliance with Apple signals an end to the group’s ambition to develop its own presence in the online music market,” reports the Financial Times. “The company launched its own music download site—MyCokeMusic—in Europe in 2004 but the service was closed this month amid fierce competition from iTunes and others… Apple declined to say whether its deal with Coke could be extended to the US and elsewhere or whether it precluded further promotions with Pepsi.” The talks between Coke and Apple were first reported in June.

Pod Safe locking iPod security case announced

Secure-It has introduced the Pod Safe, a new locking iPod security case that “prevents theft or loss while commuting, traveling, at school, at the gym, on the beach, in the office, or practically anywhere that you listen to your iPod.” The Pod Safe is made of a PolyCarbon-strengthened ABS material and features a resettable four-digit combination lock with vinyl coated steel security cable to secure your iPod. The Pod Safe is available in either black or white finishes for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. Both cases sell for $40 each.

Apple responds to Scandinavian iTunes DRM complaints

Apple has replied to criticism of its iTunes DRM (digital rights management) policy, meeting the August 1st deadline set by consumer rights agencies in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Consumer Council of Norway said it is still reviewing the letter—which could determine the future of the iTunes Music Store in the three Scandinavian countries—and hasn’t yet released it to the public. The Norwegian council was the first to file a complaint with Apple, requesting that the company make changes to its iTunes Music Store terms of agreement and to defend its DRM policy. The council said Apple violates the Norwegian Copyright Act because iTunes-purchased songs can’t be played on other devices. Consumer rights agencies in Denmark and Sweden followed suit.

iSoundCap for iPod nano, shuffle announced

The iSoundCap is a baseball-style cap designed to hold an iPod nano or iPod shuffle. “The ingenuity of this cap places the iPod so that there are no wires hanging below the head,” says the maker of the iSoundCap. “Whether enjoying your music while being physically active or just relaxing, the wires will never get in your way and the iPod is safely tucked away. The design is extremely user friendly, allowing for easy access as well as control over the iPod during any activity.” The iSoundCap is priced at $30.

Analyst: PortalPlayer likely to power next video iPod

Wedbush Morgan analyst Craig Berger believes that PortalPlayer will be the multimedia chip supplier in the next-generation video iPod, despite the company recently losing the iPod nano business. “It is possible that PortalPlayer will retain its socket in the soon-to-be-released Video iPod given Apple’s design schedule constraints, likely Video iPod device processing requirements, and the execution risk Apple faces should it change processor suppliers,” Berger said. “We believe nVidia’s and Broadcom’s video processing solutions are probably not well suited to drive both the video processing, audio processing, and applications processing within the Video iPod. Also, a new operating system would have to be written and debugged very quickly. Finally, we think that any savings in battery life is minimal versus the current solution. We still believe Apple is focused on delivering best-of-breed products with cutting edge features, and is not overly focused on cost reduction for its high end products.”

CNN, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim shows now on iTunes

Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) and Apple have announced that programming from CNN, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim is now available on the iTunes Music Store. The new content includes episodes of the award-winning documentary series “CNN Presents,” Cartoon Network’s “Johnny Bravo,” and Adult Swim’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “The Venture Bros.” and “Sealab 2021.” Like all other TV shows on iTunes, the TBS offerings are priced at $1.99 per episode.

iLive debuts iPod speaker system lineup

imageiLive has announced that its first collection of iPod products are now available. The iLive lineup includes four new home and portable iPod speaker systems that range in price from $70 to $160. The systems are available in black or white and feature built-in iPod docks, stereo speakers, and wireless remotes.

The IHMD8816DT (1) is a large, bookshelf unit that features a draw-load DVD/CD player, AM/FM radio, subwoofers, and more. The IHMD816DT (2) is a tube-shaped portable audio system that adds a slot-loading CD player, radio, and two side-firing subwoofers. The ICR6806DT (3) is a clock radio-style system, featuring a sleep timer and alarm functions. The ISPK2806 (4) is a smaller system offering basic features.

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Mix: Tony Blair, Chocolate, iBrella, Digital releases

British Prime Minister Tony Blair traveled to California’s Silicon Valley this weekend to meet with tech leaders, including Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Blair was “on a mission to find out the secrets of the U.S. high-tech sector’s success and apply the lessons in Britain.”

Verizon Wireless and LG have launched a new music phone to compete with the iPod. The LG Chocolate phone features a touch-button interface, 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth and a MicroSD card slot. Verizon is also eliminating the monthly $15 fee for its music download service.

Audible extends iTunes Music Store partnership

Audible today announced that it will continue to offer downloadable audiobooks and spoken word content exclusively through the iTunes Music Store. “Audible.com customers will continue to be able to use their iPods and iTunes software to download and manage their audible.com audio, and Audible will continue to exclusively supply the iTunes Music Store with its more than 16,000 audiobooks and other book-related content,” the company said. “Audible will also continue to supply iTunes with a consistent flow of other programming from audible.com’s vast collection of comedy, paid podcasts, lectures, speeches, radio programs, language instruction, children’s stories, religious programs, and dramatic performances.”

iPod helps eMusic take No. 2 spot in digital music sales

The popularity of the iPod and eMusic’s unprotected MP3 files have helped the company quietly move into second place behind iTunes in digital music sales. Even though eMusic lacks hits from the four major labels and only offers independent music, the company is beating rivals thanks to its ability to sell DRM-free, iPod-compatible songs. “There’s no question the iPod success has worked in our favor,” said eMusic CEO David Pakman. “The consumer confusion over interoperable formats gives us a great advantage.” Napster, Real Rhapsody, and Yahoo Music have floundered in part because of the iPod-incompatible copy-protection technology used on their songs. According to data from the NPD Group, iTunes leads the market with 67%, followed by eMusic with 11%, Real Rhapsody with 4%, Napster with 4% and MSN Music 3%.

Forums: iLounge Nike+ challenge now open

In this latest look at the iLounge Discussion Forums: a member has thrown down the virtual gauntlet to other readers of the forums to compete in a virtual race, then share their results from Apple Computer’s Nike + iPod Sport Kit.

Up to 50 members can join in and the suggested challenges are Fastest 1 Mile, Fastest 5k/ 10k, and Most Miles Over Two Weeks. Feel up to a challenge or just want to have a bit of fun with fellow iLoungers? Read the invitation here.

Newly added: more headlines, less effort

This weekend, we’ve added something new to the site’s main page: more headlines from the site’s top stories, loaded automatically at the top of the page. Previously, if you hit the “refresh” button on your browser, up to eight different top stories would load at the top of the iLounge home page. Now all of the top stories will load and briefly display, one after another, giving you the chance to see what’s new and exciting without having to reload the page.

If something catches your eye, just move your cursor over it to stop it from being replaced with a new headline. And of course, clicking on any of the stories will load a brand new page with additional details. We hope you enjoy this new feature!

French council strikes down parts of controversial ‘iPod law’

The French Constitutional Council has declared major portions of the so-called “iPod law” unconstitutional, according to the New York Times. The council’s 12-page legal finding on the controversial interoperability law “made frequent reference to the 1789 Declaration on Human Rights and concluded that the law violated the constitutional protections of property,” according to the report. “In particular, the council eliminated reduced fines for file sharing and said companies could not be forced, without compensation, to make music sold online compatible with any music device.”

Apple denies ‘four years’ iPod report, clarifies ‘for years’

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris has confirmed to iLounge that she was misquoted in a Chicago Tribune article on failing iPods published earlier this week. The article had quoted her as saying that iPods have a low failure rate and that they are designed to last four years. Kerris said she told the reporter that the iPod was designed to last “for years”—not “four years.” The Tribune has yet to correct its original report.

Microsoft: Zune requires large investment, won’t pay off soon

Microsoft says that its upcoming Zune media player will require “hundreds of millions” of dollars to develop and market, but that the investment will not pay off immediately for the company. “It is something that is going to take time,” said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices group. “This is not a six-month investment time horizon,” he said, adding that it may take three, four or five years for the project to succeed. Bach also said that his Microsoft group—which includes the Xbox, smartphones and Zune products—sees at least another year of losses. “Fiscal ‘07 will be a loss. We think that turns to profit in 08,” said Bach.

GINI debuts iTube speaker system, iConec dock

GINI Systems has introduced its new iProducts line, which initially includes a tube-based 2.1 speaker system and an iPod docking station. “Together, they form a complete iPod audio system that instantly converts digital tunes into music with ‘tube warmth’ that audiophiles have come to know and enjoy,” says GINI. The iTube speaker system ($379) combines vacuum tube and solid-state audio technologies, and features an iPod-like design, an amplifier with a built-in subwoofer, a pair of satellite speakers, and a remote control. GINI’s iConec ($79) iPod docking station features component and S-video output, a full function remote control, built-in charging, and five iPod adapters.

PortalPlayer CEO to step down

iPod chip maker PortalPlayer has announced that company CEO Gary Johnson plans to resign by the end of the year. “My true passion is in leading companies through their initial rapid growth,” said Johnson. “When I joined PortalPlayer, the company had one product and very limited cash. Today, it has several design teams working on products for three major personal multimedia player markets and nearly $200 million in cash… I feel that it is time for me to pursue other opportunities where I can again be instrumental in the early stages of a company’s growth.” The move comes a little more than three months after the company said its chips would not be used in some of Apple’s flash-based iPods.

Target stores offer collectible iTunes gift cards

Special limited edition iTunes Gift Cards featuring popular bands and artists are now being sold at participating Target stores. Collectible cards featuring Jewel, Kanye West, James Blunt, Mariah Carey, Hoobastank, Dixie Chicks, and Panic at the Disco have custom artwork and provide access to exclusive bonus material on the iTunes Music Store. Six other cards featuring Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige, 50 cent, All American Rejects, Black-Eyed Peas, and Weezer offer only custom artwork. Each card is redeemable for $15 worth of iTunes merchandise. “Collect all thirteen cards or give them to your favorite fan,” says Apple.

ATO readying High-definition video add-on for iPod

ATO plans to introduce a new version of its iSee video player that will be capable of playing high-definition video. Like the company’s original iSee 360 (shown right), the forthcoming device will feature a sleeve-like form factor, built-in LCD display, and the ability to play videos stored on an iPod’s hard drive. ATO said the HD player will be compatible with MPEG 4, Divx, HD.264 and other video formats. It is expected to sell for approximately $199 to $250, and will be released within the next five months, according to the company.

E! television programs now on iTunes Music Store

E! Entertainment and Apple have announced that select E! television shows are now available on the iTunes Music Store. The new programming includes the second season of “The Girls Next Door,” new episodes of “The Soup,” new and past episodes of “Dr. 90210,” and new episodes of “The Simple Life: ‘Til Death Do Us Part.” Like other shows on iTunes, each episode is priced at $1.99.

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