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Mix: iMVNO, Detroit Pistons, Video sales, iPaperCraft

UBS analyst John Hodulik believes Apple is going to start its own MVNO service, buying wholesale capacity from Cingular, for its rumored iPhone. “If followed, this strategy would appear to indicate Apple’s increasing desire for customer control, and potentially, store traffic. We believe if volume had been the most important variable, Apple would work with all the major vendors in the U.S. to support its new iPod phone (iPhone), enabling it to target the heart of the 225 million domestic wireless users.”

The Detroit Pistons are selling an iPod shuffle clone with the team’s logo on it. The $25 player has 128MB of storage and comes pre-loaded with a message from Lindsey Hunter and National City Bank. Proceeds from the sales of the player will go to the Detroit Medical Center to benefit Breast Cancer Prevention.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, online videos will become a billion-dollar business in 2007. While video download sales made through the iTunes Store and other sources will total just $298 million this year, the firm predicts that by the end of 2007 the market will grow to $1.5 billion. is an online service that generates free papercraft iPod covers for every model on the market. “Upload an image and the script prints fold/cut lines over the image. Print out the resulting PDF and you’ve got yourself a custom iPod cover.”

CNBC: Apple may sell 17 million iPods in holiday quarter [updated]

According to CNBC’s latest Holiday Central survey, some 8% of those polled expect to buy an iPod this holiday shopping season. That means Apple could see sales of about 17 million units during its fourth quarter with revenue of $2.7 billion. The CNBC survey also found that 20% of those surveyed currently own an iPod, while 70% do not currently own an iPod and do not plan to buy one. In other gadgets, the survey shows 3% of those polled plan to buy a Nintendo Wii or Sony PlayStation 3 (6.3 million units each) and 2% have their eyes on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 (4.2 million units).

Update: Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster is expecting iPod sales of 15.5 million to 16 million units for the holiday quarter. “Our analysis of iPod unit data from NPD for the months of October and November leads us to expect iPod shipments in the range of 15.5m-16m for the Dec-06 quarter (our model calls for 14.7m iPods in the quarter and Street consensus is 15.0m),” Munster says in a research note today. “The 15.5m-16m unit range is based on various assumptions and is an extrapolation of two months of data, so we believe investors should supplement this data point with other information.”

PodsPlus offers TopSkin case for 2G iPod shuffle

PodsPlus has announced a new version of its TopSkin silicone case for the second-generation iPod shuffle. Precision molded to tightly fit the shuffle, the skin features play-through control and comes in four colors. The TopSkin is available immediately in a 3-pack of black, white, and blue cases or a 3-pack of black, white, and pink.

Apple denies iTunes sales slide

Apple has denied a report that iTunes Store sales fell by 65% in the first half of 2006. According to a recent survey by research group Forrester, the number of monthly iTunes transactions declined 58% from January to June of this year, while the average size per purchase declined by 17%, leading to a 65% overall drop in monthly iTunes revenue. Apple said the report is “simply incorrect,” but will not provide specific iTunes sales data. Forrester said it was too soon to say whether its findings showed that buyers were “reaching their saturation level for digital music.” The research firm got its figures by analyzing 2,791 U.S. iTunes debit and credit card purchases made by members of its consumer panel.

Cambridge SoundWorks intros PlayDock iPod speaker system

Creative Technology subsidiary Cambridge SoundWorks today announced the PlayDock i, a new docking speaker system for iPods. The PlayDock i features Cambridge’s high-performance drivers, integrated powered subwoofer, a charging iPod dock, a video-out connector for photos and videos, and can run on AC or battery power. The magnetically shielded system also comes with a remote control and has a built-in handle, line-in connector and headphone jack. Designed for 4G and 5G iPods, the iPod mini and iPod nano, the PlayDock i will be available in January for $200.

Apple posts iTunes Store Best of 2006 charts

Apple has posted its 2006 year-end iTunes charts, revealing the 100 most downloaded albums and songs on the iTunes Store in the U.S. The No. 1 album for the year on iTunes was The Fray’s “How To Save A Life,” while Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” was the top track of the year. Below are the 10 most downloaded albums and tracks in the U.S. on iTunes for 2006. Apple said that iTunes top 100 download charts are also being released for all 20 countries where iTunes has had a store for a year or more. 

Top 10 Albums
1. Fray - How To Save A Life
2. John Mayer - Continuum
3. Jack Johnson & Friends - Curious George
4. James Blunt - Back To Bedlam
5. Justin Timberlake - Futuresex/Love Sounds
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
7. Dixie Chicks - Taking The Long Way
8. High School Musical - Soundtrack
9. Panic! At The Disco - Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
10. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

Top 10 Tracks
1. Daniel Powter - Bad Day
2. Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
3. James Blunt - You’re Beautiful
4. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
5. Sean Paul - Temperature
6. Justin Timberlake - Sexyback
7. The Fray- Over My Head (Cable Car)
8. Shakira - Hips Don’t Lie
9. Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
10. Chamillionaire - Ridin’

Matias debuts Color Armor case for 2G iPod nano

Matias has introduced its Color Armor aluminum case for the second-generation iPod nano. Available in six colors, the case features a hard plastic screen protector, neoprene lining, optional neck strap and belt clip, and access to all controls and ports. The silver case sells for $30, while the black, blue, pink, green, and red cases sell for $35. Matias said it will donate $5 for each red Armor case it sells to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, dedicated to easing the pain of HIV/AIDS in Africa.


iBuzz maker threatened with legal action by Apple

Love Labs, maker of a music-activated iPod sex toy called the iBuzz, claims to have received a letter from Apple’s legal team over the use of silhouette images on the iBuzz website. “Our client owns the copyright in all the images used in its ‘Silhouette’ advertising campaign and actively polices its rights in order to protect itself and its consumers,” Apple lawyers reportedly said in its letter. “Certain images used on your website ( may have been copied or substantially copied from those in which our client own the copyright, without our client’s consent. Your use of such images amounts to copyright infringement… Apple remains hopeful that this matter can be resolved quickly and amicably. Naturally, if your co-operation is not forthcoming, our client’s approach will not be so flexible.”

Vaja debuts new case lineup for 2G iPod nano

Vaja has announced its new lineup of cases for Apple’s second-generation iPod nano. The company is now offering four models for the new nano—the i-Volution Holster ($30), the i-Volution with Hook ($45), the Classic ($34), and the Classic Top ($40). Fashioned from high-quality Argentine leather, the cases come in a rainbow of standard colors and “1,000+ possible color combinations.” The new Vaja cases for the 2G nano can also be personalized with an embossed name or logo. They are all available for immediate ordering.

Mix: iPods in Space, Songs per iPod, Best Buy, Shuffle tutorial

A new photo from Expedition 14 at the International Space Station shows what appears to be a fourth-generation iPod and a Belkin external battery pack.

The New York Times is the latest to compare iPod sales to iTunes music sales. With nearly 70 million iPods sold as of September, and over 1.5 billion songs sold from iTunes, an estimated 22 songs have been sold for every iPod.

Police in Florida are investigating the disappearance of more than $35,000 worth of iPods from a Best Buy store. “A preliminary investigation revealed that there has not been a break-in or forced entry to the store, leading police and store managers to believe that the thefts could be an inside job.”

Apple has updated its iPod+iTunes support site with an interactive tutorial to show users how to download and listen to music on a new second-generation iPod shuffle.

2007 Best of Show: Call for Submissions

Two trade shows in January, 2007 - the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and Macworld Expo in San Francisco - are expected to see the introduction of hundreds of new iPod accessories. As always, iLounge will be spotlighting the best product introductions for our readers, giving you a preview of what’s coming up in the brand new year, and issuing Awards to the cream of the crop.

If you represent an iPod accessory manufacturer who will be formally exhibiting new products at your own CES or Macworld Expo booth, and would like to have your new products considered for one of a limited number of iLounge 2007 Best of Show Awards, please contact jeremy (at) immediately for product submission details. While we have already contacted the vast majority of the industry’s participants on this subject via e-mail, this public notice is intended to make sure that any other qualified company’s products have an opportunity to be considered, as well. Best of luck, and we’re looking forward to seeing you in January!

Please note: Our deadline is December 16, 2006, and only previously unreleased products are eligible for Best of Show consideration.

Fatman iTube gets bundled speakers

Bluebird Music has announced the availability of its new Fatman iTube Valve Dock with speakers from TL Audio. The Fatman iTube with speakers bundle ($750) consists of a tube amplifier, iPod docking station and a pair of TL Audio loudspeakers. “Unlike the ‘boom-box’ design of typical docking station music players, the iTube is a real, audiophile-class stereo which delivers the highest level of fidelity of any iPod-specific system currently available,” says the company. The iTube has two audio inputs, a headphone jack and video output. It’s compatible with all iPods except the shuffle, and comes with a remote control.

New chip type may replace flash memory, disk drives

A group of companies led by IBM have announced a new chip technology, dubbed phase-change memory, that could someday replace flash memory and tiny hard-disk drives in portable devices. InfoWorld reports: “The companies on Monday announced the results of their latest research into the technology, which they say will do a better job of storing songs, pictures, and other data on iPods and digital cameras than current flash memory, and could someday replace disk drives. Among the advances, the companies have built a prototype device that runs 500 times faster than today’s flash memory while using half as much power to write data to a memory cell, they said.”

PRM offers Opticover protection for 2G iPod nano

Pacific Rim Marketing (PRM) has announced the Opticover Screen/Click Wheel Protector and Opticover Full Body Wrap Protector for Apple’s second-generation iPod nano. Made from aerospace polyurethane, the thin, clear film protects the nano from scratches and leaves no adhesive residue when removed. The Screen/Click Wheel protector ($9) covers the most vulnerable parts of the new nano, while the Full Body Wrap ($15) provides protective coverage of the front, back and sides of the nano.

Study: One-third of U.S. teens own iPods

According to a new study released this week, one-third of American teens own an iPod, up from only 1 percent in 2003. The Harrison Group’s 2006 Teen Trends study surveyed 1,000 Americans aged 13 to 18 on their thoughts and habits. The study also found that 75 percent of teens spend two or three hours a day downloading or listening to music online, with half of those teens saying that downloading music for free is illegal. The study also reported that more than half own Sony’s PlayStation 2, and one-third own an original Microsoft Xbox. An estimated 68 percent of teens have created pages on social networks like MySpace, Xanga or Facebook.

[via MDN]

Apple: iPod failure rate ‘extremely low’

In a Wall Street Journal article about consumers becoming more familiar with dying iPods, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said the iPod failure rate is less than 5%, which he claims is “extremely low” compared with other electronics devices. “iPods are designed to last for years, but as with any complex consumer-electronics product such as digital cameras, they can be broken if dropped or mishandled by users,” he said. The “overwhelming majority” of iPod users are happy with their devices, said Dowling. Dead iPods are considered to be devices with bad batteries, cracked screens or malfunctioning hard disks.

The Journal’s Nick Wingfield reports: “Even if only a tiny percentage of iPods malfunction, the huge popularity of the devices means a significant number of users could be affected. Apple has sold nearly 70 million iPods in the five years since the product first went on sale. If just under 5% of that number failed, that could still amount to millions of affected devices. Apple declined to comment on the specific number of iPods that have failed… The iPod’s durability could become a more important issue as consumers become less dazzled by cutting-edge technology and more concerned about longevity, especially for a device that can cost hundreds of dollars”

[via Gizmodo]

mStation ships Orb in new colors

As promised, mStation today announced that it has begun shipping its 2.1 Stereo Orb in new colors to compliment the new iPod nano lineup. The mStation Orb models are available in pink, green, blue, and silver, as well as the original black and white. The $130 iPod speaker system (iLounge Rating: B) offers 30 watts of power, a built-in charging iPod dock, a 3-inch dedicated subwoofer, and a 10-key remote.

Brookstone offers iPod-compatible speaker systems

Brookstone is offering two iPod-compatible speaker systems—the Podz Rechargeable Wireless Speakers ($180) and the OnStage Music System ($150). The Podz system uses 900 MHz technology that transmits audio up to 150 feet through walls and floors. Each speaker has a full-range 3-inch driver, and the speakers have built-in rechargeable batteries and automatically tune to the optimal frequency. The OnStage speaker system (shown) features an all-in-one design with two mini full-range speakers. It has a built-in, charging iPod dock, wireless remote control, and a 3.5mm input jack for use with other MP3 players.

Griffin intros iClear, Disko cases for 2G iPod nano

Griffin Technology today announced that its iClear and Disko cases are now available for the second-generation iPod nano. The iClear case ($20) features a two-piece shell design with crystal-clear polycarbonate protection. It offers screen protection and has an opening for the click wheel. The Disko case ($30) senses movement and responds with colored lights that blink and flash in moving patterns around the click wheel. The Disko case comes in black and clear. Both cases will be available in stores for the holidays.

Rivet intros Combo Pack for iPod nanos

Rivet International has announced the nano Combo Pack, an iPod nano accessory set that includes an earphone lanyard and a protective case. Compatible with first- and second-generation iPod nanos, the Combo Pack features Rivet’s redesigned GRAB case with belt clip and the company’s RHYTHM earphones with integrated lanyard. The earphones are available in black, gray, pink or white, and come with three sizes of earbud gel tips. The nano Combo Pack is priced at $50.

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