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Tune Belt intros Open View Armband for 2G iPod shuffle

Tune Belt has introduced its Open View Armband for the second-generation iPod shuffle. The neoprene armband features a protective clear mylar window and a cord management flap that secures excess earphone cord. The Open View Armband is adjustable to fit arms from 8-18 inches. It sells for $15.

Discovery Channel airs ‘Inside Story of the iPod’

The Discovery Channel has begun airing a documentary chronicling the history of the iPod. “The Inside Story of the iPod” will have its next broadcast at 12:00 p.m. ET today. The Discovery Channel briefly describes the documentary: “The iPod Revolution goes behind the scenes to uncover how Steve Jobs brought Apple back from the grave to create one of the most popular electronics devices ever made: the iPod.”

Nike issues New Year’s Challenge

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, Nike has announced a new feature on its Nike+ website that lets users post challenges to other runners, and the consequences of those challenges if their goals aren’t met.

“Visitors to nikeplus.com can watch runners who did not live up to their challenges bob for lobsters, have their nose hairs plucked and be duct-taped to a bucking mechanical bull named Helga,” says Nike. “Beginning now, runners can issue challenges to themselves and to their friends at nikeplus.com, the Nike+ system which helps track miles, pace, time and calories burned. After January 31st, Nike will begin posting the consequences of those unaccomplished challenges on the site as shared by the runners themselves.”

The most publicized challenge will come from tennis superstar Maria Sharapova and be directed at NBA All-Star LeBron James. If Sharapova runs more miles than James in January, the basketball star will act as a ball boy during a match of Sharapova’s choice. If she fails, the tennis star will serve as James’ personal water girl at a game of his choice.

Mix: Shuffle utility, Apple Stores, Nike+ TV ad, iPad

Apple has released iPod shuffle Reset Utility 1.0.1 for both Mac and Windows. The software restores a first-generation shuffle and fixes several known issues. No information was provided for this small update to the utility.

According to a new report from Bernstein Research, Apple retail stores sell more per square foot than many large retailers. Apple’s stores have brought in annual sales per square foot of $4,032, compared with Best Buy’s $930, Neiman Marcus’ $611, and Tiffany & Co.‘s $2,666.

Nike has begun airing a new TV commercial promoting the Nike+iPod Sport Kit and Nike+ running shoe line. The 30-second features “Here It Goes Again” by OK Go.

A real estate developer in Dubai is planning to build an iPod-inspired residential tower called the iPad. “The 23-story building, which is scheduled to bring more than 200 units onto the market in 2009, was designed by Hong Kong-based architects James Law Cybertecture International. The tower will sit atop a docking station angled at six degrees to give the exact look.”

Mogopop lets users create, download content for iPods

Mogopop has been announced as a new free online service and website that lets users create, publish and download content for iPods. “Mogopop is a free web-based service where members and visitors can create, publish and download multimedia content for iPod,” the company explains. “This content that can incorporate audio, video, pictures, podcasts, text—whatever our members’ minds can imagine, they can create. Mogopop downloads are like mini-Websites for iPod that anyone can enjoy.”

Alive-Style debuts Popalive LCD remote for iPods

Alive-Style has announced the Popalive Remote, a new wireless remote and dock set for iPods. The remote, which features a 1.5-inch color screen and built-in rechargeable battery, allows users to view and navigate the contents of their music folders directly on the Popalive Remote. The remote communicates with the Popalive Dock via bi-directional RF connectivity for use through walls, ceilings and floors. The dock also has mini stereo audio out and S-Video out, and charges a docked iPod. The Popalive Remote works with fourth- and fifth-generation iPods, and is due for release in January 2007 for $149.

Nike profit boosted by Nike+iPod sales

Nike said yesterday that second-quarter profit rose 8.1 percent, helped by its iPod-compatible Nike+ line of running shoes. “Nike+ is turning out to be huge,” Nike CEO Mark Parker said in an earnings conference call. “In less than six months, Nike+ users have logged more than 3 million miles and there are over 3 million Plus-ready shoes in the global marketplace; we expect that number to double by the year end. Clearly our confidence in this concept has proven to be accurate.” Later in the call, Parker said, “Nike+ continues to be extraordinary, and we see that just accelerating as we add more styles to Nike+ over this next six to 12 months.”

Report: iTunes accounts for 90% of paid video downloads

About 1.2 million U.S. households purchased at least one video download from an online store in the third quarter of 2006, according to data from the NPD Group. Of those paid downloads, approximately 90% were bought from Apple’s iTunes Store. Trailing far behind were Vongo (5%), Movielink (3%), and CinemaNow (less than 1%). The paid video downloads were mostly made up of TV Shows (62%), followed by music videos (24%), and mainstream movies (6%). NDP senior analyst Russ Crupnick believes paid downloads “could double or triple within the next year as more content comes online, consumers acquire more video-enabled players and movies are offered that consumers can actually burn to DVD.’‘

Survey: Half of 2007 cars offer iPod integration

According to Telematics Research Group, nearly half of 2007 automobiles offer iPod integration. Calling iPod support “the most sought after feature in cars,” the firm says iPod integration is up from only 12% of vehicles last year. Meanwhile, auxiliary input is supported by nearly 60% of ‘07 models, and MP3 and WMA audio file support will be available on 75% of ‘07 vehicles. During his presentation at Apple’s special “Showtime” event in September, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said approximately 70% of 2007 model year automobiles would offer iPod connectivity.

iTunes Store offers free John (PC Guy) Hodgman audiobook

Apple’s iTunes Store is offering the audiobook version of John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise for free through Christmas. The audiobook normally sells for $18.95. Hodgman plays the “PC” in Apple’s current “Get a Mac” TV ad campaign. His book is “a brilliant and hilarious compendium of handy reference tables, fascinating trivia, and sage wisdom on all topics large and small… a different kind of handy desk reference, one in which all of the historical oddities and amazing true facts are sifted through the singular, illuminating imagination of John Hodgman, which is the nice way of saying: He made it all up.”

Second-generation iPod shuffle, iPod nano sales soaring

According to data from the NPD Group, Apple sold more than twice as many second-generation iPod shuffles in November than it did of the two original models in the same month last year. Sales of the second-generation iPod nano, meanwhile, grew 37% during the same time period compared to sales of last year’s first-generation models. NPD said the new shuffle accounted for 21% of all iPod sales in November, while the new nano made up some 51% of iPods sold. Apple’s updated fifth-generation iPod accounted for 28% of players sold during the month.

Apple job posting points to new iPod Hi-Fi development

According to a recent job posting, Apple appears to be continuing development of its iPod Hi-Fi, possibly planning new models of the speaker system. “iPod Engineering is looking for an Acoustic Engineer who will be responsible for the design and development of many aspects of consumer loudspeaker systems such as Apple’s Hi Fi - including enclosure design, passive and active filter design, transducer design, and design validation,” the job posting reads. The NPD Group reported in September that the iPod Hi-Fi ranks fourth in iPod speaker system market share, behind products from Bose, Logitech and i-Fusion. The Hi-Fi is second only to Bose in revenue share, however.

New at iTunes: Lifetime, Style, The CW, Court TV

Apple’s iTunes Store recently added a slew of programming from cable channels Lifetime, Style, The CW, and Court TV. Lifetime’s shows include Cheerleader Nation, Off The Leash, Lisa Williams: Life Among The Dead, and Lovespring International. The channel is also offering several original Lifetime movies. Style’s programming includes Clean House, Whose Wedding Is It Anyways?, and Split Ends. The CW’s available shows include Supernatural and Veronica Mars. Court TV’s programming consists of Murder by the Book, Beach Patrol: Miami Beach, Body of Evidence, Psychic Detectives, and The Investigators.

BoxWave intros new cases for 2G iPod nano

BoxWave has introduced three new cases for the second-generation iPod nano—the Active Case, Designio Leather Case and Designio Leather Sleeve. The Active Case ($15) is a crystal-clear hard plastic case with access to all controls. The Designio Leather Case ($30) is made from premium grade black leather and has a padded front cover with strap closure. The Designio Leather Sleeve ($26) is a slim leather case with Click Wheel cut-out. It’s available in pink or black, with or without a belt clip.

EA releases Sudoku, Royal Solitaire for iPod

Two new games—Sudoku and Royal Solitaire—have been released by Electronic Arts for the fifth-generation iPod. Based on the internationally successful Japanese grid number matching game, Sudoku is a 25.1MB download. Royal Solitaire features “10 of the most popular and well-known versions of Solitaire,” including Canfield, Klondike, Peaks, Pyramid, Beleaguered Castle, Aces Up, Yukon, FreeCell, Golf, and Scorpion. A 45.6MB download, it promises to allow you to track your own statistics, and those from “other players around the world.”

Both titles are available from the iTunes Store for United States, United Kingdom, and certain other European customers; at present, they do not appear to be universally available in international stores. As of press time, Japanese customers can see Royal Solitaire but not Sudoku, while other iTunes Stores such as Canada have neither title available.

iFrogz debuts new cases for 2G iPod nano

iFrogz has introduced new clear and color silicone cases for the second-generation iPod nano. Each clear case features a colored iFrogz logo on the back in one of five colors (black, pink, green, blue, and clear) to match the new nanos. The color case comes in several colors, including hot pink, light pink, royal blue, light blue, green, purple, white, red, black, and gray. Both cases sell for $20 each and come with a lanyard. Check out iLounge’s First Look at the clear iFrogz nano cases for hands-on photos and details.

Juniper Visa Card with iTunes Rewards offered

Apple has teamed up with Juniper to offer the Juniper Visa Card with iTunes Rewards. The credit card lets you earn points with every purchase that can be cashed in for iTunes gift cards. “Now you can order the Mac system of your dreams, your favorite iPod, or anything else from the Apple Store today and pay no interest on your purchase for up to 90 days. Plus you’ll earn iTunes rewards points with every purchase,” says Apple. “You’ll earn two iTunes points for every dollar you spend at any Apple Store (online, retail, or by phone), one point for ever dollar you spend everywhere else—wherever Visa is accepted. When you reach 2,500 points, we’ll send you a $25 iTunes card good for music, videos, and more from the iTunes Store.” [via TUAW]

Linksys, not Apple, launches iPhone

The iPhone was announced today—but not by Apple. In an apparent attempt to take advantage of the recent hype surrounding the “iPhone” name, Cisco’s Linksys division has introduced a new line of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones under the iPhone brand. The wireless phones are designed to work with online services such as Skype and Yahoo! Messenger. “The iPhone family of handheld devices harnesses the power of the Internet to enhance voice communications, integrate compelling information services, and deliver access to multimedia,” the company said. Everyone from consumers to industry analysts have referred to Apple’s long-rumored iPod-based cell phone as the “iPhone.” Cisco has owned the trademark on the iPhone brand since 2000 following the acquisition of Infogear.

Mix: iSmoothie, SEC filing, The Core, iTunes Japan

Blendtec’s latest “Will It Blend?” viral video features a fourth-generation iPod getting blended by one the company’s powerful home blenders.

Apple has delayed filing its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission due to its ongoing investigation into stock option grants. Apple was unable to file its 10-K Form by the required filing date of Dec. 14 because it needs to restate historical financial statements.

HandStands has introduced The Core, a new cable management accessory that helps users keep headphone cables in check. It’s priced at $5.

JBox.com is selling iTunes Japan Gift Cards, which allow users from around the world to buy music from the store without needing a credit card with a Japanese billing address. A 1500 yen card, worth just under US$13, costs $18 at the site. A 3000 yen card, worth closer to $25, costs US$35. [via TUAW]

iMainGo combines iPod case, speaker system

Portable Sound Laboratories has introduced the iMainGo, a new combination iPod case and portable speaker system. The iMainGo (iLounge Rating: C+) consists of a black, zippered case with iPod pocket and a “state-of-the-art digital amplifier” with “high output stereo speakers.” The $70 case offers built-in air cushions, inserts to fit several iPod models, and has a protective play-through window. The iMainGo requires four AAA batteries, which last up to 30 hours.

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