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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.

CBS revives namesake music label, strikes iTunes deal

CBS Corp. today announced that it will revive its CBS Records music label. In unveiling the new entity, CBS said it will make songs, music videos and other content from CBS Records available for purchase and download at the iTunes Store. “The new CBS Records aims to tap unsigned musicians who write and perform their own songs that will be used and promoted on prime-time TV shows,” reports Reuters. “The strategy helps CBS reduce licensing fees for using music from other labels on its shows. Owning the music also makes negotiating Internet video deals for CBS shows less complicated and more profitable.”  In addition to the iTunes Store, the music will be offered through CBSRecords.com.

comScore: iTunes revenue surges 84% in 2006

comScore Networks today reported that revenue from Apple’s iTunes Store rose by 84% during the first three quarters of 2006 versus the same period a year ago. “As Mark Twain might have said, the rumors of iTunes’ death have been greatly exaggerated,” said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore. “In contrast to a recent research report indicating that iTunes sales have declined by 65 percent, comScore data show that iTunes sales actually grew 84 percent during the first three quarters of 2006 versus year ago.” The research firm also said that there was a 67% increase in the number of iTunes transactions and a 10% increase in the dollars spent per transaction in the same time period. Further, comScore analysis showed that the number of iTunes customers also increased. The iTunes Store attracted 20.8 million unique visitors in November 2006, up 85 percent from November 2005

Marware intros USB Travel Dock for 2G iPod shuffle

Marware has announced the USB Travel Dock for Apple’s second-generation iPod shuffle. The device allows you to charge and sync the new shuffle while “causing no interference with adjacent ports, so you can prominently display your new 2G iPod shuffle right next to your laptop screen.” The lightweight dock provides up to 480 Mbps data transfer via USB and sports a blue “Power On” LED indicator. Marware’s USB Travel Dock costs $20 and will begin shipping in January.

DLO debuts Power Bug, Action Jacket for 2G iPod shuffle

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced two new products for the second-generation iPod shuffle—the DLO Power Bug AC Power Adapter and Dock Cable ($23) and the DLO Action Jacket Workout Armband and Case ($20). The Power Bug allows you to charge the new shuffle from any AC wall outlet. It also comes with an extra dock cable for syncing a shuffle with iTunes. The Action Jacket for iPod shuffle is a protective armband with a cushioned case that provides access to the player’s controls while in the case/armband.

Mila Bikini iPod cases announced

Pacific Design has announced the Mila Bikini Skin Collection for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod and first- and second-generation iPod nanos. The $20 cases, which offer a “fun bikini shape,” sport a built-in crystal-clear polyurethane screen protector, a connection point system that “allows you to attach your iPod to virtually anything,” and a bottom cover that can be flipped back to create a stand. The Mila Bikini cases offer full access to all controls and ports, and ship with a neck lanyard and removable earbud cord takeup reel.

Analyst: Metal iPhone to sport 3.5” LCD, up to $649 price tag

The latest iPhone speculation comes from Morgan Stanley’s Rebecca Runkle. The analyst said yesterday she has “high conviction” that the rumored iPhone will launch in the first half of 2007. “We expect Steve Jobs to announce the iPhone at Macworld Expo or early next year,” she wrote. Citing unnamed sources, Runkle said the iPhone will cost $599 for a 4GB model and $649 for an 8GB model. The analyst said the phone will be wider than the iPod nano but thinner than the fifth-generation iPod, and will sport a 3.5 inch LCD screen. Runkle also said the phone will have a metal casing and will be available in multiple colors including at least black, white and silver.

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.

iPaperCraft.com 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.

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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 (www.ibuzz.co.uk) 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) ilounge.com 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.”

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