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Philips debuts new iPod-ready speaker systems

imagePhilips has introduced two new iPod-compatible speaker systems as part of its “Holidays in June” product launch. “At a time when consumers applaud multi-tasking and innovation, Philips’ new micro systems combine home entertainment with mobility to provide the best of both worlds,” says the company.

The Philips MCM118D Micro System ($99; August 2006) offers 30W of total power and features a docking station that works with iPods and Philips portable GoGear players. The unit comes with a remote control and will be available in black or white.

imageThe Philips MCM275D Micro System ($129; October 2006) is a silver wall-mountable system that features a built-in CD player with a front motorized disc door. The system also features a charging iPod dock, FM radio, sleep timer, USB connections, and remote control.

Analysts lower iPod sales estimates

Two Wall Street analysts today lowered their iPod sales estimates for Apple’s current quarter. Merrill Lynch analyst Richard Farmer cut his iPod estimate to 8.1 million units from 9.2 million units based on historical sales data. Farmer lowered full-year sales estimates to 39.4 million from 43.4 million units. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu also lowered his estimates today, despite what he says is a strong reception to Apple’s recent back-to-school Mac-iPod promotion. Wu slightly reduced his iPod unit forecast to 8.3 million from 8.5 million. “We are seeing weaker iPod nano shipments (we believe in part due to Apple consciously drawing down inventory) offset by strength in vPods and iPod shuffle,” Wu said. “We continue to believe the iPod nano is in need of a refresh and will likely see one in the September quarter.”

Report: Apple to unveil iPod with ‘none-touch’ technology

Apple is set to introduce its next generation iPod, according to a high-ranking executive from the company’s Asian manufacturing partner, Hon Hai Precision. Bloomberg News reports that at an annual meeting this week in Taiwan, Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou said Apple is about to unveil a new iPod using a “none-touch” concept. Gou did not elaborate further, though he said he expects the company’s revenue to grow at least an average of 30 percent in the next five years based on rising orders from Apple and Sony. Hon Hai owns the Foxconn iPod factories in China, which are at the center of recent labor abuse claims.

Apple cuts iPod nano, Hi-Fi prices in UK

Apple has slightly lowered iPod nano and iPod Hi-Fi pricing in the UK. Apple has cut prices by £10 on all three nano models—the 1GB nano now costs £99, the 2GB model is £129 and the 4GB nano is £169. The price of the iPod HiFi was dropped from £249 to £229. Apple UK also cut £50-£100 off iMac models, and £50 off its Mac mini line.

Scandinavian groups extend Apple’s iTunes deadline

Consumer rights protection agencies in Denmark, Norway and Sweden have extended Apple’s June 21st deadline to respond to concerns over the iTunes terms of service. The company now has until August 1st to address the complaints. “The consumer agencies in the three countries last week wrote to Apple alleging that customers had to relinquish fundamental rights such as the right to freely use legally bought products in order to download music from iTunes,” reports Reuters. “In the letter, the Scandinavian agencies claim Apple’s standard customer contract violated Norwegian law and were clearly unbalanced, disadvantaging the customer.”

Apple taking orders for Nike + iPod Sport Kit

Apple has begun accepting pre-orders for the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, which was announced late last month. The $29 system consists of a wireless shoe sensor and iPod nano receiver that allow users to record and track workout information such as time, distance, calories burned and pace. Apple states on its website that the Nike + iPod Sport Kit will ship in 4-5 weeks. The first Nike+ shoes designed to work with the kit are expected to start shipping in July. [via TUAW]

Mix: iCheating, Toilet issues, Breakout quarter, Apple fine

Schools in Alberta, Canada have banned students from listening to iPods during exams. “You can record stuff onto your iPod,” said Ben Heshka, a 12th grade student. “Like just read out your notes and just record it as a song and just listen to it. That’s been known to happen.”

A pink iPod mini that was dropped down a toilet by a Santa Clara University student has finally been removed from the university’s drain system after months of efforts. One maintenance worker called the device “indestructible” after trying to clear it from the pipes.

MusicGremlin takes on iPod with wireless player, music service

MusicGremlin today launched an innovative new wireless digital audio player and music download service. The company’s $300 Gremlin device can connect to nearly any Wi-Fi network and download songs from MusicGremlin’s store directly to the player—without the use of a computer. Like iTunes, individual tracks are priced at 99 cents each. The company also offers a subscription plan, which lets customers download an unlimited number of MusicGremlin’s 2 million songs for $15 per month. In addition, two Gremlin owners can share music wirelessly if they are both subscribers. The Gremlin player features an 8GB hard drive, FM receiver, 2-inch color LCD screen, and up to 10 hours of battery life.

ITC launches probe in Creative vs. Apple patent dispute

Creative Technology said today that the U.S. International Trade Commission has voted to launch an investigation into whether Apple’s iPod infringes on Creative’s U.S. Patent 6,928,433, which the company refers to as the “Zen Patent.” Creative filed the complaint with the ITC last month alongside a patent lawsuit against Apple. The company alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the importation of iPods into the U.S., which Creative claims infringe on its patent. Creative is requesting the blockage of iPod shipments into the country.

Apple responds to iPod ‘sweatshop’ claims

Apple has responded to the recent claims of poor working conditions at iPod factories in China, stating that it takes the allegations seriously and that it is looking into the charges. “Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible,” Apple said in a statement. The company said it is “currently investigating the allegations regarding working conditions in the iPod manufacturing plant in China. We do not tolerate any violations of our supplier code of conduct which are posted online.”

Intempo offers spherical iPod speaker (Updated)

Intempo recently introduced the iDS-02, a new spherical 2.1 speaker system for iPods. The iDS-02 features a built-in iPod dock, 2 x 7.5 watt stereo speakers and 15 watt subwoofer, a remote control, USB and Firewire connectivity, and a 3.5 mm line-in port for connecting other audio devices. “The compact iDS-02 surround-sound system packs in the latest technology to deliver great volume, plenty of detail and excellent bass response,” says the company. “Its sleek design and smooth lines will look great wherever you use it.” The iDS-02 is available in white or black for $250. [via Gizmodo]

Updated: Intempo will sell the iDS-02 in the United Kingdom only; it is the same product as mStation’s Orb, previously covered on iLounge.

GEAR4 intros X-Clip Sports Armband

GEAR4 has announced the X-Clip Sports Armband, the latest addition to its X-Clip collection of iPod accessories. The X-Clip Sports Armband includes a cushioned and adjustable armband for the iPod nano, a detachable protective case, and a weatherproof “RainJacket” cover. It also comes with a cable management clip, two-piece protective film for the nano, reflective strips, belt clip and lanyard. The X-Clip Sports Armband, which is priced at $29, is compatible with a number of GEAR4’s interchangeable X-Clip accessories.

H2O Audio ships waterproof housing for 5G iPods

H2O Audio today announced that its new waterproof and impact-resistant housing for the fifth-generation iPod is now shipping. The new H2O Audio housing is submersible up to 10 ft (when paired with H2O Audio waterproof headphones - $40) and features the company’s Commander Scroll Wheel controller, Latch Tight locking system, and Seal Tight connector for standard headphones. The housing comes with a sport armband and sells for $90. “The new H2O Audio for iPod features patented engineering and design that provides absolute waterproof protection for fifth-generation iPod owners,” says the company. “The new H2O Audio housing protects the iPod’s video screen from any scratches or abrasions, so the user can always enjoy a clear video image without annoying marks or screen interference. It’s an ideal solution regardless of outdoor conditions or recreational activities.”

Analyst comments on Apple’s possible cell phone strategy

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has offered his thoughts on Apple’s long-rumored entry into the cell phone market. “While we firmly believe that Apple has been working on cell phone technology, we believe its much hyped imminent entry is overdone,” Wu wrote in a research note to clients today. “From our understanding, for Apple to enter the cell phone market in the USA, it needs approval from the FCC. We believe a filing would be required at least three months prior to an actual product launch.” Wu said, however, that Apple could protect the news from leaking by announcing its cell phone and then shipping three months later. “This could be similar to the Intel transition where actual product shipped seven months after the announcement,” he said.

Nyko announces FM Trans-Kit for iPod nano

Nyko Technologies has introduced the
FM Trans-Kit for Apple’s iPod nano. The $40 auto accessory consists of an FM transmitter, car charger and three mounting options. The Trans-Kit broadcasts to five different frequencies, features one-touch tuning, and comes with an adhesive-backed clip, horizontal/vertical air vent clip and sun visor clip. “Nyko’s latest iPod offering is perfect for music fans who groove to their favorite tunes in the car and are looking for a complete package to compliment
their iPod nano,” said the company.

National Semiconductor equips 8,500 employees with iPods

National Semiconductor said today that it is giving each of its 8,500 employees a 30GB fifth-generation iPod. The company said the iPods will be used as communication tools at National, allowing employees to download National podcasts and other communications. “We’re looking for new and more effective ways to communicate with our employees—and the iPods will help us do both,” said Brian L. Halla, National’s chairman and CEO. “Our employees were vital contributors to our most successful year in National’s 47-year history, and we wanted to equip them with the tools to help us create more value for our customers,” said Halla. “The Apple iPod exemplifies the next stage of the consumer electronics revolution as content such as downloadable music, movies and digital photos—as well as a compelling user experience—takes center stage.”

Mix: Norway, ViddyUp, Cell phones, One Man Band

Apple has until June 21 to change the terms of conditions of its iTunes Music Store in Norway. “If Apple does not make its songs playable on all music devices by June 21, it faces fines which would then be followed by court action,” according to reports.

The developer of Podner, the iPod video conversion application for Mac OS X, has changed the software’s name to ViddyUp. The app also gains SubRip (SRT) subtitle support, more informative error display and minor appearance tweaks.

ezGear intros ezVision Video iWear

ezGear has announced the ezVision Video iWear, a new wearable display for fifth-generation iPods and other video sources. The ezVision Video iWear, which simulates a 50-inch widescreen TV, features dual video screens, built-in stereo earbuds, and a rechargeable LiNH battery with up to 8 hours of battery life. “The ezVision Video iWear offers a host of features, includes everything that you need to use them and works with your iPod, DVD player, TV output, Zen Vision M and most other devices with video Out signals,” says ezGear. “The ezVision Video iWear are great for traveling on a plane in a car or even to add privacy and courtesy in your own home.” The headset is priced at $400.

Low wages, long hours for iPod factory workers

The UK’s Mail on Sunday has published a report (not yet available online) that offers a look inside the Foxconn-owned iPod factories in China. Macworld UK says the newspaper’s report reveals that an iPod plant in Longhua houses 200,000 workers, who work 15-hour days for $50 per month. The workers reportedly live in dormitories that house 100 people each, and that outside visitors are not permitted. The Mail reports that the iPod nano is made in a five-story factory that is secured by police officers. The article also says that workers at an iPod shuffle factory in Shanghai are housed outside the plant, and earn $100 per month—but that they must pay for their housing and food, “which takes up half their salaries.”

JavoEdge intros color-changing case for iPod nano

JavoEdge has announced a new color-changing case for the iPod nano. The silicone NeXskin utilizes Hyper Touch Technology (HTT) to change into three color tones in room, cold and warm temperatures. The NeXskin is priced at $12.25. “HTT is a new, never before seen on a skin case feature. Its thermochromic dye allows the NeXskin to change color depending on the ambient temperature. Whether you use your device in warm weather, indoors or cold environments, the NeXskin will change its color and mood with you.”

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