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Study: Digital music market sees ‘remarkable growth’

A new study by Solutions Research Group shows that the digital music market has experienced “remarkable growth” in the past year. According to the firm’s research, 28% of Americans aged 12 and over now own an iPod or digital music player, more than double the 12% of 2005. The study found that ownership of digital music players tripled among women—from 8% in 2005 to 27% in 2006. Among men, Solutions Research Group said ownership is up to 28% from 18%. The firm also said that Apple has increased its share of all digital music players from 53% to 68% since last year. According to their study, Creative Labs is a distant number two with 6% of the market, followed by RCA, Samsung and Sony. In addition, the firm said that 23% of web users paid for digital music online this year, up from 8% in 2005.

Stores launch Nike+iPod products

As reported yesterday, Nike+iPod products are being rolled out today at Apple and Nike stores across the U.S. iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz is on hand at a Nike retail store in Newport Beach, California, and filed the below report and photos from the opening.

The most amazing thing is the extent to which Nike+ products have come to dominate the front of the store here. Not only are the products in each of the store’s three display windows—one with a huge banner, one with compatible clothes and shoes, and one just with shoes and a photo of a woman with white earbuds—but they’re prominent inside as well. Nike stores are now carrying iPod nanos. The store we visited only had 1GB nanos for sale. There’s a display with a packaged Sport Kit and boxed iPod nano, articles of clothing with white earbuds, and more. For Apple, this isn’t just a couple of Nike stores with celebrities on hand for photos: this is a full-chain push of this product.

Update 1: Check out iLounge’s First Look at the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, as well as initial photos of Nike+ shoes and apparel.

Update 2: Surprisingly, Nike has begun a retail push for the Sport Kit and Nike+ items outside of its own and Apple’s stores today. Chains such as Chick’s Sporting Goods have unveiled large kiosks, multi-page promotional literature, gobs of Sport Kits, and a wider-than-expected array of clothes and shoes. Besides the Moire and Zoom Plus sneakers, the company has released certain women’s pairs of Shox sneakers, as well as men’s and women’s shirts, jackets, shorts, and pants with iPod nano-sized pockets in their sleeves or fronts. iLounge’s editors have found that most of the Nike items make it virtually impossible to see the nano’s screen while inside, rendering the Sport Kit’s audio feedback feature especially useful.

Mix: Bob Seger, Music phones, Goombah, Alien Ant Farm

Bob Seger’s new single “Wait For Me” is now available from the iTunes Music Store, “ending his long holdout from the world of digital music downloads.”

BusinessWeek has a new article on music phones, reporting that “consumers are starting to leave iPods at home in favor of listening to cell phones that store their favorite songs.”

Aquadock iPod docking station announced

The Aquadock is a water resistant AM/FM radio and docking station for iPods and other MP3 players. The $30 product features a water-tight hinged lid, built-in stereo speakers, a digital LCD clock, and a detachable stand. It is powered by four AA batteries and is available in white or silver. “Whether you’re are enjoying the summer weather at the pool or polishing your singing skills in the shower, the Aquadock provides a safe and convenient way to always have your iPods or MP3 players with you.”

TuneRemote case protects Apple Remote

Tunewear has announced the TuneRemote, a new leather case for the Apple Remote that comes with the iPod Hi-Fi and recent Macs. Made of Italian nappa leather, the case features red and white styling, access holes for the control pad and menu buttons, and a removable metal hook. The TuneRemote will be available in August for $20.

Apple to not appeal case against enthusiast sites

Apple will not appeal the recent court decision that blocked its efforts to reveal the source who leaked product information to Apple enthusiast websites. CNET News.com reports: “The company’s deadline to continue a legal battle to find out who leaked the information to independent online journalists has passed, and Apple acknowledged in a brief court filing this week that it will not take its fight to the California Supreme Court. On May 26, a state appeals court rejected Apple’s attempt to send a subpoena to obtain records and archived e-mail from Jason O’Grady, PowerPage.org’s creator, and Kasper Jade, the pseudonymous publisher and editor-in-chief of AppleInsider.”

CNBC: Nike+iPod Sports Kit ‘could change the running world’

During CNBC’s “On The Money” this evening, sports reporter Darren Rovell provided the first look at the new Nike+iPod Sports Kit, saying he was “very impressed with it” and that it “could change the running world.” Following a first-hand test of the kit, Rovell proclaimed that it could “kill treadmills and membership at gyms” and “really change the way people run and how people think about running.” According to Rovell, the iPod nano was chosen for Nike+iPod support because the majority of nano owners use it to work out, with Apple’s Greg Joswiak noting that the nano is the most popular iPod model. A Nike exec added that the kit will work with 4 million shoes by the end of the year. Also during the CNBC segment, it was revealed that Apple and Nike plan to spend “no money” on advertising the kit and will “rely solely on buzz.” Besides launches at Nike and Apple Stores tomorrow, the only additional marketing planned for the device is its use by Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in his preparation for the upcoming New York City Marathon.

Nike+iPod sprints to Apple, Niketown stores tomorrow

Apple and Nike have announced that the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a $29 wireless sport accessory for iPod nanos, will be available in Apple and Niketown retail stores starting tomorrow, July 13, 2005. Originally announced in late May, the Sport Kit consists of a shoe-mounted transmitter and iPod nano-mounted receiver that communicate wirelessly to store performance data and provide audio feedback for runners. A pair of new Nike+ sneakers ($80-100), such as the company’s simultaneously-released Air Zoom Moire+ or Air Zoom Plus+, is required to properly mount the transmitter; four additional Nike+ styles will be available by the end of July. Apple and Nike have already added Nike+ features to iTunes and the iTunes Music Store in preparation for the release of the Sport Kit, enabling users to download run-ready music and upload results to a new Nikeplus.com website for global comparisons and tracking.

Podcasting gains in popularity among U.S. web users

Podcasts are gaining a foothold among U.S. web users, according Nielsen/NetRatings. The market research firm said today that 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population, or 9.2 million web users, have recently downloaded an audio podcast. Nielsen said 4.0 percent, or 5.6 million web users, have recently downloaded a video podcast. “These figures put the podcasting population on a par with those who publish blogs, 4.8 percent, and online daters, 3.9 percent,” the firm notes. “However, podcasting is not yet nearly as popular as viewing and paying bills online, 51.6 percent, or online job hunting, 24.6 percent.”

Delta DVDs include iPod-ready video discs

Delta Entertainment has produced a collection of DVD titles that come with an extra disc pre-loaded with the movie or TV show already encoded for video-enabled iPods. The front of the DVD packaging says it includes a “video iPod ready disc,” which has video files that you can “Drag and drop straight to your iPod video.” The 10 titles—which appear to be made up partially of public domain content—include: Dragnet, Alfred Hitchcock, Timeless Movie Classics, Bonanza, Real Cowboy Movies, One Step Beyond, The Lucy Show, Cartoon Megapack, Beyond Kong, and Sherlock Holmes Collection. All of the DVDs sell for $7 each from Amazon.com.

Microsoft approaches iPod accessory makers for Zune

After offering confirmation of recent reports that Microsoft will release an iPod-competitive media player called Zune, representatives of iPod accessory manufacturers have disclosed to iLounge that the Redmond, Washington-based company has contacted them regarding potential accessory licensing and compatibility plans for the device, similar to Apple’s Made For iPod program. Like all current iPods except for the iPod shuffle, Zune will feature a proprietary expansion port that Microsoft will allow companies to accessorize at a lower rate than the Made For iPod program, and one which a source suggests will likely lead to widespread iPod industry third-party support for the new device.

Additionally, iLounge has heard that Zune will most likely follow Apple’s recent decision - as seen in the upcoming Nike+iPod Sport Kit - to use some form of proprietary wireless communication technology, eschewing the open Bluetooth standard in favor of one developed at least in part by Microsoft. As previously reported, the Nike+iPod Sport Kit uses an Apple-developed version of 802.11, which may offer bandwidth and other benefits over the various flavors of Bluetooth, but could lock third-party developers out from creating compatible accessories. It is unclear whether Microsoft’s technology, which reportedly enables music “sharing” between multiple Zune users, will resemble Apple’s in all regards, but it will likely be available to third-party developers for accessorization. A recent competing music player, MusicGremlin’s Gremlin MG-1000, already uses the open 802.11b standard for its wireless functionality, a decision which enables the device to connect to existing Wi-Fi home and hotspot network locations. Future digital music players may support one or more 802.11 standards to guarantee both Wi-Fi network and proprietary accessory compatibility.

iBuddiez announces silhouette iPod stands

iBuddiez (formerly PodBuddies) has announced its latest handmade creations—the Silhouette Boy and Girl iPod stands. The resin stands, which are themed after Apple’s famous iPod commercials, hold any iPod while charging and syncing through a small opening. Each silhouette stand is 7-inches high by 4-inches wide and sells for $30.

Speck debuts Active Sport line of iPod cases

Speck Products today announced its new Active Sport line of fitness-inspired iPod cases. The new Active Sport Armband is made of a breathable mesh material and features a neoprene enclosure and an adjustable Velcro strap. The ActiveSport Case is a light-weight case with caribeener clip. Available for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano, both products feature clear screen protectors and reflective material for better night-time visibility. The Active Sport Armband ($35) is available immediately, while the Active Sport basic case ($25) will ship later this month.

Marware offers C.E.O. Classic case for U2 iPod

Marware has announced a new version of its C.E.O. Classic case for the special edition U2 iPod. The new black leather case features red side accents and stitching, and sells for $35. Like the original C.E.O. Classic, the case comes with two removable lids—one with a storage pocket for earbuds, and one with a view of the screen and play–through controls. The C.E.O. Classic also features a removable belt clip and a clear vinyl screen protector.

New details emerge on Microsoft Argo/Zune player

Further interesting details and the first alleged picture of Microsoft’s “iPod killer” were leaked this week. Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley, citing a source close to the project, claims the Microsoft device is part of “a complete line of Xbox-branded digital-media products, including a device that plays media, a software media player and an online media service.” He says the project is being referred to internally at Microsoft by the code name “Argo.” Gizmodo, however, received a tip claiming that the Microsoft player was code-named “Zune” and said that it wasn’t likely to have gaming features. Meanwhile, Engadget scored the first purported photo of the device, which features a vertically oriented 4:3 aspect screen and iPod-like controls and styling.

Apple Japan exec behind iPod marketing resigns

Apple said today that Yoshiaki Sakito, its vice president of marketing in Japan, has stepped down. “Sakito has been credited with leading a successful marketing push for Apple’s iPod portable digital music player in Japan,” reports AP. “The iPod has been a big success in Japan as it has in the rest of the world, dominating the market. Sakito was the most visible executive in the iPod’s Japan push, and the Nikkei said his departure highlights divisions with the managerial ranks.” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, will replace Sakito until a successor is named.

Kensington debuts RDS FM transmitter for iPods

Kensington has introduced the world’s first RDS FM transmitter for iPods. The Kensington RDS FM transmitter/car charger allows an RDS-enabled car stereo to display song and artist information transmitted from a fifth-generation iPod or iPod nano. “Our research indicates that over 80% of all new cars being sold in the US include RDS enabled stereos,” notes Kensington. “RDS is a hugely popular feature and is quickly becoming mainstream. The new Kensington RDS FM Transmitter is the first to allow iPod consumers to take advantage of this exciting car stereo technology.” The device also features ClearFM technology, simultaneous charging of your iPod, three station pre-sets, and a black and brushed aluminum design. The Kensington RDS FM Transmitter will be available this month for $90.

Analyst: New iPod nano due Q4 with magnesium casing

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes we won’t see the next generation iPod nano until sometime this Fall, and that the new model may sport a new magnesium-based enclosure. Wu says the new nano is facing transition issues due to a move to an SOC (system-on-a-chip) architecture. “In terms of timing, we continue to believe calendar Q4 is most likely, specifically October and at the earliest, late Q3, meaning the 2H of September,” he says. Corroborating a similar report earlier today, Wu says the new nanos may sport a new magnesium-based casing. “We believe this new casing will improve scratch-resistance, durability, and help lower Apple’s support and warranty costs,” he says.

Next iPod nano to sport aluminum enclosure?

Apple plans to use an iPod mini-like aluminum casing on the next generation iPod nano, according a report by AppleInsider. In an effort to cut down on scratching, Apple has been “experimenting with aluminum anodized enclosures similar to those used in the company’s iPod mini,” the site claims. Apple has reportedly “committed to the transition away from the nano’s polycarbonate-coated shell and towards aluminum enclosures.” AppleInsider says the new casing is expected to debut in “color variations similar to those used with the iPod mini.”

Album sales down, but music downloads soar

Although U.S. album sales were down 4.2 percent in the first half of the year, digital music sales skyrocketed 77 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures. “Nearly 281 million digital singles were purchased through July 2, compared to 158.8 million in the time frame last year,” reports AP. “More than 14 million full-album downloads were purchased in the first six months of this year, more than double the 6.5 million bought in the first half of 2005. The growth of online music purchases is a mixed blessing for recording companies, however. Such sales often come at the expense of more profitable album sales as music fans opt to cherry pick a few songs online instead of purchasing a whole album.”

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