Apple has accused a Korean music player maker of illegally copying the design of the iPod mini. Iops, the fifth-largest MP3 player seller in South Korea, received a complaint from Apple in October which demanded the company stop selling two of its models—Iops Jock and Iops Z3—because they rip-off Apple’s designs.
In the letter sent to Iops, Apple also asked that the company compensate the iPod maker for lost sales, and demanded an official apology to be printed in more than two of the daily newspapers in South Korea. “Iops rebuffed the claim, saying it is waiting for further action from Apple,” The Korea Times reports. “The Korean firm said that it is expecting an international legal suit from Apple.”
IDG World Expo today announced that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will once again deliver the opening keynote address at next month’s Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. The event is being held at the Moscone Convention Center January 9-13, 2006. The keynote will begin at 9:00 a.m. PT on Tuesday, January 10, 2006.
Apple today released iPod Updater 2005-11-17, a new software update that apparently corrects major issues with the iPod shuffle. According to the brief release notes, the update includes iPod Software 1.1.3 for the shuffle, which provides “bug fixes.” Apple said the update does not offer other iPods any additional enhancements.
iPod Updater 2005-11-17 appears to be fixing problems related to widespread complaints of green and orange blinking error lights and iTunes and PCs suddenly no longer recognizing the device. The issues affect both 512MB and 1GB shuffles. Many shuffle owners blame a recent iPod firmware update or even iTunes 6.0.1 for the issues.
Veoh Networks today announced that more than 3,000 videos are now available for downloading and transferring to the new video-enabled iPods using the company’s software.
“Veoh software, installed on a consumer’s PC or Mac, creates a virtual television network able to distribute TV-quality, full-screen video to hundreds of millions of users with broadband connections,” explains the company. “Motion picture studios, television networks, organizations and individuals can publish unlimited amounts of video content to the network, providing consumers with unparalleled choice in television programming and control over their viewing experience.”
Example content includes “Superman and Popeye, to comedies like The Three Stooges, feature-length films, and more than 10,000 user-produced videos on every subject imaginable.”
UK-based PodGear has introduced a black version of its PocketParty micro speaker system for the iPod nano. Like the white version unveiled in September, the new system weighs only 38 grams and offers 1 watt of stereo output from two tiny angled speakers. The PocketParty comes with a removable desktop stand, and runs for up to 10 hours on a single AA battery. Both the black and white versions of the speaker system sell for $45.
The developers of iPodderX, the popular podcast application for Mac and Windows, are holding a contest to come up with a new name for the software. Over $1,500 in prizes will be awarded to the top three people who submit a possible name.
CNET News.com reports: “Hoping to loosen Apple’s grip on the digital music player market, Microsoft is rallying consumer electronics companies to form a common link. The software maker is part of a working group launched last week by the Consumer Electronics Association to develop a standard port for connecting gadgets like music players to audio systems in homes and cars.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an article on iPod accessories with iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz’s top picks.
Commenting on the lack of iPods at Wal-Mart stores last year, a company executive said they were in a “philosophical argument” with Apple CEO Steve Jobs over whether the iPod should play songs from other music stores. “He won, we lost. Now we have nanos in the stores,” said Wal-Mart Senior VP and Treasurer Jay Fitzsimmons.
How2Share Technologies has launched Flixpo, a new site that offers free video content for the 5G iPod and Sony PSP. Flixpo has downloadable movie trailers, TV ads, independent shorts, and comedy reviews, among several other categories.
“Industry research shows there’s not a lot of compelling digital video content available for iPod and PSP users,” says Colin How, president of How2Share Technologies. “Our mandate with this site is to make it easy for consumers to get high quality, fast streaming content that is easy to access and is already optimized for their portable devices.”
Pacific Design has announced the availability of its iPod 5G Flip Case collection. The colorful cases feature a flip-top design, clear vinyl screen protector, belt clip, and offer access to all controls and ports. Color combinations include black with red and white detail; pink with white and gray detail; red with orange detail; and sky blue with cobalt blue and white detail. Pacific Design said RadioShack is also carrying an exclusive case in brown with orange and white accents. Pacific Design’s iPod 5G Flip Cases are priced at $30.
“TuneBuds keep both the earbuds and shuffle handy around the wearer’s neck,” says Griffin. “Just snap TuneBuds onto the shuffle’s USB connector, and you’re up and running (or dancing). TuneBuds’ audio cable, integrated into the lanyard, keeps you free of excess cords and tangled lines. TuneBuds make no compromise on sound quality. The comfortable earbuds supply superb audio to please the most discerning listener.”
XtremeMac tomorrow will announce a new version of its MicroShield for the fifth-generation iPod. The clear hard case features a two-piece design that snaps onto the front and back of the iPod, offering protection for the body and screen of the device while providing access to the click wheel, dock connector and earphone jack. The $25 case comes with one front and two rear panels—one with an integrated belt clip, and one without. The MicroShield will be available in 30GB and 60GB models to accommodate both sizes of the new iPod. The case will be available in stores and online in one to two weeks, according to XtremeMac.
Tekserve, a large independent Apple Specialist in New York City, has announced the grand opening of iTopia, a store-within-a-store dedicated to iPods and iPod accessories.
“iTopia offers Tekserve customers a one-stop shop to purchase everything for their iPod,” explains the store. “It features the largest selection of iPod accessories under one roof in New York, from carrying cases to headphones to speakers to car adapters and much more. Customers can try out many of the latest products and find the best accessories for their needs by speaking with Tekserve’s knowledgeable sales staff.”
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced the DLO nano Fling fashion cases for Apple’s iPod nano. Targeted at women, the cases feature a removable wristlet strap, a padded flip-up cover with a cosmetic mirror, earphone storage loop, and come in metallic pink and metallic silver. The DLO nano Flings are priced at $30 and are available from DLO’s website and Apple retail stores.
Apple’s 4GB iPod nano, which was widely seen as the best-selling iPod since its introduction, is apparently now being outsold by its lower-capacity sibling. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that Apple is benefiting from better than expected sales of 2GB iPod nanos during the holiday shopping season. The analyst said in a research note today that shoppers are appearing to be swayed by the device’s $199 price tag.
“We believe a surge in demand for 2GB iPod nanos at $199 may surprise most iPod followers,” Wu wrote in the report. “This is because in the first several weeks of iPod nano, 4GB models, particularly black colored ones, were outselling the 2GBs and white 4GB nanos by a wide margin. Since then we believe Apple’s bet on a $199 price point has paid off (like it did with the $199 4GB iPod mini) as it built more of these models (and with better margins versus the $249 4GB nanos) as it appears that holiday shoppers (particularly first-time iPod buyers) are more concerned with the price point as opposed to the storage capacity. Demand for the $249 4GB nanos remains strong but appears to be outpaced by its lower-priced, and lower capacity version.”
Apple’s flagship retail store in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district recently opened up an iPod Bar. Similar to the Genius Bars at Apple Stores, the iPod Bar offers customers iPod help and technical support at a friendly walk-up bar area. Gadget blog Gizmodo has photos of the new iPod Bar and comments: “I imagine the iPod Bar staff are basically logo-t-shirted, restart-button-combination-pushing monkeys, since most common iPod problems (frozen/won’t turn on, etc.) can be fixed in this way apart from serious hardware-related problems.”
The Think Different Store has announced the launch of its new CD ripping service. “Designed to provide iPod owners with a fast path to a complete digital music library, the service converts music on CDs into high-quality MP3 files suitable for importing into iTunes and the iPod,” according to the store. Conversions start at $55 plus shipping and require approximately 5 days to complete. The service is available online at 1-800-iPod.com, and also at the 1-800-iPod.com retail location in Selden, New York. Customers purchasing the service in person will save shipping fees.
MP3Band-It has announced the release of the Companion series cases for the fifth-generation iPod, iPod nano and iPod shuffle. Prices range range from $17 to $25 for the cases.
“The Companion is a simple black leatherette case for the iPod designed for protection and portability,” says the company. “Protect and comfortably hold your iPod on your belt, workout pant, shirt or wherever else you might clip it while on the go. Bring your iPod with you without worry of scratch or wear to your iPod. A clear cover protects the screen and control wheel on your iPod while providing full functionality.”
Now available is the twentieth iLounge podcast, co-hosted by our Bob Levens and Jeremy Horwitz. This week’s podcast discusses iPod shortages, the launch of the Xbox 360 and some surprises on Xbox-to-iPod compatibility, iTMS video downloads, Apple’s flash supply agreements and battery settlement appeal, car integration with Harman Kardon’s Drive + Play and TEN Technology’s flexibleDock, and more.
Past podcasts are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.
Apple is keeping the majority of its iPod inventory for its own retail stores, leaving third-party retailers without an ample supply during the busy holiday shopping season, according to one Wall Street analyst. In a research note obtained by iLounge, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster commented today that Apple appears to not be sharing enough of its iPod supply with its retail partners, as evidenced by a survey conducted over the weekend.
“Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we spoke with 10 Apple stores and MP3 player sales reps at 11 third-party iPod retailers (Best Buy, CompUSA, and Circuit City) regarding iPod availability,” Munster writes. “As we had expected, we found that at Apple retail stores iPod availability was very high. Specifically, all but 2 of the 10 Apple retail stores in our sample indicated that they had all iPods in stock throughout the holiday weekend. On the other hand, most third-party retailers in our checks indicated that they were sold out of various, and in some cases all, iPods,” the analyst said. “We believe Apple is channeling the majority of its iPod inventory to Apple retail stores vs. third-party iPod retailers.”
iHome Audio, maker of the iH5 clock radio and speaker system (iLounge Rating: A-), has released a new portable product designed specifically for the iPod shuffle. The iHome2Go iH18 is a portable speaker system and alarm clock that features a cradle/USB port for the shuffle, but lacks the AM/FM radio of the iH5. The iH18 runs off of AC power or batteries, charges the shuffle, folds up for travel and comes with a carrying case. While not yet on iHome’s website (or officially announced by the company), iLoungers report seeing the product at Target stores for $60. Gizmodo has more photos of the iHome2Go from a reader.
French authorities are expected to reduce a copyright levy imposed on flash music players as early as next week. The decision will reduce the tax on a 4GB iPod nano from over €50 (US$59) to about €8. “Last week, the French Commission on Private Copying adopted a proposal to reduce the levy on flash memory devices, aligning it with the levy on hard disk drives,” reports IDG News. “The decision is widely expected to be published Dec. 1 in the Official Journal, where French laws and regulations must appear before they take effect.”