Incase today announced a series of four new iPod 5G and nano cases, continuing with designs that have previously proved popular. The company’s new Leather Folio 5G ($35) inverts the traditional PDA-style case with a front lid that opens fron the bottom, sealing closed at the iPod’s top with a Velcro flap. A flat belt clip on the case enables users to open the case upside-down on their belts for easy screen and Click Wheel access. Premiering in black, the case is planned for December Apple Store availability.
The company’s separate Leather Sleeve ($30) surrounds the 5G iPod in stitched black leather, yet uses mostly clear guards that both reveal and protect its screen and Click Wheel - the Click Wheel guard offers unique edge and center button detail. A flap on the top seals closed with Velcro, while a flat belt clip on back permits easy belt mounting. Leather Sleeve will be available in December.
Incase has also unveiled three colors of Neoprene Sleeves for 5G iPod ($25), which like the company’s earlier Sleeve for iPod nano (iLounge rating: A-) use impressive plastic accents on their fronts and backs, plus clear screen and Click Wheel protectors. The same unique edge and center button details from the Leather Sleeve are included on the Neoprene version, and a flap closes at the case’s top. Black, blue, and pink versions will be available in December. Finally, the company will release new pink and blue versions of its iPod nano Neoprene Sleeve ($20) to match all of the 5G version’s colors.
Wall Street Journal tech guru Walt Mossberg lists iLounge among his favorite tech websites. “The iPod, of course, is a gadget with its own massive cult, so there are numerous blogs for iPod lovers. In my view, the best of these is iLounge,” Mossberg writes.
Apple’s iTunes Music Store is selling an exclusive version of Madonna’s new album, Confessions, in a non-stop dance mix with no gaps between tracks.
Gizmodo is giving away a 30GB fifth-generation iPod to the person who builds the best shrine to the iPod.
An Illinois company named Premier is suing Apple for patent infringement. The company alleges that Apple breached its patent numbers 6,243,725 and 6,763,345 in the iPod, iTunes and Macs.
MyPodSack has announced the BeanPod, a new iPod dock designed to look like a bean bag chair. Made from black vinyl, the BeanPod lets users sync/charge their iPod, and is currently available for the 30GB fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The folks behind the new product said they hope to soon offer different fabrics and various colors. The BeanPod is priced at $33.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has released a new research note that touches upon three topics of interest to iPod owners. Wu discusses the the possibility of a new iPod shuffle in January, the presence of minor RF interference with GSM cell phones and new iPods, and EMI making iTunes-friendly copy-protected CDs.
Wu said the iPod shuffle is due for a refresh as early as January, possibly at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. “We believe this is a key reason why Apple is adding Hynix as a third NAND flash provider in addition to Samsung and Toshiba,” Wu wrote in the report obtained by iLounge. “We are hearing of an even smaller form factor (smaller than a stick of gum) and the potential for the re-introduction of multiple colors, particularly popular among women, including black. We believe price points ($99 and $129) and storage capacities (512 MB and 1 GB) will be similar to the current offerings to minimize overlap with the iPod nano.”
The analyst also explained the RF issue that some iPod users have experienced. “We believe there may be a minor RF (radio frequency) interference problem with the new iPods in isolated cases when they are placed very near a ringing GSM cell phone,” Wu wrote. “From our checks, it appears to impact GSM and not CDMA phones and only on nanos and vPods. When a ringing GSM phone is directly in front of the click wheel, the iPod could go ‘crazy’ and its volume could fluctuate uncontrollably (reminds us of R2D2 when shot by a laser gun). We do not believe this impacts most users in everyday use. We believe this problem could be easily fixed by applying better or more foil tape inside the iPod similar to cell phones and other devices in shielding interference.”
Finally, Wu notes that EMI is planning to ship new copy-protected CDs that are compatible with iTunes. “This is a significant change from its previous stance of shipping Windows PlaysForSure DRM CDs that do not work with iTunes,” the analyst said. “We view this as a positive development and believe other labels could follow.”
“Lost” beats out “Desperate Housewives” as the most popular TV show on the iTunes Music Store, according to an ABC executive.
Two popular iPod accessories—the Belkin TuneStage and Harman Kardon Drive + Play—were honored with Innovations 2006 Design and Engineering Awards from the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Richard Suttmeier of TheStreet.com says that the fifth-generation iPod is cooling demand for the iPod nano. “Demand for the iPod nano—while still quite strong—is softening due to the stronger-than-expected demand for the video iPod,” he says.
TIME is asking readers to vote on who they think should be considered for the magazine’s “Person of the Year” award. Among the dozen choices is Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
iStyles has announced the availability of a new silicone case for the iPod nano. The $8 case is available in eight colors—black, white, blue, green, pink, red, purple, and silver—and has integrated click wheel protection. “The iStyles Silicone nano is a silicone case for the iPod nano that is made from a special silicone material that not only feels smooth and good, but also doesn’t attract dust or become sticky like normal silicone cases,” says the company. “Just touch it to feel the difference.”
Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff helped send Apple shares to an all-time high of $64.22 on Wednesday by writing in a research report that iPod demand shows no signs of letting up. The analyst also noted that Apple appears it will be able to meet increased demand for the new iPod and iPod nano this holiday quarter as evidenced by improved shipping times on the online Apple Store.
“Our channel checks with retailers and component vendors indicate that demand for iPods (both nano and video iPod) continue to remain strong and could be significantly higher than our initial assumption for the holiday season,” Neff wrote. He added that “hot” products have historically seen sequential sales growth of 75 percent to 100 percent during the holiday season. Neff now expects Apple to ship 14.1 million iPods this quarter (Q1 2006), compared with an earlier estimate of 10.4 million.
PodDater.com is a new video dating service that offers downloadable clips of potential matches formated for the video-capable iPod.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a video worth when looking for love? Or making new friends? Imagine a site that allows you to look, listen to, and watch videos of potential matches… and the best part is that you can do it on the go. PodDater is the world’s first dating/social networking site that brings together the growing popularity of the online dating space and the enormous success of the iPod. Visitors to PodDater can come to our community, become a member, identify potential matches and then download them to their iPods. All for free.”
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today introduced the DLO Action Jacket for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The cushioned neoprene case sports a built-in screen protector, a removable belt clip and a slim armband. The DLO Action Jacket is available immediately in four different colors—red, blue, black and grey. The case sells for $30.
“The DLO Action Jacket for the iPod preserves the glass finish of the iPod’s screen and front surface,” says the company. “It fully protects the iPod during any activity and may be used as an everyday case for the new video iPods. It allows hands-free mobility for owners who use the armband for sports activities like jogging, biking, hiking or working out. The sturdy belt clip offers the option of wearing the iPod on the hip or on a belt, bag, pocket, almost anywhere. And, the included workout armband fits any arm size and is easy to adjust.”
Record label EMI Group expects Apple to raise the price of popular songs and cut prices of less popular tracks on the iTunes Music Store within a year. The Wall Street Journal reports [paid sub. req.] that EMI Music CEO Alain Levy had discussed the issue with Apple CEO Steve Jobs and believes Apple will end its single 99-cent pricing.
“We are having discussions which make us believe it will happen in the next 12 months,” Levy reportedly said at a press conference in London for the company’s half-year profit results. “There is a common understanding that we will have to come to a variable pricing structure. The issue is when. There is a case for superstars to have a higher price.”
Apple today announced that the iPod and iTunes are leading the digital music market in Japan with iPod market share at nearly 60 percent, according to Business Computer News (BCN).
“Since the launch of the iTunes Music Store this summer and introduction of the iPod nano and fifth generation iPod, market share in Japan has grown rapidly, solidifying iPod’s position as the number one digital music player in Japan by a wide margin,” Apple said in a statement on Wednesday. “iTunes is the number one online music service in Japan and its library has grown steadily with the addition of dozens of independent labels.”
PopXpress, a new chain of stores in the UK dedicated to the iPod and iPod accessories, has announced the opening of its first store. Located at London’s Liverpool Street, the shop is the first of 12 stores and will open on November 21.
“We are thrilled to be opening this store concept at such an exciting time in the iPod’s development,” said Jonathan Cole, CEO of popXpress. “The iPod has created a new market for consumer mobile music players and has resulted in an array of accessories. We have been planning the rollout for over a year and our plan is to have a second London West End store open before Christmas and 12 more stores nationwide by the end of 2006.
Motorola plans to address criticisms of its poorly received iTunes-enabled ROKR phone with a new model. BusinessWeek reports that Motorola will introduce a revamped version of the ROKR in the first quarter of 2006.
“Expect a phone with a 1 megapixel camera, a 3.5 millimeter earphone jack (same as the iPod uses), and enough storage capacity to hold 1,000 songs—all capabilities Motorola has confirmed. The current phone’s basic design will be replaced by a sleek new look, which sources close to the company say will be an elegant slider format.”
In related news, Ron Garriques, head of Motorola’s mobile devices division, said that his company also plans to take a cue from Apple and begin selling headsets the day after introducing them instead of announcing them well in advance.
The iNanu is a 2-piece protective vinyl overlay for the iPod nano designed to protect your nano from scuffs and scratches. The iNanu is available in three different 3-packs: clear, black and white; clear, inverted cow and flowers; and 3 clear overlays. Each 3-pack sells fro $10.
The TuneShirt is a $20 T-shirt with a specially designed pocket on the sleeve to hold an iPod nano or iPod shuffle. Made from 100% cotton, TuneShirts come in four different styles: plain black, plain white, black with the GoTunes print and white with the GoTunes print.
Approximately 2,500 people from 20 countries and 55 exhibitors attended last week’s Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference in Ontario, California. Organizers of the show reportedly anticipated only 1,000 attendees.
“We had two groups of people attending,” show organizer Tim Bourquin told Marketwatch. “The first was folks who just want to do better podcasts and who wanted to meet other podcasters. Then there were the corporate folks who work for companies which want to get into podcasting and do it in a way that puts them in a good light.”
Bourquin said next year’s event, scheduled for Sept. 29 and 30, will be larger and better structured. “We were sold out this time, and lots of people couldn’t attend the sessions they wanted to,” he said. “We’ll probably be creating ‘tracks’, maybe five or six. One for hobbyists, one for the business side of things. With more room, we’ll be able to break it down.”
Vaja has announced the availability of its iVod case for Apple’s iPod nano. The iVod for iPod nano, which was first revealed in the iLounge Holiday Buyer’s Guide, features a high-quality padded leather body, screen protector, and access to all controls and ports. The $55 case can be ordered in a slew of colors with an optional click wheel protector, name or logo personalization, and clip system. Vaja also said that a version of the iVod for the fifth-generation iPod will ship later this month.
Following his second MP3 player retail recommendation survey, Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster says that Apple is easily holding its ground in U.S. retail stores, with iPod mindshare rising when it comes to high end devices. Like the first survey in June, Munster collected recommendations from reps at 50 non-Apple retail stores such as Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, and Fry’s Electronics about what portable digital audio devices they recommend to customers and why.
“In our Nov-05 retail survey, 68% of sales reps recommend purchase of an iPod or nano vs. any other portable audio device priced over $150. This is up from 63% of salespeople that recommended purchase of an iPod or mini in Jun-05,” Munster writes in a research noted provided to iLounge. “In the low end category, we saw iPod mindshare fall from 52% in Jun-05 to 38% in Nov-05. We believe this change is the result of 2 key items: 1) with the Nov-05 survey we changed the survey question to include only the shuffle on the low end vs. the shuffle and the 4GB mini in the Jun-05 survey, and 2) we believe the nano is stealing some mindshare from the shuffle within the iPod family.”
Munster said that the most common reasons given by MP3 player sales reps on why they recommend iPods are: video capability, ease of use, and a large assortment of accessories. Conversely, the analyst said that those who don’t recommend iPods point to two missing features—an FM radio tuner and screen (vs. iPod shuffle with no screen).
A Dell executive said today that his company is far behind in digital music and that the iPod has reinvigorated Apple. “We’re obviously not competing very well [with the iPod],” Dell Chief Financial Officer Jim Schneider said. “Apple has come out with a nice product and I think it’s really turned their company around.”
CNET News.com reports that iPodder Lemon, a popular open source podcasting application, has been forced to change its name due to pressure from Apple.
Samsung and Apple are expected to sign a long-term contract worth “several hundred million US dollars” by the end of this month to supply NAND flash chips for iPods, according various media reports.
Newsweek’s Steven Levy criticizes Apple for refusing to license its FairPlay digital rights management technology: “Jobs’s explanation is that it’s not something users are asking for, and if a groundswell of users clamor for compatibility, he’ll consider it. Take my word for it, Steve—when people pay for music, they want it to be playable on any device they choose.”
ezGear has announced a new version of its clearCase for the iPod nano. Made of clear acrylic, the hard case offers full protection and has openings for the click wheel, dock connector port and headphone jack. The clearCase for iPod nano comes in two models—clearCase nano and clearCase nano Sport. The clearCase ($25) comes with a lanyard and is available now. The clearCase nano Sport also includes an integrated secure armband. It will ship later this month for $33.
Emerson Radio has announced plans to launch a complete line of iPod-compatible audio products in 2006.
“The new Emerson product line includes clock radios, portable boomboxes, home audio systems and other consumer electronic devices,” the company explains. “Each of these products will employ a custom-fit “docking station” to afford consumers the convenience of simultaneously recharging their iPods, while playing them through their new Emerson appliance for a high quality sound experience.”