In addition to expanding its Rhapsody subscription service today, RealNetworks also quietly restored iPod support for songs purchased from its online music store with an update to its Harmony technology. A RealNetworks executive confirmed the move to CNET News.com. “Harmony now supports all shipping iPods, including iPod photo,” said RealNetworks Chief Strategy Officer Richard Wolpert.
RealNetworks released Harmony without Apple’s blessing last year making the company’s online store the first to offer copy-protected digital music (other than the iTunes Music Store) that could play on the iPod. Apple said at the time it was “stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod,” and updated the iPod firmware a few months later to break compatibility.
It should be noted that songs downloaded from RealNetworks’ new subscription services do not work with the iPod and are only compatible with a small number of Windows-based MP3 players.
The iPod is featured prominently in a radio broadcast by BBC Radio 2’s Steve Lamacq, who explores the boom in digital music and its impact on the music industry.
“In this one hour authored documentary, Steve Lamacq investigates how we have arrived at this point and what impact the ‘digital technology revolution’ will have on the future of the music industry as we know it: we talk to the record labels, retailers, consumers, artists and the kids who get music in a different sort of way to how we used to.”
The role of the iPod is among topics discussed, and comments are included from Apple’s Greg Joswiak, Vice President of Hardware Marketing, and Eddie Cue, VP of Applications. To hear the program on BBC Radio 2 Replay service, visit Listen Again. The broadcast is available until Saturday, April 30, 2005.
In response to reader requests, iLounge is proud to announce two new ways you can simplify your search for iPod accessories. Today, we have launched “Ratings Only,” a way you can compare letter grades across all of the approximately 350 products reviewed by iLounge, and a collection of improved accessory categories that make it easier to find and sort accessories by type.
Click on “Ratings Only” at the top any of our Reviews pages to view this new page with grades of all reviewed products, listed in alphabetical order. A drop down menu at the top of the page will let you narrow down the grade listings to the following new review categories.
Adapters and Cables
Car Power Chargers, Kits and Adapters
Cases - iPod 1G & 2G
Cases - iPod 3G
Cases - iPod 4G/HP/U2/photo
Cases - iPod mini
Cases - iPod shuffle
Clips - iPod shuffle
Clips and Cord Managers - General
Headphones & In-Canal Earphones
iPod Hardware Expanders - General
Microphones and Microphone Adapters
Stands (Docks and Cradles)
Stickers, Guards and Film
If you’re looking for a way to view our reviews in “best grades first” order, download the most recent issue of our free iLounge Buyers’ Guide 2005 and check out the Report Card on pages 90-92.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced the availability of the Flip Clip (iLounge rating: B+) for the iPod shuffle. The snap-on clip “secures the shuffle to a person’s belt, shirt, bag — anywhere they choose — with a spring loaded clasping system that points the shuffle controls and headphones right-side up.”
The Flip Clip attaches to the iPod shuffle by locking into the shuffle’s USB cap, while the frame protects the back of the device from scratches. The $19.99 clip also provides access to the slider switch on the back of the iPod shuffle as well as the controls on the front.
U2 frontman Bono may be friends with Microsoft’s Bill Gates (and even stays at his house when his band comes to Seattle), but their friendship isn’t enough to make Gates buy a special edition U2 iPod. “Absolutely not,” Gates said.
Dave Matthews Band is now offering its first track ever on the iTunes Music Store. The song is “American Baby,” the first single from the band’s upcoming album Stand Up.
RealNetworks has announced new versions of its Rhapsody subscription music service, including one that will offer users 25 free songs each month. For $9.99 a month, users can download an unlimited number of songs, and they can now transfer those to select portable audio players for another $5 a month.
Apple is ranked No. 1 on this year’s Wired 40 list, Wired magazine’s annual ranking of the tech companies leading in technology, innovation, and strategic vision.
In an article for ComputerWorld, John Webster, senior analyst and founder of the Data Mobility Group, tells how his dentist is using an iPod to store patient records.
UK-based PodGear today introduced the AudioBuddy, a fully retractable audio link cable for the iPod. The £14.99 Dock Connector to 3.5mm mini-jack cable extends to over 70 cm (about 28 inches) and retracts at the push of a button, giving iPod users “portability without having to worry about tangled cables.” Audiobuddy also ships with a mini-jack to stereo (RCA) adapter. The cable is available immediately.
As reported on Sunday, Apple is expected to launch new stores in these five countries this Thursday — the second anniversary of the iTunes Music Store.
Belkin today announced its new Hi-Speed USB 2.0 4-Port Hub, which features a top-loading port that allows you to dock your iPod shuffle for syncing/charging. In addition to the top port, the Mac and PC compatible device sports three ports on the back for connecting other various USB devices. All four ports are compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 gear.
The hub is “smartly packaged in a white, compact shell that complements the shuffle and the Mac mini,” and can connect up to two devices without a power adapter. The Hi-Speed USB 2.0 4-Port Hub will begin shipping on June 3 for a retail price of $29.95.
Click ‘Read more’ for more photos.
ezGear today announced the ezPower Shuffle wall charger for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The ezPower Shuffle connects to a standard U.S. electric outlet, and lets you plug in your iPod shuffle for charging. The product retails for $22.98.
Griffin Technology is now shipping the AirClickUSB Remote for Mac and PC computers. The $39.99 device uses RF technology that allows you to control your computer from up to 60 ft. away from anywhere in your home or office.
The AirClickUSB enables you to wirelessly control several popular applications, including: iTunes, PowerPoint, and QuickTime. Griffin said future software updates will add support for additional applications.
The small remote control — which features play/pause, next track, previous track, volume up and volume down buttons — is identical to the AirClick for iPod remote and can be used to control either your iPod or your PC if you already own the iPod AirClick.
Moshi has introduced two new iPod pouches made of a unique fabric called Terahedron. The iPouch (full-size iPods) and miniPouch (iPod mini) sell for $14.99 and come with a metal ring drawstring and an outer pouch for earphone storage.
“Moshi is designed with Terahedron cloth. This special cloth is made up of small porous interlocking fibers that give it the combination of unique properties you find in Moshi pouches. Terahedron not only has a comfortable cotton-like look and feel, but is extremely durable, anti-static, and splash resistant. Moshi pouches are designed to effortlessly wipe away grease, particles, and fingerprints from your portable electronics while providing a safe environment to store them.”
The company told iLounge that the two pouches are available now in Asia, and will be sold in the US on eBay under Reliable Trading by the end of April. Moshi said it’s also in discussions with retailers such as Costco.
Synaptics, which supplies touchpad components used in Apple’s iPod, said last week that its fourth quarter earnings are expected to be less than Wall Street estimates because of “softness in its music player business.”
In a research note obtained by iLounge on Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said iPod demand remains strong and gave his thoughts on the cautious guidance from Synaptics.
“On Friday, Synaptics provided guidance slightly below Street estimates for the June quarter based on expectations for softness in its portable music player business. From a headline perspective, Synaptics comments are negative, but it is important to keep in mind: 1) we do not believe there have been any significant changes to Apple’s dominant market share, and 2) while not a positive, it is reasonable to assume that due to seasonality, June quarter iPod unit shipments would fall from December and March quarter levels.”
Munster said he expects Apple to ship approximately 3.5 million iPods (excluding iPod shuffles) in the June quarter.
PodBrix has announced its latest iPod-themed novelty mini figure — Mister Brix. The $16.99 figure, which attaches to the Apple earbuds cord, will go on sale today at 9:00 p.m. ET.
“Mister Brix is designed to be attached to the earbud cord of your iPod music player. His hands are fixed and he uses two vinyl grips to keep himself firmly attached at all times,” explains the creator. “Mister Brix never gets tired and he will not damage your earbud cord. He can be used with any model of iPod. Mister Brix is made from injection molded white plastic. He is not painted.”
Apple this week may use the second anniversary of the iTunes Music Store to launch new versions in Australia and a handful of European countries.
Actor/musician Russell Crowe told listeners to a radio station that an Australian iTunes Music Store would open on Thursday, April 28. Crowe said that the store would sell his new solo music offerings, and that songs would cost AUD$1.80 a track.
Meanwhile, German site Music.ch reports that Apple will also use Thursday to debut iTunes Music Stores in Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin said he’s still interested in getting his satellite radio technology into iPods. “One day maybe [Apple] will be interested in putting in a satellite radio,
iPodResQ has upgraded its iPod repair service to allow customers to send two iPods in for repair or extended-life battery upgrades at the same time. The price for the service remains at $29, but customers sending in two iPods will not be charged for the additional iPod. iPodResQ’s same-day battery upgrades also remain at $79 for a single iPod, but the company now offers an option to send in two iPods for battery upgrades for $119 — a savings of $40.
Pixelgirl Shop, which specializes in hand-made items, is offering two new felt iPod cases. “Summer Sky” (shown right) and “Fishes” are made by Emily Sessions, and are available for 4G iPods ($20) and iPod minis ($18).
“Made of wool/acrylic blend felt, with acrylic felt appliques and velcro closure. Clear vinyl covering for screen and click wheel, designed for full usability of both. Hand sewn, with hand applique. Designed for accessibility of locking switch, headphone jack, and USB plug.”
Banc of America Securities expects Apple to introduce a new iPod “as early as June” to help increase demand which is expected to slow this quarter. The firm forecasts that iPod shipments will decrease to 4.8 million units in Apple’s fiscal third quarter ending in June from 5.3 million units last quarter.
In a research note to clients, Banc of America Securities said that its model incorporates “some seasonal softness,” and with flat revenue guidance from Apple’s last financial conference call, “we imagine that investors are looking to flat to slightly down MP3 sales, and strength in CPUs.”
At Apple’s annual shareholders meeting Thursday, chief executive Steve Jobs defended his company’s environmental efforts after being questioned about recycling policies.
While activists picketed outside Apple headquarters, Jobs said inside that the company takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and noted that the company accepted more than 1,500 tons of old products in 2004 through its recycling program.
The activists — including one who dressed up as an iPod with the words “My trendy toy turned toxic trash today” — focused on the iPod and the device’s hard-to-replace battery. “Most consumers are just going to throw it away and get a new one,” said Sheila Davis, director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.
Jobs said that consumers often throw old batteries away, and pointed out that tens of thousands of iPod owners have already gotten their batteries replaced through Apple’s $99 program and that the company properly disposes of the old ones.
Jobs also admitted that the iPod contains a small amount of lead, but that much more is found in other computer and conusmer electronics products including cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors.
In yet another sign that the iPod photo will soon become the standard iPod model, Apple has renamed the PDF manual for the device to “iPod_with_color_display_User’s_Guide” from “iPod_photoUserGuide”. iLounge has been noting the de-emphasizing of the word “photo” from the product’s name for months. The iPod photo’s packaging was changed in February to reduce “photo” to a small badge, and in March Apple referred to the devices as “iPod with Color Displays” in an iPod Software Update.
Michael Stephens has written an interesting article for Library Journal on how libraries across the U.S. are using iPods.
Analysts say not to expect to see Apple products in Wal-Mart stores any time soon because Steve Jobs “likes to keep tight control over how and at what prices Apple products are sold, while Wal-Mart largely dictates terms to its suppliers.”
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore of The Christian Science Monitor has written an excellent article on iPod use in colleges.