A displeased customer of Apple’s iTunes Music Store is suing the company, alleging it broke antitrust laws by allowing songs purchased from the store to only work with the iPod, shutting out competitors. “The suit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in San Jose,” reports Reuters. “One antitrust expert called it a long shot, but Californian Thomas Slattery is hoping for unspecified damages for being ‘forced’ to buy an iPod. The key to such a lawsuit would be convincing a court that a single product brand like iTunes is a market in itself separate from the rest of the online music market, according to Ernest Gellhorn, an antitrust law professor at George Mason University. There is legal precedent for such claims, but courts usually conclude competing products as viable alternatives, Gellhorn said.”
Hitachi’s 1-inch Microdrive hard-disk drive, which is currently used in Apple’s iPod mini, will at least double in capacity before the end of 2005. “At present Hitachi’s most capacious Microdrive can hold 4GB of data, but the new drives, due in the second half of this year, will be able to hold between 8GB and 10GB, said Bill Healy, senior vice president of product strategy and marketing at HGST. In addition to offering more storage space, the drives will also occupy about 20 percent less volume than current models, said Healy. One of the biggest space savings will come from replacing the Compact Flash interface with a ZIF (zero insertion force) connector of the type favored by consumer electronics makers.”
Showtime Networks said today it has selected Apple gift cards and iTunes Music Store gift certificates for the company’s first quarter 2005 acquisition campaign. Qualified consumers who sign up to receive Showtime programing and subscribe for at least three months, will get a $25 iTunes Music Store gift certificate or a $25 gift card good at any of Apple’s retail stores in the U.S. The promotional period runs from now through March 31, 2005.
Audiovox is the latest company to announce an adapter to enable you to play an iPod through your car stereo system. The Audiovox iPod Mobile Interface Kit allows for a direct connection of the iPod to most factory car stereos, letting you operate the iPod with the stereo controls. The $200 accessory will also charge the internal battery of the iPod and offers steering wheel control support (if the car is already equipped). Since the Audiovox iPod Mobile Interface Kit is fairly easy to install (with a plug-in connection to the CD Changer port), the company is offering it as both a dealer installed and a do-it-yourself program.
Pioneer Electronics today introduced an adapter to allow users to play songs from their iPod through the company’s car stereos. The CD-IB100 adapter works with the IP-Bus system in more than three million Pioneer head units that were “sold during the past several years.” Pioneer stereos will be able display up to eight characters of text including album, artist and song names, with the ability to scroll additional information. Users will be able to operate their iPods with the stereo’s front panel controls. The CD-IB100 adapter, which will be available in March for $140, also takes full advantage of Pioneer’s audio enhancement capabilities such as Easy Equalizer (EEQ) and Bit Media Expander (BMX).
In addition to raising first-quarter estimates on Apple to earnings of 49 cents a share on $3.49 billion in revenue, J.P. Morgan analyst Bill Shope today increased his iPod shipment forecast to 4.5 million units from 4.06 million. Shope estimates shipments of 1.6 million iPod minis for the quarter. “We expect Apple to unveil a low-cost, flash-based iPod, which could dramatically expand the company’s available market opportunity,” Shope said in a research note to clients. “The potential launch of a new, low-cost iMac could represent a significant positive catalyst as well.”
iPik 1.0 is a new Windows program that enables you to synchronize a variety of data to your ipod, such as your Microsoft Outlook emails and contacts, localized weather reports, RSS (XML) newsfeeds, and the content of “practically any webpage.” iPik, which is priced at $5.95, also lets you transfer formatted text files, regular files and entire directories.
Steve Lidberg of Pacific Crest Securities says that a flash memory-based iPod, and new initiatives in 2005, should help Apple grow its music business to more than $5 billion by 2006.
Apple rivals Napster and Yahoo say the iTunes Music Store’s 99-cent pricing is the wrong formula for digital music, and that subscription-based models are the future.
The fourth-generation iPod was named “Gadget of the Year” in Engadget’s 2004 awards. Picking up the “Disappointment of the Year” and “Worst Gadget of the Year” honors was Sony’s Network Walkman NW-HD1.
Monster today released further information about iCruze, its iPod auto solution that allows users to play their music collection through their car audio systems. Originally announced in November for $199.95, the accessory is now priced at $249.95. The availability of iCruze has also been pushed back. It was supposed to ship before the end of the year, but is now scheduled to ship in early Q1 2005. One piece of good news is that Monster now says iCruze will work with Alpine M-Bus aftermarket car stereos without additional cables—most cars will require the Monster Factory Linx Interface Cable and may also require a Monster Factory Linx Interface Module (both sold separately).
Nyko Technologies announced today that it will exhibit a lineup of all-new iPod accessories at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) later this week. Nyko will introduce the following accessories at CES (pricing not yet announced): MoviePlayer, an add-on that “transforms the iPod into a complete multimedia center,” allowing users to transfer and play movies, videos and photos on a 3.5-inch 65,000 color TFT screen with built-in control pad; iTop Button Relocator, an adaptor that plugs into the iPod’s remote port to relocate all basic control functions from the front of the player to the top of the iPod; Speaker Dock, a charging cradle that lets users listen to music on their iPod in stereo sound while charging; and Universal Car Mount, an auto holder for mounting the iPod or iPod mini in the car, featuring a quick release for easy installation.
Nyko said it will also debut: iBoost, a compact rechargeable battery pack for iPods with dock connectors that adds up to 16 hours of extra playtime; iBoost mini, a slim rechargeable battery pack for iPod mini that adds up to 10 hours of extra playtime; Charger Case for iPod, a shock-resistant aluminum charger case with built-in power supply that will fully power an iPod three times before it needs recharging itself; Stereo Link, a dock connector to RCA plug cable that allows the iPod to connect to any device such as a home stereo and other devices; and FireWire Adaptor, a high performance adaptor that allows the iPod to connect to a FireWire port for transfer speeds of 400Mbps.
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Pod2Go 1.1 is the latest version of the software that downloads news, weather forecasts, movie showtimes, lyrics and more to your iPod. This update adds the ability to automatically download podcasts to your iPod, along with new and improved syncing, a Launcher tool for opening applications and AppleScripts on sync, more powerful scheduled syncing, and support for Yahoo US and Canada movies.
XtremeMac today added three new colors to its line of SportWrap Armbands for iPod and iPod mini. The new SportWrap Armbands come in yellow, red and blue with black trim accents. The SportWrap, made from Neoprene, is designed to go on either arm, and is able to hold the iPod in either vertical orientation. It also features a play-through cover that protects the iPod from moisture. “Whether riding a bike, jogging, running or working out, the SportWrap iPod Armband allows the user to enjoy high-quality audio without the skips, bounces and other maladies previously associated with so-called ‘sport cases.’” SportWrap Armbands are priced at $29.95 each.
From all of us at iLounge to all of our wonderful readers, Happy New Year!
We could hardly have asked for a better year than 2004. iLounge has been blessed with the world’s greatest readership, plenty of exciting news, and all signs pointing towards a bigger, better and brighter 2005. Our forums continue to grow dramatically, our behind-the-scenes Backstage page has gone from pipe dream to reality, we launched the free Buyers’ Guide, and we’ve expanded to offer an audio-format Podcast of key iLounge content. Two big contests (Etymotic giveaway, Klipsch giveaway) are ending tonight. Much, much more is planned for next year.
We hope that this year has brought you as much fun, happiness, and relaxation as you have hoped for, and that 2005 will offer you at least as much of the same! Please use this comments thread to discuss your New Years’ resolutions, and your hopes for iLounge in the year to come.
Best wishes from Dennis, Jeremy, Larry, and the rest of Team iLounge!
As the world watches in increasing horror at the lives lost and damage caused by the earthquake off Sumatra on December 26 2004, there is still something that we can do to help.
Although many governments around the world have pledged millions in aid to assist, this will probably not be enough to help. With an estimated 120,000 fatalities so far and the likelihood of a million plus survivors not having the basic essentials to survive, suffering people need our help now.
iPod owners are amongst the world’s most fortunate people. At this time of need, please consider making at least a small donation to those less fortunate. There are numerous organizations currently accepting donations of money to help the devastated areas. As an example of what our money can do, a donation of $100 can provide enough timber and sheeting to build a home for a family.
This disaster has affected so many people, and with our membership spread all over the globe, we hope that we can do something to help - at least a little. Thank you for reading, and for caring.
For U.S. charity details, visit Apple.com.
U.K. readers can give online at Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
HotRomz has introduced a new line of iPod Tattoo skins (stickers), available in a wide variety of designs. HotRomz iPod Tattoos are available in a multitude of designs such as Leopard, Zebra, Aliens, Egyptian, Tie-Dye, Super Freak Abstracts, Skulls, Monochrome, Patriotic, and many more. Compatible with 4th generation iPods, hp iPod, and U2 iPod; 20 and 40GB models. HotRomz iPod Tattoos retail for $3.99 each, matching blank CD-R media $2.99 each. Both product lines are also available in “Cool Paks.”
San Francisco-based messenger bag maker Timbuk2 has joined the iPod accessory market with two new products: the iPod Case ($20.00) is a ballistic nylon and Velcro sheathe available now in eleven colors (navy blue, black, gray, red, purple, brown, silver, orange, dark green, pink, and burgundy), designed as one-size-fits-all and matching the company’s well-respected bags. An iLounge review is forthcoming soon.
Timbuk2’s iPod Graphic Sleeves are planned for an early 2005 release, and are tailor-cut to the specific shapes, screen sizes, and controls of the iPod and iPod mini. As originally designed, each Sleeve will include a “durable graphic exterior” made from vinyl, a “plush interior lining,” a color-coordinated “spring steel belt clip,” and a snap to hold the top of the case closed. Pricing is as yet unknown, and these features are subject to change before release.
Tunewear announced the release of several new iPod cases today. The new Tunewear Aluminum Clip (also listed on their site as “Aluminium Clip”) is an all-aluminum holder with built in belt clip made from a solid block of aluminum. The Aluminum Clip requires that you also have Tunewear’s Icewear mini. Aluminum Clip for Icewear series will be available at the end of January 2005 for a suggested retail price of $18.85.
The Tunewear Waterwear is a clear plastic, water resistant case for 4G iPods (not recommeneded for iPod photo) and iPod mini featuring a patent pending silicon wheel window, wtaerproof seal and headphone isolator plug. The Tunewear Waterwear case will be available at the end of January 2005 for a suggested retail price of US$24.95.
The Poptune removable wrapper (sticker) for iPod mini comes in 8 patterns ranging from Americana to Zebra. The Poptune series will be available mid-January 2005 for a suggested retail price of $8.95.
Finally, the Prie Hook case is designed to fit 20GB, 40GB and iPod Photo using a unique spring system to adjust to the size of your iPod. An iPod mini version is also available. The Prie Hook features a large spring-loaded hook on top, all leather construction, flip-lid dock cover, clear vinyl screen and wheel protector and access to all iPod functions. Prie Hook will be available in mid-January 2005 for a suggested retail price of US$54.
Today Itzkitz Limited announced the release of ipodkitz for 4th Generation & iPod mini. The ipodkitz includes a hard shell leather case, USB sync charge cable & the Sumajin Smartwrap for headphone cable management. Ipodkitz cases are available in Black, Red or White and includes a velvet interior. The ipodkitz are $39.99 and are available direct from the manufacturer at itzkit.com
On the heels of Belkin’s quiet announcement of the Bluetooth-enabled iPod-to-stereo solution TuneStage, Germany’s Networx has revealed BeamDock, “the superior wireless audio solution for Apple’s iPod.” BeamDock’s iPod music transmitter resembles a thicker version of the official Apple Dock and includes a similar white receiver that connects to a stereo.
According to Networx, BeamDock’s “fully digital audio transmission… delivers the highest audio quality in a sleek elegant design,” interfacing with the Dock Connector port of current iPods, or the analog audio output ports of older iPods and non-iPod devices. The BeamDock boasts a 100-foot transmission range via 2.4GHz ISM broadcasting, built-in volume controls, full iPod-to-computer connectivity via mini USB and mini FireWire ports, and a rechargeable battery for eight hours of continuous playback when disconnected from the included power supply. Users can also switch between 14 2.4GHz channels to avoid interfering with other wireless connections and telephones. Initial BeamDock shipments are planned for late February 2005 at a price of $160.00.
In response to an earlier column written about the iPod Halo Effect, The Wall Street Journal has published 27 letters from various iPod, Windows users, or Windows iPod users stating that the iPod or Windows problems is the reason they have switched to the Macintosh platform. One reader wrote, “After receiving an iPod as a gift, I was inspired to research other Apple products. In the last two months I’ve purchased an iMac G5 for my office and an eMac for home, both replacing Windows machines. I’m amazed at the elegance, simplicity and ease of use of these products.”