Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich has raised his iPod sales estimates for Apple’s December quarter from 3 million units to 3.5 million units based on stronger international sales and increased supply of drives. “December could be particularly strong as the new iPod Photo is getting glowing reviews, and the competition still lags in ease of use,” Milunovich said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “Hitachi’s HDD division (HGST) should increase its 1-inch production by 50 percent in October. HGST is Apple’s main supplier for the iPod Mini. Toshiba, the major suppler for the white iPod, saw its 1.8-inch drive production almost double in September. Also, scrollwheel supplier Synaptics has a bullish outlook.”
Micromat, makers of the TechTool Pro disk repair utility for Macintosh, has announced a new utility for iPod. PodLock allows users to hide important files by creating an “invisible” partition on their iPod. According to Christian Pickman, Product Manager of Micromat, “It’s like having a secret drive for your data files that only you can see by entering your personal password. If you use your iPod as an external drive to transport data, you’ll want this protection in the event that you should ever lose your iPod.” The utility can also unfragment file data on the iPod, improving file retrieval and music access speed; backup and restore data on the primary iPod volume; and display important and interesting technical information about the iPod, like where a specific iPod was manufactured. PodLock is priced at $65.
Booq has announced a new version of its PodPaq nappa case for the 20/40GB 4G iPod and iPod Photo. The $49.95 case, which will begin shpping on November 10, is made from super-soft Nappa leather and features a removable flap with cutouts for headphones and charging cable, an internal neoprene accessory pouch and external leather pocket, and a belt clip wrapped in leather.
A Rolling Stone article reveals that rock band U2 accepted no money for Apple’s iPod+iTunes ad that features its new single “Vertigo.” The band will, however, get royalties on the special edition U2 iPod. U2 manager Paul McGuinness said, “The commercial was an attractive idea because iTunes was already selling our music, and the amount Apple will spend for airtime is out of reach for the record business.” In the article, U2 lead singer Bono called the iPod “the most interesting art object since the electric guitar in terms of music.”
CNET News.com reports that more and more luxury hotels are adding iPods to their guest rooms.
Markus Giesler, an assistant professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, Ontario, has launched the iPod Experience, a research homepage dedicated to “the study of iPod consumers and their iPod related stories and consumption experiences.”
Since launching BiblePlayer last month, the free version of the software has been downloaded roughly 7,000 times. BiblePlayer allows users to read the Bible on an iPod using the device’s Notes function.
Total Impact Industrial has announced the Slappa HardBody case for 3G iPods. Available for pre-order now, the case features an xEVA molded HardBody shell, NeoGrip pod sling player stabilizer, etched alloy clasp, heavy duty steel belt clip, top and bottom port access, and a Flexi-pane clear front window that covers the screen and scroll wheel. The Slappa HardBody iPod case is priced at US$29.99.
Vaja has released the i-Volution iVod and Classic leather cases for the 40GB and 60GB iPod Photo. iVod is made from genuine Argentine leather, forming a semi-rigid shell with a built-in screen protector. Starting at $70, the iVod comes in a multitude of solid colors and custom two-tone combinations. The traditional Classic case features flip-lid design with a snap-closure, and is also made from genuine Argentine leather and can be custom-built starting at $54.90.
GoogleGet is a small program designed to download the latest news and weather information from Google News (or a local variation) and WeatherRoom.com. This version fixes a problem that prevented GoogleGet from connecting to Google News as well as adding weather info support, iPod auto-detection and many other new features.
Catherine’s Pita Shop announced a slew of new handcrafted iPod cozies today. Made of denim and lined with soft fabric, the cozies come in a variety of original designs. Some have “back pockets” to store your earbuds, while others sport a clear front to allow you to see your iPod. The cozies, which range in pricing from $20 to $25, are “heavier on the fashion than function, but oh the fashion,” notes the company.
Anapod Explorer 8.6.3 from Red Chair Software is the latest version of the iPod utility for Windows. This update provides basic compatibility with the new features of the iPod Photo, and will properly preserve album art associations transferred by iTunes.
Hot on the heels of its iSee-40 case, Contour Design today announced the iSee-Mini, a new hard case for Apple’s iPod mini. The two-piece, ultra-clear case offers: all around protection; easy access to all controls; a top opening for access to connectors, headphone jack, hold switch and third party products such as FM transmitters and voice recorders; and the ability to use the Apple belt clip or the Apple arm band with the front section. The Contour iSee-Mini is priced at $19.99.
Pyrim Technologies is now shipping the iTrac iPod travel case for Apple’s iPod Photo (40GB and 60GB versions). The zippered case features foam storage compartments for iPod, dock, power adapter and miscellaneous accessories. The iTrack sells for $59.99. In addition, Pyrim has also added white to its line of iTrac insert color options.
Marware has introduced the Santa case for Apple’s iPod mini. The holiday-themed case features an interior neoprene lining and a soft red fabric exterior with white fur top. The Santa also sports a fabric belt loop and a lanyard necklace clip that allows you to hang it with the rest of your Christmas stockings. The Marware Santa case is priced at $19.95. As of this posting, Marware’s Web site has yet to be updated.
Contour Design has announced the iSee-40, a new version of its ultra-clear iPod case designed specifically for the 40GB fourth-generation iPod. Like the iSee-20, the new case features a clear, hard plastic shell, removable belt clip and access to all iPod functions. There is also a dock port cover for the dock connector and security latches on each side to seal in the iPod. The iSee-40 is priced at $19.99.
Mediafour has released an update to XPlay 2, its software that enables Windows users to connect with both Mac and PC iPods, and the only retail product that makes iPods compatible with Windows 98SE and Me. XPlay 2.0.11 is compatible with Windows Media Player 10, plus supports updating and restoring all iPods with the latest iPod software releases. Additionally, XPlay 2.0.11 works with the new iTunes 4.7.
MacMinute reports: “Apple’s new iPod Store has added product ratings, allowing customers to submit reviews and rate products from one to five stars. Strangely, users can only review third-party products—all Apple gear is automatically given a ‘5-Apple rating’ because the company says “we think they’re great.” In the frequently asked questions of the reviews program, Apple tells why customers can’t rate Apple products: ‘Would you trust us to display less than perfect ratings on our own products? We didn’t think so!’”
Calling the iPod “nothing more than an enormous marketing success,” CNBC’s Robert Walberg says there is only one direction for the player’s market share to go—lower. “Of course, one problem with the iPod’s market share is that it pretty much has only one way to go—down. In the end, the iPod is nothing more than an enormous marketing success. Sure, it was groundbreaking at first. But today you can find a number of similar products from other leading PC and consumer electronics companies, most at equal or better prices. The company’s iTunes and add-on strategy are likely to keep iPod No. 1 for years to come. Still, it’s tough to sustain a near monopoly in a commodity-based business.”
LoadPod, a nationwide iPod CD loading service, has announced a new, more affordable pricing structure that brings lower prices and rewards those customers with larger CD collections. The price for customers with 50 to 99 CDs is now $1.49 per CD. The price for customers with 100 to 199 CDs is now $1.39 per CD. And customers with 200 or more CDs will now pay $1.29 per CD. In addition, there is no longer a travel fee for any size collection.
Engadget has posted iPodDownload 1.1, a new version of the iTunes plug-in that allows you to transfer songs from any iPod to your iTunes library. As noted earlier this week, iTunes 4.7 disables iPodDownload—but this update adds support for the latest version of Apple’s jukebox application. Engadget suggests user “come and get it quick” before Apple steps in and stops the distribution of the update.
Monster today announced iCruze, a direct connect iPod auto solution that allows consumers to play their music collection through their car audio systems. In conjunction with SoundGate, the iCruze is a $199.95 interface that enables the connection of an iPod to a factory or aftermarket radio through either the car’s existing CD changer or satellite radio port. Users are able to select songs and playlists through either the steering wheel controls or the CD player’s controls. An optional display (multi-line, 20-character backlit) is available if the existing head unit is limited and cannot display text. The iCruze will work in “virtually hundreds of different vehicles,” according to Monster. It is scheduled to be available later this fall.