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Luxury-goods retailers Neiman Marcus and Coach have released new iPod cases that cost up to $840. The Birmingham News reports that "Neiman's 'Christmas Book' catalog features seven iPod cases made by designers such as Gucci and Emilio Pucci. The retailer's Valentino Swarovski crystal-studded cover is more than double the $399 price tag of most expensive iPod." The report notes that Seattle-based Nordstrom offers both iPod mini and Shuffle cases and will be offering covers for the iPod nano in the spring. Nordstrom said that its "three biggest selling brands for women are Juicy Couture, some models of which have sold out; Kate Spade; and its private-label cover, Anders said. It offers Tumi, Zegna and Burberry brand covers for men. The report notes that New York-based Coach started selling iPod covers in several leathers, some with appliquis such as ladybugs, at prices from $48 to $88.
Syfter is a new application for Mac OS X Tiger that brings MP3 playlists, websites and both audio and video podcasts together in a unified interface that offers sorting, browsing and batch downloading of free legal content to iTunes. "I like to think of it as either channel surfing for independent music and video or maybe an iTunes Music Store-type interface for the indie media web," said software developer Ryan Sutter. "I have been waiting for a long time for somebody to make it simple and enjoyable to comb through all the free media available all over the web. I mean, there are literally hundreds of thousands of independent bands, radio shows, songs, videos and the like. So much media is good, but also bad because it is nearly impossible to get to the 'good stuff'." A public beta is available now. The shareware is $25.
Apple's iPod is the second behind the Sony Walkman in PC World's The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years. "If the Walkman is the aging king of portable media players, Apple's iPod is prince regent. It rules the realm of digital music like no other device: According to the NPD Group, more than eight out of ten portable players sold at retail by mid-2005 were iPods. Yet when the $399 iPod first appeared in October 2001, it was nothing special. It featured a 5GB hard drive and a mechanical scroll wheel, but worked only with Macs. A second model released the following July offered a 20GB hard drive, a pressure-sensitive touch wheel, and a Windows-compatible version."
As sales of digital music continue to rise, the music industry faces a new probe on the price of digital music. On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the New York State Attorney General "has subpoenaed at least three of the four global music companies as part of what one company described as 'an industry-wide investigation' into collusion on pricing of digitally downloaded music." Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, and Vivendi Universal have all received subpoenas. The reports notes that the labels have been pressuring Apple to change its 99-cent-per-song pricing: "But in a battle that has become increasingly public over the past several months, Apple and the music companies have fought over pricing. The music companies want to move beyond the flat-price model pioneered by Apple, arguing that new hit songs should cost more than 99 cents, while perhaps older material might cost less. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has been just as vocal in insisting that prices need to remain at a straight 99 cents to keep building the digital marketplace."
A new Silicon Valley startup is looking to provide an open-source alternative to iTunes. The company, called Pioneers of the Inevitable, hopes to create a digital music software application called "Songbird"--which offers an uncanny resemblance to iTunes---that is based on much of the same underlying open-source technology as the Firefox Web browser, according to CNET News.com. "With their first technical preview expected early next year, the programmers want to create music-playing software that will work naturally with the growing number of music sites and services on the Web, instead of being focused on songs on a computer's hard drive. That's where iTunes, which plugs only into Apple's own music store, falls short, [founder Rob] Lord argues." The software, however, as a long way to go, as "Microsoft's Media Player accounts for 45 percent of all PC music playing, Apple's iTunes captures 17 percent, and the rest fall off sharply from there, according to U.S. statistics from the NPD Group."
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Apple to open R&D center in India
A new report says that Apple will be opening a new technology center in Hyderabad, India, helping to boost the city's growing reputation as a tech center. The facility would operate within the WaveRock facility, and create 4,500 new jobs at a cost of around $25 million. In 2015, India surpassed the $1 billion in yearly sales milestone, and Apple has recently received permission to open retail stores in the country under its own control, an exception to rules that usually block foreign ownership. http://zd.net/1SMBVu4
Google killing Picasa starting May 1
Google Photos head Anil Sabharwal confirmed in a blog post today that the search engine giant will be shutting down acquisition Picasa. Support and downloads for the desktop application will terminate on March 15 with the application continuing to work for the time being. The transition to Google Photos truly commences on May 1, with deprecation of some Picasa API calls happening shortly thereafter. Users that have Google Photos access will find their photos already migrated. A mass-download tool for users not wishing to use Google Photos will be available sometime after May 1. http://bit.ly/1SmV2KH
Rogue Amoeba Piezo updated, departing App Store
In order to continue working on audio capture tool Piezo, developer Rogue Amoeba has simultaneously updated the app to version 1.5, and announced that it will pull version 1.2.6 from the Mac App Store. Customers who own the Mac App Store version have a one-time migration process to the Rogue Amoeba-served version. The company notes that the sandboxing restriction placed on Mac App Store versions "effectively stopped our ability to upgrade Piezo in any meaningful way." [8.80MB] http://bit.ly/1PIjz7l
FCC spectrum auction will happen without Google
After throwing its hat in earlier, Google (and associated companies) has declared that it is not participating in this year's FCC spectrum auction. A company spokeswoman said of the auction that "like all those interested in improved connectivity and equitable access, we'll be following the upcoming spectrum auction closely. That said, we have not filed to participate." http://on.recode.net/1oy5LWk
iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se sold Friday after launch?
Reverting the way products are actually released by Apple after an announcement to the way it was a decade ago, reports are circulating that new products revealed at a March announcement will go on sale the Friday immediately following the unveil. Slated to appear at a conjectural Tuesday, March 15 event are a new Apple four-inch phone with more up to date internals currently referred to as the iPhone 5se, and a new iPad Air 3 model with Smart Connector and other enhancements. http://bit.ly/1o7mqiY
Lexmark prevails in toner import appeal
Printer manufacturer Lexmark has won an appeal on the third-party US resale of its printer cartridges originally destined for markets outside North America. The appeals court ruled in a 10-2 vote in favor of Lexmark's demand to stop the sale and against Impression Products, both on the toner cartridge resale matter, as well as a related matter regarding overturning the reseller's refilling one-use cartridges and selling those in the US market. The ruling has ramifications in the tech industry, as well as the pharmaceutical and medical technology markets. Impression Products promises an appeal before the supreme court. http://reut.rs/1SLVmmG
AT&T expands BOGO promo to iPhone 6s
Beginning today, new and existing AT&T customers can purchase a new iPhone 6s and get another one free when adding a second line. Over the weekend, customers must purchase two phones through AT&T Next (one can be an existing number), and add both phones to a qualified plan. AT&T notes that "after three bill cycles or less" the account will start to receive up to $650 spread out over 30 monthly bill credits to offset the cost of the installment plan for the phone. Taxes are due at time of sale. http://soc.att.com/1SLUP4k