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."
Now AAPL Stock: 94.19 ( -0.99 )
US tech giants to candidates: support TPP
Tech giants including Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Uber are among thirteen major US corporations who have written an open letter to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton urging them to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, reports Reuters. Although not yet made public, the letter also asks the candidates to make it easier for the companies to hire tech workers from overseas. Both are not happy with the TPP deal, although Trump is sterner in his opposition to any kind of trade deals between countries. Trump has not rejected outright the idea of importing high-tech talent from overseas, while Clinton has already voiced her support for the idea. http://reut.rs/1Wb0Zwq
Apple mandates June 1 app IPv6 support
Apple has set the deadline for IPv6 support for App Store-supplied software. On June 1, apps thast use a custom networking stack and that are submitted to the app store must support IPv6-only networks. The rule, announced last year as coming soon, will only affect a small portion of submitted applications that do not use the NSURLSession and CFNetwork APIs. http://apple.co/24yBTIY
YouTube Unplugged OTT service coming 2017?
As part of the continuing YouTube evolution, the video streaming service is reportedly considering a paid subscription service that would provide users "over the top" cable TV service. According to sources familiar with the matter, the service has been in the works since 2012, has already made changes to accommodate the live video feeds, and could debut the offering as soon as 2017. http://bloom.bg/1rvx8BW
Kohls Apple Pay integration with loyalty program
Kohl's customers are now able to pay for their purchases with Kohl's Charge and simultaneously earn loyalty program Yes2You Rewards in conjunction with Apple Pay. The service is currently available in approximately 250 Kohl's stores and is expected to be in all Kohl's stores nationwide later this month, making Kohl's the first retailer to deliver a one-tap checkout that integrates both its private credit card as a form of payment and a loyalty program with Apple Pay. http://yhoo.it/21wEUI6
AirMap iOS app for drone operators
Provider of airspace information and services for unmanned aircraft AirMap announced today the release of the AirMap app for iOS and Apple Watch. Operators can now access low-altitude airspace advisories, create flights, file digital flight notices to over 80 airports, and manage unmanned aircraft. Building on the success of AirMap's Digital Notice and Awareness System (D-NAS), the AirMap app brings to iOS devices a fully integrated airspace management solution for recreational and commercial drone operators. The app is free. http://apple.co/21wCadD
BlackBerry video calling available on iOS
BlackBerry has made its video calling feature available to Android and iOS users. The company reports limited availability of the new cross-platform feature for now, citing "because this is the first time we're launching BBM Video calling, and we want to monitor performance, gather feedback, and iron out any kinks that may arise before we roll it out globally." http://blck.by/1ruu4pC
Apple loses iPhone brand exclusivity in China
Apple has lost its exclusive rights to the 'iPhone' brand in China, the Beijing Municipal High People's Court has ruled. According to Quartz, Chinese company Xintong Tiandi is now free to continue selling its non-smartphone "IPHONE" branded products, which include smartphone cases, among other leather goods. The Chinese court ruled that Xintong Tiandi, which registered the "IPHONE" trademark in 2007, could continue to use the trademark because Apple did not start selling the iPhone in China until 2009. Apple also could not prove that Xintong Tiandi's ongoing use of the trademark would cause Apple material harm. The latest ruling by the Chinese government follows its recent decision to shut down the iTunes Movies and iBooks Store. http://bit.ly/1SNhRmB