Friday January 9, 2015 11:28 am PST by Eric Slivka
Earlier this week, it was observed that Apple's retail stores were running short of iPod shuffle units, leading to speculation about whether the shortages were just a temporary blip in Apple's supply chain management or if they were a sign of an impending discontinuation of the diminutive music player. The iPod shuffle's only updates since September 2010 have been occasional changes to color options, opening the door to questions and speculation about the device's fate.
According to Billboard, however, the iPod shuffle shortages are indeed just a temporary issue related to component supplies.
Rather than being discontinued, however, sources with knowledge of the situation tell Billboard that Apple is actually going thorough component supplier changes that have interrupted production of the Shuffle.
Apple declined to comment.
Supplies of the iPod shuffle remain tight, with Apple's online stores generally quoting shipping estimates of 7-10 business days for all colors. Some of the company's retail stores do have stock of some colors, but many others show the device as unavailable with Apple offering to have units shipped to the stores for customer pickup.
As the iPod market has declined with customers opting to use smartphones for their music needs, Apple's investments in the family have declined and product cycles have lengthened. As a result, it is unclear what Apple's longer-term plans are for the future of the iPod, particularly the iPod shuffle and iPod nano that are more limited in their capabilities than the iOS-based iPod touch.
Wednesday December 3, 2014 6:22 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple this week is battling a decade-old class-action lawsuit by iPod owners angry that their media players were locked to Apple's iTunes ecosystem. Key pieces of evidence in the trial include email conversations among Apple executives and a videotaped deposition of Steve Jobs, both of which were made public for the first time this week as part of the court proceedings.
According to CNN Money and Reuters, the question-and-answer session with Steve Jobs focused on Apple's response to RealNetworks and its Harmony music service. In 2004, RealNetworks created this competing music service that allowed users to download songs and play them on any media device, including the iPod.
RealNetworks' iPod support incensed Apple, which published a press release accusing RealNetworks of hacking the iPod. Apple adopted this strategy following a series of emails between Apple marketing head Phil Schiller and CEO Steve Jobs.
"How's this?" Jobs wrote. "We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod."
"I like likening them to hackers," Apple marketing chief Philip Schiller responded.
When asked if this response to RealNetworks was "strong and vehement," Jobs replied, "They don't sound too angry to me when I read them," adding that, "A strong response from Apple would be a lawsuit."
During the deposition, Jobs reportedly was snarky, asking "Do they still exist?" when referring to RealNetworks. Jobs also was evasive in his testimony, responding 74 times with "I don't remember," "I don't know" or "I don't recall."
When he did answer questions, Jobs painted Apple as a company being held hostage by the major music labels, which required digital rights management (DRM) on iTunes music as part of their contract terms. Apple claimed it had to repeatedly update iTunes to patch holes in its DRM or risk forfeiting these contracts.
The class action case started earlier this week and is being heard in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. Apple marketing head Phil Schiller and senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue are expected to testify as part of the ongoing court proceedings.
Monday December 1, 2014 8:31 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple this week is scheduled to appear in court and face accusations that it deliberately crippled competing music services and players in an iPod class action lawsuit from 2005, reports The New York Times. The trial will feature testimony from Steve Jobs, whose emails and a videotaped deposition taken before his death will play an important part in the plaintiffs' case.
The complaint focuses on Apple's older iPod models, which only supported music purchased on iTunes and songs downloaded from CDs. Also being disputed is Apple's FairPlay system of encoding purchased music, which limited music playback to the iPod and not competing MP3 players. In the suit, consumers claim Apple violated antitrust law by deliberately limiting interoperability with competitors, while exclusively promoting its products and services.
The email testimony is expected to paint Steve Jobs as an aggressive businessman who worked hard to ensure the success of the iPod and iTunes. This success often came at the expense of smaller competitors, which were not allowed to connect to Apple's popular iPod ecosystem. In one already released email, Jobs addresses Apple's lack of support for the-then upcoming MusicMatch music store.
"We need to make sure that when Music Match launches their download music store they cannot use iPod," he wrote. "Is this going to be an issue?"
Part of the case also involves Apple's interactions with RealNetworks, which devised a workaround in 2004 that allowed content from its music store to be played on the iPod. In an angry statement released to the media, Apple accused RealNetworks of hacking the iPod and threatened to disable this functionality in future iPod software updates.
To counteract Jobs' testimony, Apple is expected to argue that updates to the iPod and iTunes were designed to improve the platform for the consumer and not cripple competing devices. The company also likely will point out that the price of the iPod has gone down over the years, despite Apple's alleged monopolistic behavior.
Tuesday July 1, 2014 8:12 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple last week refreshed its iPod touch lineup with a new 16GB model that offers a camera and color options to replace the stripped-down model it introduced last year. After debuting in the US, the new iPod touch today became available internationally, landing in the UK, Germany, Italy and other countries worldwide.
As revealed by iFixit, the new 16GB iPod touch is a lower capacity model of Apple's existing fifth generation iPod touch lineup that was introduced in 2012. The model features a 4-inch display, Apple's A5 processor, a 5-megapixel iSight camera and color choices that include yellow, blue, pink and more. The new 16GB version lowers the entry-level price point to $199, down from $229 for the now-discontinued silver-only model.
Apple traditionally refreshed its iPod lineup during its annual September press event, which often focused on iTunes and music. Apple de-emphasized music in 2013, opting to unveil the iPhone 5s. The Cupertino company is expected to continue this trend in 2014 with the possible unveiling of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6. The future of the iPod line remains unclear as sales of the units continue to slide quarterly.
Friday June 27, 2014 8:23 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
The teardown experts at iFixit have promptly torn down Apple's refreshed 16 GB iPod touch, a day after the device was announced and went on sale. The $199 iPod touch is Apple's new entry-level touch model, adopting the camera and color options of the existing fifth-generation models.
The teardown analysis of the 2014 16 GB model found no significant changes from Apple's current 32 GB and 64 GB iPod touch models, which were released in 2012. This "refreshed" device includes the same components as the existing 32 GB iPod touch variant, but with half the storage.
At least, that’s the way this camera-laden, 16 GB iPod Touch came to be. We delved inside Apple’s “refreshed” device and found the same components we’d seen in Touches of yesteryear, but with 16 GB of on-board flash memory. So it’s not really that this 16 GB variant gains a camera — instead, it loses half of its 32 GB of storage.
Apple has on occasion taken the opportunity of minor product updates to test out new components, but there is little evidence of that occurring with the new iPod touch. Several of the chips have slightly different part numbers than seen on the original fifth-generation iPod touch teardown, but it is not uncommon for such components to be tweaked at times over a product's lifetime. Overall, the layout of the logic board components on the new iPod touch appears identical to that of the original fifth-generation model, providing no evidence of any significant internal changes.
Besides hardware components, the 16 GB iPod touch also shares the same poor repairability of its higher capacity counterparts. As noted in iFixit's original teardown of the fifth-generation iPod touch, the device received a 3 out of 10 repairability score because of its non-removable battery and linked components that must be replaced in groups.
Apple's fifth-generation iPod touch is recognized for its ultrathin form factor and its bright color options, but the hardware is more than a generation behind, with an A5 processor and 5-megapixel iSight camera that put the device's internals on par with the iPhone 4s.
Even with the relatively dated hardware, however, it is unclear when we should expect a more substantial upgrade for the line. Apple traditionally uses its September event to unveil new iPod hardware, but with iPod sales in decline and this recent refresh and price drop to rekindle interest in the device, it is unlikely that Apple will make further changes to its iPod touch lineup in the immediate future.
Thursday June 26, 2014 6:28 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Following our report from earlier today, Apple has launched its new entry-level 16 GB fifth-generation iPod touch, while also cutting the price on the current 32/64 GB iPod touch, offering them for $249 and $299, respectively. The new iPod touch is available in six different colors with a rear camera and a lower price tag of $199.
The 16 GB model now offers the same features as the larger capacity models, although the Loop wrist strap is sold separately on the 16 GB model and included with 32 and 64 GB models.
The fifth-generation iPod touch originally debuted in October of 2012 with a $299 price tag, but Apple expanded the lineup with a lower-cost, silver-only 16GB model that shipped without a rear camera and lower price point of $229. This new $199 16GB model replaces the $229 model in Apple's iPod touch lineup.
Apple appears to be planning on launching a new 16GB fifth-generation iPod touch, according to a source that spoke to MacRumors. The new iPod touch would be a 16GB version of the current 32/64GB iPod touch, coming in six different colors with a rear camera and a lower price tag of $199. Separately, iGen.fr reports that they have heard that a new iPod touch will indeed be launching on Tuesday of next week. Their source did not directly corroborate the pricing and specs, but did say it was a single model only, and not a revision of the entire iPod touch line.
Apple initially launched the 32/64GB fifth-generation iPod touch in October of 2012 with a $299 price tag, but later added a lower-cost silver-only 16GB iPod touch that stripped key features like a rear camera to lower the cost to $229.
As time passes and technology advances, component prices often drop, which may be why Apple is planning to bring feature parity to its iPod touch lineup nearly two years after the original launch of the fifth-generation iPod touch.
Apple's fifth-generation iPod touch has been lauded for its ultrathin design and its bright colors, but spec wise, the product is inferior to the current iPhone 5s, with only an A5 chip and a 5-megapixel iSight camera, which may be another reason Apple is launching a lower-cost version of the device.
It is unclear what will happen to the existing 16GB iPod touch, but Apple could choose to lower the price of that device even further or discontinue it in favor of the new version with a rear camera.
Monday June 9, 2014 10:20 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Building on the success of its wireless Stratus controller, SteelSeries today introduced the Stratus XL, a full-sized gaming controller for the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Similar to its pocket-sized counterpart, the Stratus XL connects to your iOS device wirelessly through Bluetooth instead of the Lightning port.
The Stratus XL features a larger, console controller-inspired design that provides room for two analog joysticks, a pressure-sensitive directional pad (D-pad), 4 pressure-sensitive action buttons and 4 shoulder buttons that include two trigger buttons.
"We have been working for well over a year now on perfecting the wireless controller experience for iOS devices. We have been incredibly impressed by the way the SteelSeries Stratus has been received by consumers so far and we are looking forward to introducing the Stratus XL to the iOS gaming community – who have been asking for a full-sized controller option," said Tino Soelberg, SteelSeries CTO. "The Stratus XL was designed to meet their demands, delivered with the premium features and top-to-bottom quality expected from SteelSeries."
The Stratus XL will support the same iOS 7 games as the original Stratus including Dead Trigger 2, Asphalt 8: Airborne, Bastion and more. The large format controller will debut later this year at a price that is yet to be announced. Customers can visit the Stratus XL product page and sign up to be notified when the product availability date and pricing are confirmed.
Tuesday April 22, 2014 6:13 pm PDT by Jordan Golson
A research note (via Barrons) from Christopher Caso, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group, reiterates previous analyst reporting about the iWatch, saying Apple is looking to enter production with a pair of screen sizes in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Caso says Apple has production targets of 5-6 million units, but believes the iWatch will "essentially replace the iPod in the consumer portion of AAPL's product lineup" and will see lowered iPod sales as a result of customers choosing the iWatch instead. The note says the iPod is not expected to be updated this year.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this year that the iPod "is a declining business", with sales dropping to under $5 billion in 2013, down from a peak of more than $8 billion in 2008. Apple's iPod lineup has not seen a significant update since Fall 2012, other than a minor color change to match the rest of Apple's portable offerings. The iPod Classic has not been updated in several years.
Apple has worked hard to have products at a variety of price points, from the $49 iPod Shuffle up to the 128GB iPad Air at $799, and then to the various Mac products.
Monday January 27, 2014 4:17 pm PST by Richard Padilla
During the company's earnings conference call today, Apple CEO Tim Cook commented on the state of the iPod, noting that the product is a declining category for the company:
The way we look at it, our business is a sell-through point of view less iPod -- all of us have known for some time that iPod is a declining business.
The iPod was Apple's "halo" product for years, getting new customers to buy Apple products for the first time. Since their peak in 2008, however, iPod sales have seen a fairly steady decline as the iPhone and iPad have captured more of the market that the iPod occupied previously.
Apple's last change to the the iPod line came with the debut of a new Space Gray color option for the iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle at its September 2013 iPhone event. However, Apple has not updated the iPod classic in over four years, with that device more likely to be discontinued rather than refreshed.
Apple's iPod lineup has not seen much in the way of updates recently, with a September refresh seeing only a slight change to color offerings for the iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle with the previous slate color option being replaced with a new space gray option carried over from iPhone 5s. The new color later made its way to the iPad Air and iPad mini as well. Given that Apple typically updates its iPods in the fall each year, new iPods are not expected until late next year.
The AirPort line of Wi-Fi base stations is currently divided, with the larger AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule models having been updated in June with new designs and support for the latest 802.11ac networking standard. The AirPort Express has not been updated to support 802.11ac and was last updated in June 2012 when it received an Apple TV-like redesign.
As with our previous roundups, the goal of our iPod and AirPort roundups is to simply answer the question of "What are you expecting" for Apple's future products at any given time. That opinion evolves over time as new rumors surface, and our roundups will be updated regularly to reflect the latest rumors.
All of our roundups remain accessible through a dedicated index page showing a time-ordered list based on the last date each roundup was updated, as well as directly through the "Roundups" tab in the navigation bar on all MacRumors pages.
Staples sales associates also received training for Mac sales earlier this year, although those products have yet to be launched by the retailer.
Expanded availability of its products through Staples offers Apple not only additional visibility and convenience for customers shopping for themselves, but also new options for businesses that may already do significant business with the office supply chain, making it easier to include Apple product purchases under existing billing arrangements they already have with Staples.
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