Macworld A week after Microsoft and MTV pitched the Urge.com rival to iTunes, Apple Computer upped the ante in online entertainment and services.
Apple's chief executive, Steve Jobs, opened San Francisco's Macworld announcing an iPod deal destined to put iTunes in 40 per cent of US cars, additional content for the latest iPod, and escalating market uptake and sales.
Jobs additionally unveiled software tools that simplify development and the hosting of websites incorporating podcasts, blogs and RSS on Apple's .mac internet service.
US car giant Chrysler will integrate Apple's iPod with three million cars and Jeeps in the US - taking iPod out of its current luxury and European car niche. More than 40 per cent of US cars sold in 2006 would feature integration with iPod, Jobs claimed.
Apple's chief executive laid out the scale of the challenge facing Microsoft and MTV, who detailed the Urge.com music download service at last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Jobs claimed 42m iPods have been sold, with 32m players shipped during 2005 alone and 14m during the fourth quarter of 2005 - the magic holiday shopping season for retailers and technology companies. iTunes, meanwhile, has sold 850m songs at a rate of three million songs each day, giving Apple 83 per cent market share.
US comedy show Saturday Night Live, meanwhile, is the latest content to be made available from iTunes, following last October's launch of the video iPod. Eight million TV shows have been sold on iTunes since October.
All this has, of course, buoyed Apple's finances. Apple recorded $5.7bn in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2005, a number that was boosted by $1bn in sales from Apple's 135 retail stores - a record according to Jobs.
Apple is furthering its appeal among media and web-content creators. The company's iLife 06 software, launched Tuesday, introduces iWeb for drag-and-drop creation of websites featuring blogs, podcasts, iTunes and photos. Sites are created using a set of Apple-designed templates while HTML formatting and RSS feeds are generated by iLife.
iLife 2006 also features changes to the existing Garageband iLife module to simplify creation of podcasts with the addition of pictures and music fades.
Jobs also announced a new phenomena in podcasting - picture casting that is made possible through iLife 06's iPhoto module. Photocasting is the ability to post photo albums to .mac, which users subscribe to and which replicate changes when content is updated by the album's author. In a suspiciously Flickr-sounding twist, photocast pictures can be shared and used in areas such as birthday cards. ®