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Apple's cyber sellout; Verizon's open promise; third NYC flagship

Cyber Monday saw inventories of Apple's iPod Touch and iPod Classic products run dry at several of the Internet's largest retailers. Meanwhile, Verizon said Tuesday it plans to open its network to a new and wide range of devices, just as rapper Jermaine Dupri posted a public rant about iTunes. And it appears that Apple is pushing to have its third flagship shop in Manhattan open ahead of the December holidays.

Apple's Cyber Monday sellout

Shares of Apple rose $2.27 to close at $174.81 Tuesday after Morgan Keegan & Co. issued a report stating that online demand for iPods outstripped supply during the "Cyber Monday" shopping spree.

Analyst Tavis C. McCourt kept his "Market Perform" or "Hold" rating on the company after the Cyber Monday and Black Friday rush forced the 8GB and 16GB versions of the iPod Touch to be placed on backorder at some of the Internet's leading retailers. In addition, the 80-gigabyte iPod Classic was also placed on backorder at some shops, McCourt said.

"Combined with a continued drop in NAND flash pricing, the demand for iPod Touch is yet another data point that argues that upside to our current estimates appear(s) more likely than downside for the December quarter," the analyst told clients.

Meanwhile, MacMall issued a statement on Tuesday saying that its own sales for the period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday increased by 65 percent from the same period last year, primarily driven by strong sales of MacBooks, iMacs, Office 2004 Mac, and all versions of the iPod with the exception of the iPod Shuffle.

Looking to maintain its momentum, the online retailer on Tuesday kicked-off a holiday sale which offers rebates and savings on some previous-generation 24-inch 2.16GHz iMacs ($1449) and 2.33GHz 17-inch MacBook Pros ($2099), as well as discounts on the 80GB iPod Classic ($236.99) and LaCie's 500GB USB 2.0 external hard drive ($114.99).

Verizon to open wireless network

Meanwhile, Verizon did its part to shake up the US cellular industry Tuesday by announcing a new strategy that will allow customers more choice of their own hardware and software.

Dubbed "Any Apps, Any Device," the move will reportedly let any cellphone, computer, or similar device that meets a certain minimum technical threshold run on the carrier's network and use its services. Those devices will be able to use any software a user demands rather than what Verizon dictates for its own handsets.

Verizon sees the expansion as a "transformation" for the industry but notes that its core strategy of offering locked phones with customized, controlled software will remain intact. Whether prices will change for service plans for unrestricted devices is unknown, but the technical guidelines will be published by early 2008 and will see the open service available across all of Verizon's service areas by the end of 2008.

The move is largely considered an attempt to win favor with the government and public for the upcoming FCC auction of the 700MHz spectrum, which is expected to serve as the basis for future cellular or wide-area Internet services. Verizon recently dropped its resistance to open access rules won by Google for the auction despite a short-lived lawsuit and allegations that Verizon was engaged in questionable lobbying of Martin to allow auction winners to lock down access.

Meatpacking District Apple Store grand opening

Our friends at ifoAppleStore have been notably accurate when it comes to pinpointing launch dates for Apple's future retail stores ahead of an official announcements.



According to their latest post, multiple sources have pointed to December 7th as the grand opening date for the 14th Street retail store on Manhattan's west side —a spectacular, two-story corner space in the city’s Meatpacking District.

JD's got Jay-Z's back

Ranting for the Huffington Post, hip-hop mogul Jermaine Dupri is calling on artists, producers and label executives to stand up to "those guys at Apple" and tell them they can either cooperate with the music industry's demands "or have nothing for people to buy and download on their iPods."

Specifically, Dupri takes issues with Apple's iTunes model that allows customers to purchase individual singles without buying entire albums.

"Some people find it hard to understand my man Jay-Z's decision not to let iTunes break up his American Gangster album and sell it as single tracks," he wrote. "They say he's fighting the future and losing out on sales from fans who only want to download singles. But I say it was a stand somebody had to take in the music industry. Jay is speaking for all of us."

Dupri goes on to accuse Apple of helping the consumer 'destroy his canvas' and demands that the company start to "respect the craft!"

"We don't tell you to break up your computers into bits and pieces and sell off each thing," he adds. "When you go to the Apple store you may only need one thing, but you have to buy all their plug ins and stuff. You have to buy their whole package, even if you don't necessarily want it, or your equipment won't work."

Greenpeace bumps Apple

Finally, a combination of new entrants and shifts in corporate practices have shaken up the rankings for ecologically friendly electronics makers, according to the December 2007 Greenpeace guide to the technology industry.

Electronista notes that Apple has improved from its previously low scores, moving from 12th to 11th place; this is largely due to the use of aluminum and glass for the new iMac as well as a reduction in toxic chemicals for many iPods. The company nonetheless needs to more explicitly outline which hazardous substances it continues to use and also needs to greatly expand its takeback policy for recycling obsolete hardware outside of the US, Greenpeace argues.