Apple-Watchers Mull Reports of Low-Cost iPods

As the Mac community counts down to Macworld Expo in San Francisco, retailers and enthusiasts weigh rumors of a less-expensive MP3 player from Cupertino.

Continuing a Macworld Expo tradition, speculation grew this week in the Mac community about Apple Computer Inc.s forthcoming announcements at next weeks show in San Francisco. While Apple-centric IT professionals hope for news of an updated Xserve platform, consumers and resellers expect a low-cost iPod media player is in the works.

On the consumer front, industry insiders wondered what the introduction of a smaller, less-expensive iPod line would mean for the marketplace, consumers and Apples bottom line. Although Apple declined to confirm the rumors, some Apple watchers predicted another success for the Cupertino, Calif., company, as others feared that a less-expensive music player could take sales away from Apples current offerings, which range in price from $300 to $500.

Cyril Borgomano, editor of the iPod-Zone enthusiast Web site, pointed to the iPods success as a high-end MP3 player and said that cheaper iPods could expand Apples market leadership.


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"With a $100 to $150, low-end, 2GB iPod, Apple could also become the leader in the low-end MP3 player and USB keychain markets," he said. "Who would buy a 256MB USB keychain if, for almost the same price, they could have a 2GB iPod that plays music and stores data as well?"

Borgomano also observed that inexpensive iPods could be a hit with younger buyers who cant afford todays lineup. "In the short term, it will mean more hardware and music sales for Apple," he said. "In the long term, it might mean more Apple computers sold. The hundred-dollar iPod is a [marketing] Trojan horse."


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