SAN FRANCISCO—Apple introduced a redesigned iPod Nano and iPod Classic along with a multi-touch-screen iPod, confirming most of the rumors about what the company was going to introduce at a Sept. 5 product briefing at the Moscone Convention center here.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs also announced a price cut for the iPhone, with the 8GB model dropping to $399, down from $599. He did not mention price changes for the 4GB model.
Jobs seemed to anticipate that this would be read as an admission that iPhone sales were flagging, saying that Apple is “on track to ship the one millionth iPhone” by this holiday season, and that consumer satisfaction numbers for the iPhone are the best Apple has ever seen.
The only rumors that were not given any substance was the talk about a digital radio functions for the iPod feature that would allow users to listen to digital radio and purchase content heard over it.
Instead, Jobs talked about the Nano gaining the more square form factor, featuring a two-inch, 320 by 240 pixel display, word of which was leaked weeks ago, with photos showing up on sites such as 9to5mac.com.
With the display change, the iPod Nano will be able to play video, display photos and play games (three are included) and take advantage of an “enhanced” user interface that includes album cover images. Apple claimed 24 hours of audio and five hours of video playback.
Click here to read more about the rumors that swirled around Apples Sept. 5 iPod announcements
Jobs said the new iPod Nanos are shipping today, with a silver 4GB model at $149 and an 8GB model, which comes in silver plus four other colors, costing $199.
Totally new, the iPod Touch closely resembles an iPhone, with a 3.5-inch multi-touch screen and nearly identical (though, at 8mm, thinner) form factor. Jobs demonstrated its music-playing interface, which uses an animated interface complete with Cover Flow, identical to the iPhones.
Jobs also revealed that the iPod Touch will come with 802.11 b/g networking and the same version of the Safari Web browser that ships on the iPhone. Though there was no announcement of including an e-mail client application on the iPod Touch, Web-based e-mail systems such as Gmail or Yahoo mail should work.
But what Jobs stressed in regards to the Wi-Fi feature of the iPod Touch was the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store.
Calling it “so cool”, Jobs demonstrated how users could search the iTunes Music Store directly from their iPod Touch, listen to a sample of a music track, and purchase and downloaded the song with one click. This will be available in all 22 iTunes Music Store countries, he said, and noted that songs purchased on an iPod Touch will sync back to a users home computer.
Leveraging this, Jobs also announced a partnership with Starbucks.
Apple Refreshes iPods, Cuts
Over the course of the next year, iPod Touch owners will start seeing a special “Starbucks” icon appear when they come within range of a Starbucks T-Mobile-powered Wi-Fi network. This new store button will allow users to view what the most recent 10 songs played in that store were, with one-click purchasing and download available. Users will also be able to browse the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, complete with a special Starbucks music section, for free.
However, users will not be able to access the Internet—for example, Web browsing or e-mailing—for free. That will still require a paid signup on the Starbucks wireless service.
This feature will start to “light up” in approximately 5,800 Starbuck locations in New York and Seattle starting Oct. 2, with San Francisco following in Nov., Los Angeles in Feb. and Chicago in March.
The iPod Touch will also include YouTube browsing, Google search and a contact manager. Prices will be $299 for an 8GB model and $399 for a 16GB model.
The iPod Classic, which was previously known simply as the iPod, also got a makeover, with an all-metal case that closely resembles that of the iPod Nano. Available immediately in silver and black, an 80GB version costs $249, with the 160GB model at $349.
Analysts attending the announcement seemed to respond well to the news of the day. “This is the most aggressive refresh ever from Apple,” said Van Baker, a research vice president at Gartner. “This is a very powerful set of products with aggressive pricing. The new iPod Nano will show up under Christmas trees like crazy.”
He also said that he felt the iPod Touch would be a solid seller and that “the deal with Starbucks is strong.” He said that the agreement would cut into the price-per-song-sold that Apple earns, “but Apple is all about selling iPods.”
Baker noted that cell phone giant Nokia had held a large event the previous week in London, announcing new music-enabled phones and a music store of the companys own.
“It pales in comparison,” Baker added.
Michael Gartenberg, a vice president and research director at JupiterResearch, said that “todays news is not particularly good for Apples competition.”
Click here to read more about the long list of improvements power users want to see in the iPhone.
He said that some new iPod models could compete with each other based on features. However, some customers will buy solely for technology, perhaps going for the iPod Classic, while others will also be motivated by style, he said.
Gartenberg called the Starbucks deal “another way of enhancing the iPods Wi-Fi capabilities,” noting that it is “a first step, but a complete step.”
He also played down suggestions that the iPhones price drop was motivated by poor sales.
“There was so much demand initially, but $599 is not a mass-market product. I suspect the price drop was baked in from the beginning. Its a bold move, and likely to make a spike in iPhone sales,” Gartenberg said.
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