iPod Bonanza: Wireless, Touch Screen, Ringtones
In preparation for the upcoming fourth-quarter sales cycle, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs today (Sept. 5) made a number of product updates and announcements at a San Francisco-area media event, includingIn preparation for the upcoming fourth-quarter sales cycle, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs today (Sept. 5) made a number of product updates and announcements at a San Francisco-area media event, including a ringtone service, a partnership with Starbucks and a touch-screen, WiFi-enabled iPod.
iPod Touch, WiFi iTunes
The new iPod, dubbed the iPod Touch, is simply an iPhone without the wireless network access. It has all the features and functionality of the iPhone, including the touch-screen interface and applications. It relies solely on a WiFi antenna for all wireless access, which includes wireless access to the iTunes store, a feature Apple will also extend to the WiFi-capable iPhone through an over-the-air update.
Users will be able to browse, sample and purchase music from a version of the iTunes service designed for the smaller screen. The store's full catalog will be accessible and all songs will cost the same as the computer-based version of the service.
Both the iPod Touch and the wireless access to iTunes will become available "later this month." The Touch will cost $300 for the 8 GB version and $400 for a $16 GB model.
iPod Nano, iPod Classic
The iPod Nano now features a 2-inch screen and is capable of displaying video, and features the same visual navigation tools as the iPhone. The 4 GB version retails for $150 and the 8 GB version for $200.
The standard iPod line has been rebranded as iPod Classic, and a 160 GB model for $350 was introduced. The 80 GB version is a bit thinner, comes in an optional all-metal casing and retails for $250. Both will be in stores this weekend.
A ringtone service for the iPhone will be available next week. The service allows users to either buy a default clip or select their own 30-second sample from any of the 500,000 songs in the iTunes catalog approved for ringtone use. Buyers will have to purchase the full song via iTunes at the standard rate (99 cents or $1.30, depending on DRM) and then another 99 cents for the ringtone.
It's not yet clear which labels are supporting the service, but sources close to the situation say Universal Music Group is not participating at this time, and no negotiations are currently underway to bring the labels' content to the fold. The ringtones will work only with the iPhone.
Additionally, a partnership with Starbucks will allow users accessing the iTunes store while in certain Starbucks locations to view and buy any song currently being played in-store, as well as the last 10 songs played there.
The service will go live Oct. 2 in 600 Starbucks locations in New York and Seattle, and expand over time to all WiFi-enabled locations by 2009. The service applies to laptops accessing the store via the WiFi connection, or the new iPod Touch and iPhone.
iPhone Prices Slashed
The 4 GB version iPhone, which currently costs $500, will be discontinued and the price of the 8 GB version has been slashed to $400, a $200 cut.