Apple Revamps iPod, iPhone and iTunes Music Store5 Sep, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Apple Inc. Sept. 5 updated the iPod digital music player, iPhone and iTunes Music Store in an effort to intertwine and expand their technological and commercial capabilities.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer giant at the much-anticipated Apple Event in San Francisco unveiled the 8mm thin iPod Touch with wireless (Wi-Fi) networking capability and a 3.5-inch touch-screen user face the size of the iPhone.
The $299 8GB device (16GB model for $399), available later this month, features a Safari Internet browser with both Google or Yahoo search engines and a YouTube link that allows access to more than 10 million free videos.
The device features up to 22 hours of audio playback and five hours of video playback.
“People are going to be amazed at how thin it is and how much it does,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
IPhone Gets Cheaper
Hoping to jumpstart mass consumer appeal from early adopters, Apple slashed $200 from the $599 retail price of its 8GB iPhone. The cut comes as some analysts speculated sales of the smart phone had thus far disappointed in comparison to previous Apple product launches.
Research firm iSuppli Corp. said the iPhone outsold all competing smart-phone and feature-phone models in the United States in July on an individual basis.
“[Our] research indicates that Apple was generating a robust hardware margin at its previous pricing and will still be profitable at the new pricing,” said Jonathan Cassell, editorial director for iSuppli.
iPod Nano Gets Video
Dubbed its most popular digital music player, the new iPod Nano includes a 2-inch display with greater resolution (204 pixels per inch) at $149 for 4GB and $199 for 8GB of storage.
The device features podcasting capability and includes three video games while offering 24 hours of audio playback and five hours of video playback per battery charge.
“We've taken the most popular music player in the world and added video playback just in time for the holidays,” Jobs said.
Isuppli analyst Cassell said Apple's move to add video capability to the Nano was not surprising. He said sell-through research indicated that 64% of U.S. consumers have at least some interest in using video on their MP3 players. Nearly 10% of U.S. consumers were already using portable video by the end of 2006.
“[We are] forecasting that 69% of MP3 players will support video by 2011, with shipments of flash-based video players growing 91% annually,” Cassell said.
Separately, Apple unveiled a sixth-generation iPod classic player with 80GB of storage capacity (20,000 songs) for $249. A 160GB model can handle up to 40,000 songs for $349.
Both devices include entertainment trivia games Vortex and Klondike.
iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store
Hoping to piggyback on the ever-expanding wireless universe, Apple launched its first-ever Wi-Fi iTunes Music Store.
The new virtual store allows iPod Touch and iPhone users to browse, search, preview, buy and download songs from the iTunes Music Store via a wireless network.
The downloaded music will sync into consumers' iTunes library when the device is connected to their home computer, which will complete any downloads partially finished by the portable device.
The prices and selection are identical to the regular Web store.
Additionally, iTunes customers can create a custom ringtone for their iPhone by selecting up to a 30-second segment from a selection of more than 1 million songs. The ringtone can be purchased for 99 cents after the participating song is purchased.
Since its launch in 2003, iTunes has sold more than 3 billion songs, 100 million TV show episodes and more than 2 million movies, according to Apple.
To help promote the wireless store, Apple partnered with Starbucks Coffee Co. to allow coffee drinkers with Wi-Fi enabled devices the ability to automatically browse songs via the T-Mobile HotSpot Wi-Fi network without having to connect or log in.
The service bows Oct. 2 in 600 select Starbuck locations in New York and Seattle. Additional rollouts commence Nov. 7 at 350 Starbucks stores in San Francisco, 500 locations in Los Angeles next February and 300 stores in Chicago in March.
“With this partnership, we're bringing Apple's leadership in digital music together with our retail footprint … to offer customers a world-class digital music experience,” said Howard Schultz, chairman, Starbucks. “Introducing this new service is a natural extension of our music strategy which only enhances the retail coffee experience for customers by helping them discover and acquire new music instantly.”