Thursday, September 13, 2007

Apple Launches an iPod Armada

After months of media and fan speculation, Steve Jobs announced the next generation of iPods, confirming the meat of the rumors that have been circulating lately.

The iPod Shuffle sees a refresh with a variety of colors including PRODUCT (RED), for which a portion of the sales of the 1GB player ($79) will go toward fighting diseases in Africa.

The new iPod nano, available in 4GB ($149) and 8GB ($199) capacities, features a two-inch QVGA screen and introduces the Cover Flow navigation system, which was previously available only in iTunes. Apple claims 24 hours of audio playback and 5 hours of video playback.

The sixth-generation "iPod Classic" also integrates Cover Flow, features a new all-metal body, and comes in two capacities: 80GB ($249) and 160GB ($349). The 80GB model is rated to have 30 hours of audio playback and 6 hours of video playback, while the 160GB is expected to have 40 hours of audio and 7 hours of video.

The most exciting product in today's announcement is the introduction of the iPod Touch, which basically is an iPhone without AT&T's service. The 3.5-inch iPod Touch comes in 8GB and 16GB sizes (priced at $299 and $399, respectively), includes Cover Flow, and enables users to navigate menus and flick through photos with a finger. Like the iPhone, it includes Wi-Fi, which users can use to access the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. Once within the store, entertainment-seekers can search for music, preview it, and purchase it over the air (these purchases can then be synched to the computer-based iTunes). Apple has also partnered with Starbucks; when you're at a Starbucks location, an icon will appear on the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store that allows you to purchase tracks from a playlist of recently played songs in that store. The deal also grants you free Wi-Fi, but only within Starbucks stores.

In an effort to not totally screw over the droves of people who purchased the iPhone, Apple announced that it lowered the price of the 8GB model from $599 to $399 and that the 4GB model has been cut from the company's product catalog. Plus, compatibility with the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store will be available through a software upgrade in the near future. Steve Jobs also announced that 500,000 customizable ringtones will be available for purchase through iTunes at 99 cents a pop.

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