September 10, 2008

Let's Rock: Apple Unveils New iPod Lineup

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote presentation from the company’s annual September iPod event just ended in San Francisco. The rumor mill got it pretty much spot-on this time around, with almost every announcement having been predicted beforehand by the blogs. Some highlights from the show:

NBC is Back: Well, it took a good long while, but NBC’s television programming is all finally back in the iTunes store. Steve said that Apple will be providing high definition content through the store for a $1 premium over the current standard definition programming. As a follower of many of NBC’s shows, this was possibly the greatest news Steve could have delivered. Interestingly, this seems to be one of the only thing that Apple was able to keep under wraps before the event

New iPods all around: Apple is replacing its popular iPod nano line with a new, elongated form factor in bright, vibrant colors. [img_assist|nid=31543|title=A new iPod nano|desc=The new iPod nano model introduced by Apple on Sept. 9. (Courtesy Apple, Inc.)|link=none|align=right|width=|height=0]They also are adding an accelerometer to the nano, allowing users to rotate it into landscape mode for easier browsing in Cover Flow mode and for more optimal viewing of videos and photos. Meanwhile, the iPod touch is also getting an update, with a sleek, rounded casing that incorporates physical volume controls and an external speaker. Rounding out the rest of the line, the bulkier 160 GB iPod classic is being eliminated, and its smaller counterpart is getting a bump up to 120 GB, while the iPod shuffle is getting a color refresh.

iTunes 8 and iPhone OS 2.1: Apple is releasing a new version of the iTunes music player, which is available now from its site. The new player features an image-based music browser and new a new “genius” function that is able to scan your library and automatically assemble playlists of songs that “go together.” This function is also on the new iPod nano and touch, and from Steve’s demos it looked pretty neat. Additionally, version 2.1 of the iPhone/iPod touch operating system will be released on Friday. Just like the rumors of Steve Jobs’ death, promises of “no crashes” are likely greatly exaggerated (it’s still a computer, after all), but any improvement in performance and call quality will be very welcome to this iPhone 3G user. Also, I don’t think it was explicitly mentioned, but hopefully 2.1 will bring the new genius function over to the iPhone as well.

That’s a quick overview of what happened. I think it was a very solid announcement that puts Apple in a good position for the holidays, but the relative lack of surprises coupled with continuing worries about Steve’s health seems to be dragging on the stock; AAPL is down 3.84 percent as of right now.
Be sure to pick up this week’s Eclipse magazine for my full review of all the new goodies.