Handicapping Apple's iPod launch

Summary:Apple confirmed a September 5 "special event" so now the handicapping of the announcement can begin in earnest. Officially, Apple is introducing new digital media offerings, according to a bunch of folks who got the invite.

Apple confirmed a September 5 "special event" so now the handicapping of the announcement can begin in earnest.

Officially, Apple is introducing new digital media offerings, according to a bunch of folks who got the invite.

Unofficially, Apple is expected to roll out new iPods--as it tends to do this time of year. The twist this time is that these new iPods are widely expected to be based on OS X.

Piper Jaffray analyst and avid Apple watcher Gene Munster threw in his predictions this morning in a research note. Here are the key points:

New iPod Nano: Munster expects a new iPod Nano with a wider screen and new colors. "We expect Apple will enable video features on the Nano line for the first time, and the capacities will likely range from 2GB to 8GB. Apple will likely to maintain its lowest price point of $149 for the Nano," said Munster.

New iPod: Munster writes:

"The iPod may also be dramatically improved. Though we are less certain of the specifications for the new 6th generation iPod, it may closely resemble the iPhone (without calling features). Specifically, we expect the 6th gen iPod to be a widescreen device with multi-touch technology. It may also have WiFi capability and the capacity could be as high as 160GB. Apple will likely raise the lowest iPod price point back up to $299 (from $249). The 5th gen iPod is the long-lasting iPod model ever; it was released nearly 2 years ago and refreshed with high capacities and a lower price last Sept."

If that plays out one theme to watch is whether an iPhone-ish iPod cannibalizes the iPhone (see Jason O'Grady's diary). For instance, I'm more interested in the iPhone as a media device not a phone. Web surfing is nice, but I prefer the laptop card. And I have no desire for the AT&T network. An iPhone-ish iPod might be the ticket for me. These theme also gets at the touch screen ecosystem Apple is building.

OS-based iPods. Munster also predicts that OS X will be at the heart of the new breed of iPod. If this happens--and it is widely expected--Munster notes that Apple is effectively focusing its business even as it goes into new markets. Munster writes: "Currently, Macs, the phone, and Apple TV run on OS, and with these OS-based pods, Apple would have an entire line of consumer electronics products based on OS. Instead of diversifying its business too dramatically, as some have argued, we believe Apple is focusing its business."

That's a very interesting point--and a valid one at that.

Topics: Apple

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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