Apple set to unveil new iPod
Apple is expected to use its press conference later today to unveil new-look iPods, a revamped Apple TV and possibly a music-streaming service, according to industry observers.
Apple traditionally holds an event every September focused on its music products, including its iPod range of personal media players and its iTunes download store.
At today’s event, Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, is expected to unveil new-look iPods, with its premium music device, the iPod touch, redesigned to look similar to the iPhone 4.
Experts predict that the new iPod touch will feature the same pin-sharp retina display found on the iPhone 4, as well as dual cameras for Wi-Fi video calls made using Apple’s FaceTime software.
Apple will also likely give more details of Game Centre, a new social gaming network for the iPod touch, which will underline the device’s potential as a portable gaming platform.
Industry insiders also expect Jobs to show off a revamped version of Apple’s set-top box, Apple TV, which allows people to download music, movies and television shows directly to their TV rather than simply having to watch them on a computer.
Apple has long dismissed the device as a “hobby”, but is now thought to be keen to replicate its dominance of the mobile entertainment space in the living room. The new Apple TV could be called ITV, and is expected to cost just $99.
“Video is an area where Apple needs to strengthen its position,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Bros.
Apple is likely use the event to announce changes to iTunes, its music-management and song download service that dominates the digital market.
Experts believe Apple will increase the length of song ‘snippets’ – the chunk of music that a user can preview before deciding whether or not to buy a track – from 30 seconds to a full minute.
The company could also unveil details of its first foray in to music streaming with the launch of a cloud-based iTunes service.
Last year Apple acquired Lala, a music streaming service, for an undisclosed fee, and industry experts have long anticipated the launch of a Spotify-style song streaming service.
However, experts say that it is unlikely that Apple has struck the necessary deals with the relevant major labels to launch a full streaming service similar to that offered by Spotify and We7.
Instead, it is expected to offer users of its MobileMe cloud-based data synchronisation service the ability to backup their iTunes library on Apple’s servers so that music can be accessed over the web from any internet-enabled computer.
A full cloud-based streaming and storage service could follow subsequently.