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August 31, 2010

Apple Introduces New iPod Music Player

by Jeff Seldin

Portable music players have been getting smaller and more sophisticated, a trend started in part by Apple's popular iPods.  Now, Apple is hoping to spark new sales around the world with its next generation of players which it says are even smaller, better and more connected than ever before.

Fans cheered as Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the company's redesigned iPod music players in San Francisco,California, the smallest one just slightly bigger than a person's thumb.

"It's really cute, and it sells for just 49 dollars," said Steve Jobs.

Apple's other iPods, also got redesigns making them smaller, thinner and more powerful, including the iPod Touch, which will now be able to record high-definition video and even make video phone calls to other Apple devices.

Steve Jobs also showed off the first update of Apple TV, meant to give owners more control and more options for home entertainment.

"Look at it," he said. "That's it.  It's this little tiny box."

And to make users feel even more connected, Apple unveiled Ping, a social networking site devoted to music.  Jobs described it as a combination of Facebook and Twitter.

"Here's Lady Gaga, who I'm following and she's posted a vide," said Jobs. "Again I can post video, photos, whatever you like.
Hey everyone, this is Gaga.  I'm so excited to be announcing my brand new page."

Not everyone is impressed.   

Jim Kelleher with Argus Research called the rollout a let-down after the last two announcements - Apple's iPad tablet computer and the company's newest iPhone.

He says this roll-out was more about branding for a company that already dominates the market.

"Making low end iPods and spreading them around the world is a way to develop loyal Apple following in people who are a few years away from buying a PC but at some point are going to have to make that decision," said Jim Kelleher.

Ashok Kumar with the investment firm Rodman and Renshaw also says it's clear from the rollout that Apple is trying to target emerging markets.

"He particularly highlighted the store in Beijing," said Ashok Kumar. "They expect to launch, rollout 10 to 20 stores in China.  China, India, Brazil - these will be the next leg of growth for Apple."

Kumar says, already, three out of every four music players sold worldwide are from Apple.

Now Apple hopes smaller, more powerful devices will keep consumer coming back for more.