Apple will announce new iPods on Tuesday (September 9).
Here's our predictions on what to expect from Apple's latest iPod range.
New Apple iPod nano
September 2005 brought the original, scratchable iPod nano. 2006 introduced the tougher aluminum 2G nano. And 2007 saw the birth of the ittier-bittier aluminum, video-capable iPod nano we enjoy today. The iPod nano is Apple's most popular iPod-not too expensive, easily slipped into a stocking, attractive, and capable as hell. And because it is, the company can't seem to leave the thing alone.
Given how capable the nano is, what does it need? Right. A bigger screen. Although you can watch video on its 2-inch (diagonal) screen, viewing a letterboxed three-hour epic gives even the most robust of us a crashing headache. With the advent of the iPhone and iPod touch, those who enjoy video on the go are accustomed to watching that video in a widescreen view and on a display that can't be covered with their thumb.
So, that means a nano with a wide screen. And that's accomplished by returning to the old form factor - the hunk-o'-beef-jerky long iPod nano - and turning the thing on its side to watch video. Digg's Kevin Rose has foretold just such an iPod (complete with a picture he claims is a prototype of the device) and he's probably right. Such a nano gives us the change that Apple needs to sell customers yet another iPod and because it doesn't feature a touchscreen and performs only iPod functions, it doesn't eat into iPod touch and iPhone sales.
New Apple iPod
If Apple does indeed issue a sideways iPod nano and maintains the iPod touch pretty much as it is, where does that leave the "traditional" hard-drive bearing full-sized iPod? Currently the advantages that iPod has is storage and a slightly larger screen. The use of flash memory in the shuffle, nano, and touch necessarily constrain them to holding only a small-to-medium-sized media library. The full-sized iPod, currently available in 80GB and 160GB capacities, makes it possible for those with heaping helpings of media to pack a good portion of that media with them.
But storage isn't sexy. And sexy is important if you want to continue to sell these things in large numbers.
What would bring sexy to the full-sized iPod - and keep its capabilities from being compared unfavorably to the iPod nano - is a similarly sideways display. Again, retool the form factor, keep the storage capacity up, and you provide zazz as well as utility.
New Apple iPod shuffle
Much as I'd love to see another go-round of the iPod Flea parody, I'm pretty sure that Apple can't make the shuffle any smaller without also making it a pain in the neck to use (and keep track of). The current clip-on form-factor is darned convenient and, should Apple add some more capacity (4GB, up from 2GB for the "top-of-the-line shuffle), round off the edges, and slap on a few different shades of paint on the things I think they can be fairly confident of their chances of selling a boatload of them during the holidays.
New Apple iTunes
A few weeks ago, in my Imagining a New iTunes entry, I suggested that it was time for a new version of iTunes. And by new I don't mean "even more cluttered with capabilities" but rather a version of iTunes that's more focused. This could come in the form of a reorganized interface or as a couple of different products that more specifically zero in on particular chores - managing, obtaining, and encoding music, for example.
When releasing new iPod models Apple has been known to also unveil major new versions of iTunes. Seems the timing is right for Apple to do so again. In a setting where Apple "returns to its iPod roots" one could argue that it would be easier to sell a slimmed down, music-focused version of iTunes.