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Apple gets serious about music

New iPods and revolutionary online music store from the makers of the Mac

Apple is getting into audio in a serious way, with the launch of three new iPods and an online iTunes music store in the US.

The iPod is Apple's first real foray out of its core market of Mac enthusiasts and into the wider, more lucrative, mass PC market. And clearly this move has proved a great success. Since the launch of the iPod back in October 2001, there have been some tweaks to the design, swapping the scrolling navigation wheel for a solid state touch pad, and adding more capacity. But yesterday saw the company unveil its most radical redesign and its highest capacity iPods.

The top-of-the-range model features a huge 30GB of storage — enough to hold 7,500 CD's worth of music. There is also a new 15GB version and a redesigned 10GB unit. Apple has added four navigation buttons to the iPod which should make it more intuitive to use, plus a new dock for the 30GB and 15GB models to allow you to sync up with your computer's music library. The iPod now supports not only the MP3 but also the AAC audio format.

The new iPods will be available at the end of May priced at £212 for the 10GB model; £254 for the 15GB model and £340 for the 30GB model (all prices exclude VAT).

Alongside the iPods, Apple also announced its new iTunes Music Store, but sadly this is only available to US customers. This is a pioneering service that could point the way for music delivery in the future, allowing users to download tunes from a library of over 200,000 songs for 99 cents each. The library features material from all the major record labels including: BMG; EMI; Sony Music Entertainment; Universal and Warner.

Users can browse the library, searching for songs by title, artist or album and then preview free clips before buying. Once you have bought a song you can burn it to an unlimited number of CDs for personal use or download it to a countless number of iPods.

"Consumers don't want to be treated like criminals, and artists don't want their valuable work stolen. The iTunes Music Store offers a groundbreaking solution for both", said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, when launching the service yesterday.

Now all we want to know is when can UK users can get in on the act?


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