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Apple Delights, Infuriates With New iPods And iPhone Price Mods

When Steve Jobs announces something, two truisms are almost always reinforced: It’s going to be in excess, and it’s going to tick people off. Yesterday’s announcements of the revamping of the entire iPod line succeeded in doing both in spades.

First, the channel was completely flushed, as the only devices remaining that had any semblance of continuity were the iPod Shuffle and the iPod Classic—the new name for the venerable full-size iPod we’ve all come to know and love (or hate, depending on your perspective). Even those devices were changed up in terms of hard drive sizes, with the new 80GB meeting the same thinner form factor of the previous 30GB, and a new iPod Classic topping out at 160GB.

The markets reacted quickly, driving the stock price down just a few minutes after Jobs announced a revamp of the entire line and long before he announced the second piece of news that has many pundits and bloggers up in arms—a huge reduction in the price of the 8GB iPhone and elimination of the 4GB iPhone.

A Messy Product Line?
Speaking with an analyst shortly after the event, one got the sense that the stock turbulence was a sign of things to come.

"The product line is now very complicated," said IdaRose Sylvester, an analyst with IDC, "and almost ‘messy’ when one line is renamed ‘Classic’ but is kept in play while the new line is introduced. However, if the cost of new features and higher densities requires the dual product lines, we can see why Apple chose the path it did. I also think the iPhone price reduction won’t sit well with early adopters, especially those that bought the 4GB iPhone."

Sure enough, within hours, the discontent was expressed all over the web, leaving speculation that Apple may be forced to give price differences back to the majority of its customers.

In between those two announcements, though, Apple moved forward its digital hub strategy with a new product that puts new meaning into "small screen" and also another part of the product line that takes its style and functionality more from the iPhone base and less from its sibling iPods. The first is the iPod Nano, named the same as its predecessor but with a 320x240 pixel screen that is the same pixel size as the previous 5.5GB iPod Video but appears much sharper given the smaller form factor.

The second, perhaps more interesting, is the iPod Touch, which looks like a slightly thinner version of the iPhone, uses flash-based memory, and contains WiFi (and potentially Bluetooth, according to screen shots that show the device with the familiar Bluetooth icon on it). The device is expected to shipped within a few days, and will be available in 8GB and 16GB variants.

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