iPod Predictions

By Richard Menta 8/24/08

Fall is but a few weeks off and the digerati are already speculating on what Apple has in-store for us this September. September/October is the time the company introduces updates to the iPod line, hopefully with fun drool-worthy goodies for the holiday season.

Here is our betting line for what we may see arriving in the next generation iPod and maybe even an iPhone update or two. Second week of September seems like a good time to expect an iPod annoucement. We'll see.

- - - The Line - - -

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iPod touch drops to $199: odds = even money - With money tight these days a $300 portable device is an easy acquisition for people to postpone. It makes sense for Apple to cut prices on their top of the line player, particularly if it is only a refresh.

Widescreen iPod nano: Odds 3:1 - Kevin Rose of Digg says it so. Let's see if his insider info is accurate.

iPod touch with GPS: Odds = 3:1 - It's in the iPhone now, why not the iPod touch 2.

iTunes offers music subscription service: Odds = 5:1 - No one has gained much traction on music subscription plans, but few other than Apple have gained traction on paid downloads either. Growth in the paid download purchase arena is beginning to level off and Apple might see subscriptions - song rental to you and me - as a next step.

64GB iPod touch: Odds = 6:1 - If memory prices are cost effective. Could the iPod be going flash-only soon?

iPhone Mini: Odds = 6:1 - A second phone to expand the iPhone line seems inevitable. Whether it appears this September is another matter.

iPod touch with Bluetooth: Odds = 8:1 - It's now in the iPhone, but in a limited way.

iPod nano gets rotating screen technology: Odds = 9:1 - The nano may get video, but a rotating screen is more useful for web browsing than for video.

iPod nano with Wi-fi: Odds 15:1 - It could happen, but even an enlarged nano screen will be pretty tiny for Web browsing.

Talking iPod: Odds = 20:1 - Apple touted text-to-speech technology in the early Mac commercials and it was a key selling point of their 840AV Mac in the early 90's. A talking iPod certainly is useful in situations where it is preferable not to divert your eyes, say during driving or running with your Nike + iPod. The patent for a talking iPod that hit the Net two years ago validates the idea, but we have heard nothing about it since then.

iPod with Camera: Odds = 25:1 - Many consumers expect a camera in a higher end mobile phone so it made sense for the iPhone to have one. Not sure if a low quality camera makes sense for the iPod. But what about a high quality camera, say with 7 megapixels? You are still stuck with a device with a fixed lens, though electronic zoom capability can certainly compensate, somewhat.

iPod Satellite: Odds = 35:1 - We first wrote about rumors of an satellite radio version of the iPod way back in 2004, rumors that originated from genuine, but failed, talks between Apple and Sirius radio head honcho Mel Karmazin. Now that the Sirius and XM merger has been approved by the feds the risks for Apple are less. In fact, the combined audience of the two sat-radio companies makes it a potentially strong area for Apple to mine for future iPod market growth. There just hasn't been any evidence yet to show Apple is indeed going this way yet.

Apple iPod Wireless Flat Panel TV = 80:1 - We talked about this before. The ability to banish the spaghetti wire tangle of cables found behind our entertainment systems is damn compelling. A TV that collects signal inputs from the cable box, surround sound system with wireless speakers, DVD player, Blu-Ray unit, DVR and Apple TV via wireless connections. Talk about a brand new market for Apple peripherals, which of course will be proprietary. If it's real, you probably won't see it before January MacWorld, a month before the digital transition takes place.

Removable Batteries: 1 Quibillion-to-one - Designed obsolesence is what US automakers used to move people from a 1960 Chevy with fins to an identical-under-the-skin 1963 Chevy without. When an iPod's battery ceases to hold a charge, folk just move on to the newer model despite the fact that there is nothing else wrong with the older iPod's workings. The average Li-ion battery has a short lifespan. This means more revenue for Apple and why the company has no business incentive to provide a unit with batteries the user can easily replace themselves.

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