Paul and Ringo weren't on hand at Apple's music event Wednesday, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs was there to introduce a new lineup of iPods. Apple rolled out the world's smallest music player -- and the first music player to talk to you -- the new iPod shuffle, priced at $59 with 2GB of storage. Consumers can also opt for a 4GB shuffle for $79.
At the other end of the spectrum, Apple launched the new iPod nano, complete with a video camera, microphone and speaker. That means music fans can shoot video, view it on their nano, and upload it to YouTube.
"iPod nano is the world's most popular music player with over 100 million sold," said Jobs. "And now we've added a video camera to its incredibly thin design, without any additional cost to the user."
Taking a page from the Microsoft Zune playbook, the new nano also features a built-in FM radio with live pause and iTunes tagging, as well as a built-in pedometer. Live pause lets iPod nano users pause and resume playing FM radio shows. iTunes Tagging lets users tag, preview and purchase songs they like when they sync with iTunes. An 8GB nano sells for $149 and a 16GB model for $179.
Touchy, Feely iPods
Apple also rolled out a new iPod touch lineup with a starting price of $199. The iPod touch is similar to an iPhone without the calling capabilities. It offers a multi-touch user interface, a 3.5-inch widescreen glass display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a built-in accelerometer and speaker.
"At just $199 the iPod touch is the most affordable gateway to Apple's revolutionary App Store with more than 75,000 applications that you can wirelessly download right into your iPod touch," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. "You get a great iPod, a great pocket computer with the industry's best mobile Web browser, and a great game player, all in this super-thin beautiful enclosure."
Making the announcements complete, Apple also updated its iTunes software . Apple introduced iTunes 9 with new features such as iTunes LP. iTunes LP combines visual features such as live performance videos, lyrics, artwork, linear notes, interviews, photos and album credits. iTunes 9 also features Home Sharing to allow users to transfer music, movies and TV shows among up to five authorized computers in the home.
"iTunes 9 is a great iTunes release, with innovative features that make using iTunes better than ever and iTunes content richer than ever," Jobs said. "iTunes LP, for example, lets artists share more of their creativity with fans and gives music lovers the feeling of being immersed in an entire album with art, lyrics, liner notes, photos and videos."
The Jobs Impact
Will the new products spur new sales? The excitement surrounding music has dipped in the past year in line with the economy, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group. Although Apple offered some good improvements, he's not sure it's enough to build the necessary buzz to get people to ditch their current iPods for a new one.
"Competitively, I think it's good enough to hold Apple share. I think this will hold up well against the Zune when it comes out in a few days," Enderle said. "But I'm not convinced it's enough to get people thinking about a product like this as opposed to something else they were considering buying. It's a tough market right now."
The bigger news: Jobs doing a long format program -- and doing it well, Enderle said.