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Published on September 12th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

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New iPods, iTunes Coming. But That Pricing is Weird.

Apple announced the new iPhone 5 (yes, that’s what it’s called) today in San Francisco.  And it’s pretty much everything the rumours said it would be:  faster processor, 4-inch screen, LTE, new connector. Pre-orders start Friday with shipping to begin on September 21.

I won’t go deeper into the iPhone here because there are many, many places on the web that can do a much better job.  Instead, I’d like to bring up some points about iTunes and the new line of iPods.

iTunes:  Version 11 will be released sometime in late October.  The design is dramatically different (a welcome difference, from what I could see) although more than one person has pointed out it’s rather Zune-ish from some angles. That’s not a slam, either; the Zune software was pretty good.  Playlist management is easier and it has a new mini-player mode.

That’s great, but has the program been re-written?  In its current state, iTunes is a slow, bloated mess. It doesn’t handle large libraries as well as it should.  And don’t even think of asking it to deal with formats like FLAC. We’ll find out if Apple has fixed things next month.

iPods:  Let’s go through the line one-by-one.

The screen-less Shuffle received a makeover and still sells for $49 for a 2GB model.  

The new nano–which still hasn’t been upgraded to a capital “N”–looks an awful lot like the dearly departed iPod Mini with its 2.5-inch multi-touch colour screen.  It also comes with an FM tuner that allows the user to record and pause live radio broadcasts, just like you can with a DVR.  Nice touches include a built-in pedometer and Bluetooth audio streaming for things like headphones and in-dash infotainment systems.  The price?  Starting at $149, the same as before.

The old Touch stays with us with few changes.  But there’s a new Touch that apes the size and dimensions of the iPhone 5.  That makes sense from a production point of view.  It’s lighter (88 grams), thinner, has a better camera and has the headphone jack moved to the bottom of the unit.

Here’s where it gets weird for me.  The old Touch will sell for $199 for the 16GB model and $249 for the 32GB.  The new Touch will run $299 and $399.

That seems awfully expensive.  If Apple does plan to introduce an iPad Mini as rumoured, where in the line does it fit?  To be competitive, an entry level model would have to cost no more than $249…$299, if Apple really wants to push it.  This has me confused.

Then there’s the matter of the iPod Classic.  It was not mentioned.  Is it dead?

Everything in the newly updated iPod line will go on sale next month.

Earpods:  Apple says they spent three years redesigning the standard ear buds.  They scanned thousands of ears looking for commonalities so they could create the best one-size-fits all design. They promise a better generic fit and better sound.  And yes, I did say they’re called “Earpods.”  They should be on sale any second for $30.


About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.



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