San Francisco (CA) – Not too many people in this world can hold a crowd as well as Apple’s Steve Jobs and for one hour today he wowed thousands with a bigger and brighter iPod lineup, along with a new ringtone maker. The special event was held at the Moscone West convention center in San Francisco and Jobs started off by touting the success of iTunes and the iPod.
So far iTunes has been downloaded more than 600 million times and customers have purchased an amazing 3 billion songs. Jobs told the audience that the store was the third largest music store behind established brick-and-mortar giants Wal-Mart and Best Buy. 95 million TV shows have also been purchased. The success of iTunes has pushed some record labels to go all digital. Jobs said that 32 percent of song releases now never hit the retail stores and instead go direct to download.
Apple’s iPhone has been hugely successful, but buyers have so far been stuck with the built-in ringtones. Ahh, but you didn’t think that situation was going to last for long did you ? Jobs said a new iTunes will be available tonight that will allow people to make custom ringtones from already purchased songs. He added that Apple was going to do ringtones in “our own special way.”
iTunes users can select parts of songs and then convert that section into a ringtone. Only certain songs (denoted by a ringtone icon) can be converted and customers have to pay an extra 99 cents for the conversion. This is in addition to buying the regular song. Jobs demonstrated the feature by dragging an Aretha Franklin classic into the ringtone maker and then selecting a portion of the song for conversion. The ringtone is automatically uploaded to the iPhone afterwards. Jobs also took a quick jab at NBC after saying his Give Peace A Chance ringtone was for when NBC calls.
While the iTunes improvement wowed the audience, Apple after all is known for good hardware and Jobs said the entire iPod lineup was being refreshed or replaced. He started off by introducing several new colors of the iPod Shuffle which includes the Shuffle Red which denotes a portion of the sales to fight AIDS in Africa.
Jobs also showed off the new iPod Nano, something that resembles an iPod with the bottom chopped off. Available in red, black, silver, blue and green the new Nano sports a 2-inch screen with a 320 by 240 pixel resolution. Battery life lasts approximately 24 hours playing audio and five hours with video. The 4 GB silver model will sell for $150 while the 8 GB version will retail for $200.
The regular iPod is being renamed to the iPod Classic and receives a massive storage hike. Jobs introduced a 160 GB iPod Classic that can play up to 40 hours of audio or 7 hours of video on a single battery charge. The new iPod will retail for $350 and a 80 GB model will sell for $249.
Not too many companies in this world can roll out a new product with fewer features, but this is Steve Jobs we are talking about. The guy can probably sell refrigerators to Eskimos. The new iPod Touch is basically a neutered iPhone – that is an iPhone that doesn’t call. Housed in almost the exact same casing, although a bit thinner, the iPod Touch sports a wireless antenna and the same touch screen as the iPhone. The 8 GB model will sell for $299 while the 16 GB version will be a hundred dollars more.
To go along with the new wireless Touch, Jobs announced the iTunes Wi-Fi music store which lets people purchase and download songs wirelessly.