Apple ended the speculation this afternoon: Yes, its new iPod will play video.
Showing off its latest line of iPods, which will come with a larger, 2.5-inch color screen, Apple Computer, Inc. announced that users will be able to purchase, download and watch episodes of ABC TV shows such as "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" on new versions of the popular gadget.
Users will be able to buy episodes and download them from Apple's iTunes online music store for $1.99 each the day after they air. The online music store also now offers 2,000 music videos, along with short movies from Pixar, at the same price.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said the iPod as a video playback device will be able to ride on its success as a music player.
"Because millions of people around the world will buy this new iPod to play music, it will quickly become the most popular portable video player in history," said Jobs in a statement.
The video iPod, available in both black and white, is available in 30 and 60 gigabytes, at prices of $299 and $399. Somehow, the new models are also thinner than the last batch of iPods and contain a few new software features throw in, such as a world clock and a stopwatch. The larger-capacity iPod will be able to hold 150 hours worth of video files, according to the company.
The new iPod announcement comes just five weeks after the company introduced a credit-card-sized iPod called the Nano, which the company says has sold over a million units so far.
Apple also made new computer announcements today, introducing a new iMac desktop computer that will come with a built-in camera.
Roger Kay, president of research firm Endpoint Technologies, Inc., rated Apple's positioning of the video iPod as a conservative play, because the company isn't offering more expensive iPods with video playback as a premium. Instead, the company is replacing previous models with similarly priced iPods.
Kay predicted that the gadget may appeal to a young generation that grew up with their eyes glued to Game Boy video game systems. But he said he doubted that many older iPod fans will find much time to watch video content on the devices -- or invest the 10 to 20 minutes it will take to download the latest episode of "Lost."
Gadget consumers have a growing number of pocket-sized video playback devices to choose from. On Monday, satellite TV company Dish Network announced a portable video player it calls "PocketDish." Sony's mobile gaming device, the PlayStation Portable, also lets users watch video content on the go.
But such gadgets have often been limited by the amount of content available for them, said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with the Jupiter research firm.
A video-playing iPod had been the subject of speculation by analysts and fans of Apple's Mac computers for at least a year. Heavy Internet traffic caused Mac news and rumor sites to crash in the hours leading up to the announcements. One site that managed to stay online complained that the venue that Apple had chosen, the California Theater in San Jose, was in "a cellular dead zone."
Computer and iPod sales often lag in the days leading up to an announcement from Apple. But New Bern, N.C., resident Mike Afflerbach bought an iPod on Friday and said he didn't feel buyer's remorse on seeing Apple's announcement.
"I don't really want it to get any smaller," he said. Afflerbach said he didn't need video playback on the device and worried that the new feature would tend to eat up the gadget's battery life.
Source: Washington Post
Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPod showing an episode of hit television show "Desperate Housewives" showing,during an unveiling in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2005. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) (Paul Sakuma - AP)