Apple September 12 media event summary

Apple iPod shuffle

Today, Apple had its “It’s Showtime” media event. Here is a recap of the presentation.

The event kicked off with the announcement that the Apple has now sold 65 million iPods as of June this year. Accessories are selling well too. For example, the new iPod sports kit has sold over 450,000 kits.

Moving on the iPods themselves, look for screen improvements such as better brightness, improved battery life and improved headphones, gapless playback for songs encoded with MP3, AAC, and Apple Lossless. New software features include instant searching (with alphabetical section screen overlay) and new games for 5G iPods like Zuma, Pac-Man and Tetris (available for download for $4.99 USD).

The video iPod’s battery life has been improved and it is now available in a 30GB model for $249 USD ($299 CAD) and 80GB model for $349 USD ($399 CAD).

As expected, the iPod nano is getting a refresh. Now made out of aluminum, it is thinner than the current nano. And like the mini of yore, different colours have returned. The 2GB model ($149 USD or $169 CAD) will be available in silver, the 4GB ($199 USD or $229 CAD) will be available in silver, blue, green and pink and the 8GB ($249 USD or $299 CAD) model will be available in black.

The iPod shuffle also lives on! The second generation of this tiny player is square and made of aluminum. It comes with a built-in clip and a tiny dock. A 1GB model will be available for $79 USD ($89 CAD).

iTunes is also getting a facelift. Version 7 comes with an updated left navigation bar, separate libraries for different media, new views (including one that will let you flip through album covers). Speaking of covers, anyone with an iTunes account will be able to get free album cover art for their music. iPod updates will also be possible right from iTunes. The new version of iTunes will also let you move iTunes content to different computers as long as both are using the same account.

On to TV. 45 million TV shows have now been downloaded. From its beginnings last October with 5 shows, iTunes has grown to over 200 shows and the latest addition is the NFL network. TV shows will now be available in 640×480 resolution (up from 320×240).

Movies are also making their debut on iTunes today. Disney and its studios Pixar, Touchstone and Miramax will sell new release movies for $12.99 USD (pre-order and first release week) and $14.99 USD after that. Other movies will be available for $9.99 USD. Apple is starting out with over 70 movies and promise near DVD quality and Dolby sound. The usage rights will the same as for TV shows. Movies are available for download only in the US for now but expect other countries to be added in 2007. Over 5Mb/s broadband, a movie should take about 30 minutes to download.

Time for a sneak peek: Apple is planning to release a set-top box (codenamed iTV) in early 2007. It will let you bring your iTunes content (movies, TV shows, music, podcasts your photos) to your television. It looks like a flatter, smaller Mac mini. It includes USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, component video, optical audio, HDMI and a built-in power supply. It will sell for $299 USD.

The event wrapped up with a performance by John Legend.