Wearing his trademark black turtleneck but sporting the liver of a 20-something, Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs last night returned to the stage in showman style, unveiling an upgrade to the iPhone, iTunes 9, an iPod nano family with a video camera and a new iPod touch line-up and price point.
Looking thinner but with as much energy as ever, Jobs revealed the iPod now has 73pc of the portable media player market and that to date it has sold 20m iPod touch devices, 30m iPhones and 8.5m songs on iTunes.
Jobs last night unveiled the new iPod nano, adding a video camera, mic and a speaker. Music lovers can now shoot video wherever they are, view it on their iPod nano and use their computers to easily transfer their videos to YouTube.
The new iPod nano features an ultra-thin and sleek design with a larger 2.2-inch colour display and a polished aluminum and glass enclosure. iPod nano also features a built-in FM radio with live pause and iTunes Tagging, as well as a built-in pedometer. The device is available in an 8GB model for US$149 and a 16GB model for US$179, and comes in nine colours: silver, black, purple, blue, green, orange, yellow, red and pink.
“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.”
One of the most hotly anticipated releases to come from the Apple stable last night was the latest version of iTunes, version 9, which will feature an LP ability to download full album artwork and a new Home Sharing feature to allow multiple users share songs and videos.
“iTunes 9 is a great iTunes release, with innovative features that make using iTunes better than ever and iTunes content richer than ever,” said Jobs. “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.”
iTunes LP is the next evolution of the music album delivering a rich, immersive experience for select albums on the iTunes Store with expanded visual features like live-performance videos, lyrics, artwork, liner notes, interviews, photos, album credits and more.
iTunes LP debuts today with albums including Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me,” The Grateful Dead’s “American Beauty” and Dave Matthews Band’s “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King: iTunes Pass.”
The new iTunes Extras provides a similar experience for movies on iTunes with features including documentaries, deleted scenes, interviews and interactive galleries. iTunes Extras is now available for select movies including “Twilight,” “Batman Begins,” “WALL-E,” “Iron Man” and “The Da Vinci Code.” Customers can enjoy iTunes LP and iTunes Extras on a Mac or PC.
iTunes 9 also introduces Home Sharing, which lets you easily transfer music, movies and TV shows among up to five authorised computers in your home. Family members can now view up to five iTunes libraries on their home network, see only the portion of these libraries they don’t already have, import their favourite content directly to their own libraries, and automatically add new purchases from other computers into their library.
iTunes also comes with Genius Mixes which are created using the results of more than 27 million music libraries with more than 54 billion songs that have been submitted and analysed by Genius. Apple says the new Genius Mixes feature is like having a “Genius” DJ that automatically generates up to 12 endless mixes of songs from your iTunes library that go great together.
Apple yesterday also revealed a new iPod touch line-up at a starting price of US$199. Jobs emphasised that the iPod touch makes for a great pocket computer but also a cutting edge portable gaming device that should have Sony and Nintendo very worried.
The 8GB iPod touch is now available for US$199, along with new models which deliver twice the capacity for the same price, with the iPod touch 32GB model for US$299 and 64GB model for US$399.
“At just US$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.”
Schiller said the Apps Store now has more than 20,000 games titles and with support for peer-to-peer connections, the new iPod touch gives users the ability to play multi-player games with people next to them or around the world.
Another revelation was the new version of the iPhone, OS 3.1. You can now organise your iPhone apps right in iTunes and they will automatically appear on your iPhone with the same layout. Plus, syncing music, photos, movies and TV shows is easier than ever with the added ability to sync music by artist and genre and sync photos by Events and Faces. The iTunes Store on iPhone now features precut ringtone downloads with more than 20,000 ringtones.
Photo: The new iPod nano comes with a camera.
By John Kennedy
For more on iTunes 9, see iTunes 9: the drilldown.