RealTime IT News

U2 Can iPod with Pictures

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apple Computer unveiled a batch of new iPods, iTunes software and promos designed to keep it atop the heap of digital music players.

At a launch event that included appearances by rock band U2's Bono and The Edge, master showman Steve Jobs said Apple has started shipping two new iPod devices with color screens, 15 hours of battery life and the ability to store as many as 25,000 photos.

"If you look at what our competition is doing, they are moving towards video, but they are too big, too heavy and the screens are too small," Jobs said at the launch event here. "We think that video is the wrong way to go. The right place is towards photos. [Because of the increase in digital photography,] everyone has the content and you own the copyright."

Apple IPod
The latest iPod offers color and pictures.

The new devices ship with A/V cables and an S-Video plug on the docking station so users can hook it up to a TV monitor. The software also lets users synchronize with Apple's iPhoto application, as well as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album or the My Pictures folder on a Microsoft Windows machine.

Jobs also announced an upgrade to its iTunes Music Store. Version 4.7 is designed to accommodate the now shipping color screen iPods, which come in 60GB ($599) and 40GB ($499) versions.

The EU version of the iTunes Music Store features more than 700,000 songs from all four major music companies and more than 100 independent record labels and exclusive tracks. A Canadian version is due out next month. The regional differences accommodate both payment methods, download partners like Akamai does for Apple in the United States and other copyright issues.

Jobs also announced that London's first Apple retail store would open on Nov. 20. Currently, Apple has 93 main retail stores with 24 million visitors in that last 12 months laying down some $1.2 billion in business.

But Apple is the undisputed champ when it comes to music download sites, owning 70 percent of market share, according to monthly independent analyst firm Nielsen SoundScan. The company said users have downloaded 150 million tracks with a projected 17.7 million songs passing through iTunes Music Store this month alone. Jobs said Apple actually bucked industry analysts who suggest the online public is not purchasing at the fever pitch it once had.

Jobs also boasted that Apple sold 2 million iPod music players in the last three months. The company's nearly 6 million units sold thus far account for 65 percent of the market share, according to research firm NPD Group. Jobs even cited NPD research that stated Apple had 92 percent market share of the hard drive players marketplace, but that number is moderated because Apple's numbers are only for a specific type of hard drive.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker also announced plans to release a one-time special edition black iPod with a red scroll wheel that is signed by U2.

Black iPod
U2 got in on the iPod act with its special edition.

The Irish band said it would also release all of their albums in a "digital box set" on November 23. The total of 400 tracks including their latest album and 25 additional unreleased songs sells for $149 dollars. Buying the 20GB special edition version at USD$349 also nets you a $50 certificate off of the download.

Both of U2's front men acknowledged Job's unique position when it comes to digital music.

"It's kind of extraordinary that music companies did not crack the piracy problems. It had to be a technology company," Bono quipped.