RealTime IT News

iPods Out To Make Storage Sexy

Apple Computer announced new iPod devices today to help flesh out its digital music line.

But beyond the flash and dazzle of the popular music player, analysts say the company has helped make portable storage a sexy consumer commodity.

With over 10 million iPods sold to date, the company is sitting on a nest egg that helped Apple report its highest quarterly revenue and net income in its history last month.

More people are discovering the iPod for its storage capabilities, said Enderle Group founder and industry analyst Rob Enderle.

"We estimate in the 5 to 10 percent range of people are using their iPods as a primary storage device," Enderle told internetnews.com. "It's a minority to be sure, but a growing minority.

Apple is helping foster new storage opportunities, thanks to a revamped iPod photo lineup. The Macintosh maker announced a new iPod photo 30GB model for just $349 and a new 60GB model for $449.

The company also announced a new iPod Camera Connector as an optional accessory that lets customers connect their digital camera to iPod photo and import their photos into the iPod directly. Imported photos are immediately viewable on iPod photo's color screen, and can also be brought back to iPhoto on the Mac or various photo applications on the PC. The iPod Camera Connector is expected to be available in late March for $29.

Most folks don't need 30GB of music, Enderle's group found. So consumers and small to medium sized businesses are taking the music players and using them to take large files home, which he notes is a lot easier than sending it home through an e-mail attachment.

"If you are traveling, you can leave the file on the iPod and access it as an attached storage device," he said.

Enderle noted that when the iPod first made its debut, Apple touted it as a music player and a storage device. That discussion has quieted down, he says, because of fear in the enterprise.

"Companies are scared to death that employees are downloading files into their iPods and taking them home," Enderle said. "It's enough of a security risk that some government accounts are turning their USB ports off. They want to get rid of their pin-attached PS/2 keyboards but they can't because of security concerns with iPods and other USB attached storage. There are settings in the operating system that you can make to make it difficult to download files from a USB device, but it's not completely effective."

Apple IPod
The latest iPod isn't just for music.

The rest of Apple's revamped iPod lineup includes the second-generation iPod mini with a new 4GB model ($199) and a new 6GB model ($249). Both iPod mini models feature increased battery life of up to 18 hours and USB charging.

The additions fall in line with Apple's iPod portfolio, which also includes the $99 512MB iPod shuffle, the $299 iPod 20GB, and the black U2 special edition 20GB iPod. Apple has dropped sales of its iPod 40GB lineup in both standard and color screen editions.