Apple to iPod Fans: Get Ready to Rock

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has e-mailed the tech press invites to a media event next Tuesday titled “Let’s Rock” with an image of a man jumping in the air while he listens to an iPod. And one more bit of text, “playing soon.”

The invite just about confirms rumors that have swirled for some time that Apple plans to release new versions of its popular music player. Two analysts quoted by Reuters said they expect Apple to announce price reductions in its iPod Touch device because it sells for more ($299) than the more full-featured iPhone ($199, plus monthly service charges).

“I’m not expecting anything revolutionary,” Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andrew Hargreaves told Reuters.

But another analyst is convinced Tuesdays debut will be more than what would be considered minor upgrades, like price cuts, additional storage and new colors.

“From what we’ve heard from the folks at Apple, this is going to be a pretty big announcement,” Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin told InternetNews.com.

Bajarin thinks Apple is going to extend or enhance the software functionality of the iPod nano and Shuffle so they can run some of the growing list of applications designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch at Apple’s App Store.

“The App Store is so central to Apple’s strategy that it has to keep attracting more developers,” said Bajarin. “With the iPhone 3G launch, the excitement from the hardware to software might have been the fastest transition we’ve ever seen. Apple needs to take advantage of that and get that software on more platforms.”

One expected change is a bigger screen for a new, longer nano for watching video. The current version is only 2 inches.

As it has at past product rollouts, Apple is likely to give an update on iTunes sales and new features for the online music service. In June, Apple announced it had become the leading music retailer in the U.S. with the largest music catalog of over eight million songs. It’s also the most popular online movie store with iTunes customers renting and purchasing over 50,000 movies every day.

Nokia’s “Comes with Music”

On the online music business front, phone giant Nokia announced its “Comes with Music” package on Tuesday. Due out next month initially in the U.K., Comes with Music gives users a year of unlimited access to Nokia’s Music Store catalog. Nokia will provide more details at an event in London scheduled for October 2.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

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