New iPods Likely To Debut This Week

Apple Computer Inc. could announce new iPods this week, including an iPod mini with a color screen and larger song-storage capacity, as well as a price cut on the current iPod mini, according to analysts and Mac rumor Web sites.

Rumor sites including Think Secret, which cited “highly reliable sources,” saying the next iPod mini will gain a full-color screen while the design of the device will remain largely unchanged.

Also, Banc of America Securities analyst Keith Bachman wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday that “a price cut we expect this week or next should help Apple’s market share” in the market for digital music players, adding that the Cupertino, California-based company will also “offer higher capacity points.”

Apple remains the No. 1 seller of MP3 portable digital music players. According to a survey done for Banc of America Securities of 7,500 MP3 users, Apple’s share of the MP3 player market increased to 40.2 percent in the December quarter, up from 37.5 percent in the September quarter, before the introduction of its flash-memory-chip-based iPod Shuffle.

“We think Apple’s iPod will continue to gain market share for the next 2 to 3 quarters as its Flash-based product (iPod Shuffle) gains momentum,” Bachman wrote.

An expected bump to either a five gigabyte or six gigabyte iPod mini with a color screen will help keep the mini competitive with rival players, a number of which already have color screens, analysts said.

The price for the new mini is expected to remain at its current price of $249 and the four gigabyte mini, the current model, could drop to $199, according to Think Secret.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

The Web site also reported, citing “insider information,” that six new colors will make their debut in the iPod mini line-up this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.


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