Apple announces new iPods this Wednesday. So what can we expect? Based on rumors I've read from here and there and some gut feel, here we go:
Hunch #1 -- The iPod touch. Apple expands the capabilities of the iPod but very carefully so -- to not step on the iPhone product line. A new iPod borrows the touch screen interface from the iPhone and has the capability to purchase songs directly from the iTunes Store wirelessly (with an available wi-fi connection). The wi-fi capability is specifically for purchasing songs. Want e-mail or web browsing? Get an iPhone. This new iPod runs OS X, the same operating system Apple runs on Mac computers, the Apple TV device and the iPhone. As with the iPhone, Apple uses flash memory for durability. Apple calls this new iPod line the "iPod touch" and releases it in two models -- 16 GB or 32 GB, selling for $349 or $449, respectively.
Hunch #2 -- The hard drive iPod lives on. While larger amounts of flash memory are relatively expensive and since some customers (such as DJs) need a lot of storage, Apple keeps the current hard drive iPod product line for now, reducing the price of the 80 GB model from $349 to $299 and adding a 120 GB model for $399.
Hunch #3 -- The larger-screen but "even thinner" iPod nano. The larger screen means that photos are now bigger than a postage stamp and also that videos can now be played on the nano. The resultant product line looks like a shrunken-down version of the current hard drive iPod. No OS X, wi-fi or touch interface. Some new colors in the mix. Same storage capacities and prices as before -- 2/4/8 GB at $149/$199/$249, respectively.
Hunch #4 -- The iPod shuffle stays about the same. It adds some new colors, stays at $79, but goes from 1 GB to 2 GB.
The resultant product line looks like this:
$79 - 2 GB iPod shuffle
$149 - 2 GB iPod nano
$199 - 4 GB iPod nano
$249 - 8 GB iPod nano
$299 - 80 GB iPod
$349 - 16 GB iPod touch
$399 - 120 GB iPod
$449 - 32 GB iPod touch
$499 - 4 GB iPhone
$599 - 8 GB iPhone
I'll be grading my hunches after the actual announcements on Wednesday.