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Old 09-05-2007, 09:29 PM
Jason Dunn
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160
Default Apple Throws Down the Gauntlet, Picks it Up, Smacks Zune in the Face

Today isn't a good day to be a Zune fan, that's for sure. Why? Because Apple unleashed a new wave of iPods today, and they're every bit as impressive as I was fearing they'd be. This was no simple product refresh with memory bumps and price drops - no, this is a whole new generation of iPods.

As I followed Engadget's excellent coverage, I was blown away by what I was seeing. Here are the very brief highlights of where the iPod lineup now stands and what I find most significant about each one:
  • iPod Shuffle: not much changed here other than new colours. Same design, which works really well for the target market, and the price point is $79 USD.
  • iPod Nano: a two inch display running 320 x 240 resolution. The pixel density is off the charts here, which means amazingly smooth and crisp text, images, and video. It can now play games like the bigger iPods can, and is available in five colours. Coverflow support has been added, and it will give you 24 hours of audio and 5 hours of video on a single charge. The price? 4 GB for $149 USD, and 8 GB for $199.
  • iPod Classic: This is currently what the Zune is competing against. The new iPod 80 GB Classic boats 30 hours of audio playback, 6 hours of video. They have a 160 GB version that boosts that number to 40 hours of audio and 7 house of video playback. The price? $249 USD for the 80 GB version and $349 for the 160 GB version. The body of the iPod Classic is described as having a "full metal design", and they're even thinner than before.
  • iPod Touch: This is an iPhone without the phone. 3.5" wide screen display, 480 x 320 resolution, 8mm thick, full multi-touch interface, 802.11 b/g WiFi, and most of the apps from the iPhone: calendar, clock, calculator, contacts, YouTube, Safari web browser, etc. No mention of an email client. 22 hours of audio, 5 hours of video. And the cherry on top? iTunes WiFi Music Store - that's right, full mobile browsing and purchasing of iTunes music. It downloads the song to the iPod Touch, then when you sync it pushes them onto the desktop.
So that's the new iPod line - what can the Zune team do to counteract that? If the rumours about the upcoming Zunes are to be believed, then I have to admit that I'm not hopeful just based on those specifications alone. The Zune team is full of smart people though, and J. Allard isn't to be underestimated, so I hope they have something amazing up their sleeve. If they don't, and this holiday season we see a 4 GB Zune without much more under the hood...then the Zune is in for a very hard road indeed.
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