June 28, 2005

Apple updates iTunes music system, adds podcast

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday updatedits iTunes digital music service to add the ability to downloadaudio shows called podcasts, and said all of its new high-endiPods will come with color screens.

Apple said version 4.9 of iTunes, the companion service tothe popular iPod music player, will allow users to subscribe toover 3,000 free Podcasts and have each new episodeautomatically delivered via the Internet to their computer andiPod.

Podcasts, or sound files and audio content such as radioshows, have surged in popularity since late in 2004, and willwork on any digital MP3 player. The phenomenon allows users tocreate and upload their own audio programs on the Web, whichthen can be downloaded to multimedia players at a later date.

Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and chief executive, lastmonth said the company would soon support podcasts.

Separately, Apple said it would combine its iPod and iPodPhoto lines, creating a single line of high-capacity musicplayers that all feature color displays, with the ability toview photos on the screen. Apple will now sell a 20 gigabytemodel for $299 and a 60 gigabyte model for $399.

Apple said it will no longer sell high-capacity iPods withmonochrome screens, although screens on the smaller iPod miniline are unchanged. Apple's iPod shuffle devices do not have ascreen.

The Cupertino, California-based company said it hopes theiTunes enhancements will make the service a digital media hubfor users of both iPods and other digital music players. Morethan 430 million songs have been purchased at iTunes.

"Bringing more customers into iTunes (who are) using themusic store is a good thing from Apple's perspective," EddyCue, Apple's vice president of applications, told Reuters. "Weare very excited about bringing the next generation of radio toour customers."

Shares of Apple rose about 24 cents to $37.35 in afternoontrade on Nasdaq.