August 29, 2005

Apple plans announcement; some see new music player

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Computer Inc. on Monday
said it will announce a new product in early September and
fanned expectations it will introduce an updated iPod Shuffle
music player with much more capacity.

Apple is known for its marketing prowess and keeps new
products under tight wraps before unveiling them at carefully
staged events.

The company is widely expected to introduce a relatively
roomy four-gigabyte iPod which uses sticks of flash memory, the
type of storage used in digital cameras, rather than a hard
disk drive. That would hold about 1,000 songs.

In an email invitation showing a picture of a jeans pocket,
Apple alluded to its original 2001 announcement for the
portable iPod, saying, "1,000 songs in your pocket changed
everything. Here we go again."

Apple plans a San Francisco news conference on September 7
at 10 a.m. PDT (1700 GMT). Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris
declined to comment further.

Apple introduced its portable music player in late 2001
with the promise that it could hold 1,000 songs. The first iPod
was powered by a hard disk drive, but this year Apple
introduced the "Shuffle" with flash memory to hold data.

Industry analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. in
Campbell, California, said the news could be a new 4-gigabyte
Shuffle, which would have four times the memory of the current

"The obvious news may be the higher density iPod Shuffle,"
he said. "But (Apple CEO Steve Jobs) may have something else up
his sleeve. Steve loves surprises," he said.

Recent analyst reports out of Asia have noted that Apple
plans to buy as much as 40 percent of the flash memory chips
produced by South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the
world's second largest chip maker and the largest maker of
flash memory used in music players.

Apple currently sells three types of iPods: the classic
high-capacity hard-disk iPod capable of storing up to 15,000
songs on 60 gigabytes; the iPod Mini, which comes in two
versions, either four- or six-gigabyte hard disk models; and
the Shuffle.

Cupertino, California-based Apple has come to dominate the
digital music player market, accounting for some three-quarters
of industry sales this year, according to analysts estimates.

Apple shipped 6.2 million iPods in its latest quarter.