The final segment of Steve Jobs’s keynote address as the Macworld Expo opened this morning focused on Apple’s hugely successful iPod handheld music player product line. The two millionth iPod was sold in December, one of 730,000 iPods sold in the last quarter of 2004. Jobs announced that the low-end 10 GB member of the family was being upgraded to 15 GB effective today, and keeping its $299 price; the 30 GB and 40 GB models stay the same, at $399 and $499 respectively.
But Apple, not satisfied with 31 percent of the handheld music player market share, decided to go after another chunk. About another 31 percent of the market represents high-end ($100-200) flash memory players, and about another 31 percent represents low-end (under $100) flash memory players. "We looked at this high-end flash market," Jobs said, "and we want to go after that." It’s a market typefied by the $199 Rio player, typically offering 256 MB of memory and carrying just 60 songs in a 0.8- to 1.2-inch form factor with a bad user interface.
Apple’s answer is the iPod mini, a multi-colored lineup of smaller players the size of a business card and just half an inch thick. With 4 GB of storage, the iPod mini carries 1,000 songs, and combines Apple’s solid-state scroll wheel with buttons under the wheel. The iPod mini comes with both Firewire and USB-2 cables to connect to Macintosh or Windows computers, charging the battery from either connection, and a belt clip; a dock stand and armband clip are optional accessories. The $249 player, which will be available in the U.S. next month and worldwide in April, will come in silver, gold, blue, pink, and green metallic hues.