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Apple Announces…

You have to live under a rock to not know about the Apple announcement going on today. It’s press only, and the invites seemed to indicate an iPod update (which makes perfect sense). Journalists and bloggers are gathered in the Moscone Center in SF as I write this, and I’ve got Engadget and Ars auto-refreshing, watching my Twitter stream, and chatting with a few friends on Google Talk. Oh, and writing this post. :-)

No news yet, except that the Apple Store site for the U.S. is down. I’ll update this post as the announcement goes along.

I’m also playing with the brand new MarsEdit 2 to write and update this entry. I’m really liking it so far, and I’ll probably plop down the money for it when the trial period ends.

Oh, man. It appears that Twitter has fallen over and died. Probably overwhelmed from the traffic. It’s rough being the world’s backchannel.

First up: iTunes. Talking about how huge the iTunes music store is. 3rd largest music seller in the U.S. Largest electronic music store in the world. A third of the music released in the U.S. last year as digital only. Wow. New version of iTunes shipping tonight, with… Ringtones! Yawn. And it will only cost you $0.99 ABOVE what you already paid for the track in iTMS. What about MP3s that I’ve ripped or downloaded? Rumor mill was 100% right on this one. Color me underwhelmed.

Next up: iPods. Every iPod is being updated today. First, the Shuffle gets a PRODUCT(RED) version, and some new colors. Same price. No other changes. Yawn.

The iPod Nano gets a remake – the rumor mill was right on this one, too. The fat Nano is real. 2″ 320×240 color LCD, video and games and Cover Flow, all metal construction (no more plastic caps). More storage, too. 4GB is silver only, $149. 8GB in all colors for $199. Price drop? So much for hopes of a 12 or 16GB model. So I guess the Nano is now just like the full blown iPod, but smaller and flash-based.

So far, the rumor mill is batting 1000.

What about the big boy iPod? The “iPod Classic” will be even thinner, 80GB ($249) and 160GB ($349)models, all metal. Hmm. The “classic” name seems to hint at another iPod model at the top of the lineup… Shipping today, in stores soon. New user interface – whuh?

That brings us to the iPod Touch (rumor mill still 100%). About the same size screen as the iPhone but thinner (8mm). Whoa. That’s REALLY thin. Same multitouch interface from the iPhone. Looks just like the iPhone. Slide to unlock. If it has WiFi and Safari, this is going to be a KILLER product. Not as if they won’t sell millions of them anyway. Aannndd it DOES have WiFi. And Safari for web browsing. I want one of these, and I already have an iPhone. THAT’S how delicious it sounds. It’s got YouTube, too, and I see a calculator icon, but what about email? There are a LOT of empty spots for apps on the home screen. Homebrew hackers, start your engines!

What about storage and price? It’s too thin to have a hard drive, so it must be flash. My bet is on 8GB and 16GB. Gotta entice iPhone owners somehow. Looks like I was right – 8GB for $299, 16GB for $399, available “in a few weeks”. A whole lot of people’s wallets just got three or four hundred dollars lighter. :-)

And now there’s “one more thing”…

iTunes Music Store over WiFi – browse and preview songs on your iPod Touch (and they’d BETTER update the iPhone to use this!), buy songs over the air, and they sync back to your computer next time you sync. Very nice, and once again, the rumor mill was right on.

This is interesting. A partnership with Starbucks. When you go into a Starbucks with an iPod Touch, a new icon will appear on the screen, and with one touch you can buy whatever song is playing in the Starbucks at that moment. That’s kind of cool, but I doubt I’d ever use it. It also apparently includes free access to the iTunes Music Store via WiFi at Starbucks. I wonder if it works for Safari and YouTube, too? That would be pretty cool.

There will be an iPhone update later this month that adds all of these features. Whew.

Oh, and here’s a lovely kick in the teeth. They’re dropping the price on the iPhone. The 8GB model (they appear to be dropping the 4GB model altogether) is now only $399. Compared to the $599 schmucks like me paid TWO MONTHS ago. Gah! And nothing to ease the pain – no “we’re going to give a free Nano to you poor fools who paid $600” or anything. The price we pay to live on the edge in Steve’s world, I guess. Still sucks.

That seems to be it for the announcements. Some musician is up on stage playing now. Let the commentary, raving, and gnashing of teeth begin! :-)

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