The iPod is dead. Long live the iPod.
Steve Jobs killed a favorite, discontinuing the 160GB iPod Classic, and introduced new models at Apple's "Let's Rock" event today in San Francisco today.
The replacement model is thinner, but has a 120GB hard drive, plenty of space for movies, podcasts and high-quality songs. Most impressive, however, was a completely new iPod Nano, which returns to its older, taller "portrait" orientation, but with much better specifications. Jobs described it as the thinnest iPod ever; it will also be offered in 7 bright colors to go with the standard brushed metal.
The 8GB model will be $150, and the 16Gb model will be $200.
Apple's iPod Touch is also getting a touch-up, with a thinner profile and a shiny metallic backing. It also has an integrated speaker and physical volume control. The 8GB model is $230, the 16GB is $300, and the 32GB one is $400.
Accompanying the new hardware is a new version of Apple's iTunes software, which will include improvements to browsing and accessibility. Most interesting, however, is a new feature called "Genius," which Jobs said would help you "rediscover" the music in your library by dynamically matching tracks.
Information is sent the internet based on your listening preferences, which returns playlist suggestions on demand. Data is anonymously aggregated, and not publicly accessible.The feature would also scale to movies and television shows, Jobs said.
The iPod now has 74.3 percent marketshare, with Sandisk holding at 8.6% and Microsoft back at 2.6%. The rest take up 15.4 percent.
Looking trim, Jobs started the show by issuing the final (and long-expected) slam dunk of the music industry: iTunes is now the main distributor of music in any format, including high street retailers like Wal-Mart.
He also said that NBC would return to iTunes after a year away, and that high-def TV shows would be $3 an episode through iTunes.
iPhone gamers have goodies coming down the pike, too, with Apple's Phil Schiller taking the stage to show off new titles including Need for Speed: Undercover, Gameloft's Real Soccer 2009, Iron Man and Spore Origins.
At the beginning of the show, Jobs mocked speculation about his health, pointing to the projected phrase "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" behind him.
• New iPod Touches feature built-in speaker, volume control, Nike Plus
• iPod Nano 4G confirmed with snazzy new interface and accelerometer functions
• Apple discontinues 160GB iPod Classic: 120GB the only model now