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IPODS & PORTABLE PLAYERS / PORTABLE DEVICE ISSUES

Apple May Shoot Own iPod Soaps

By David Richards | Monday | 03/09/2007

Apple is set to roll out a massive marketing campaign to start pushing video iPods. Key to the roll out is the sale of addictive TV soaps and series which hook consumers into returning to weekly downloads from the Apple content site.

One insider at Apple has even admitted that the company is looking at its own weekly content however there are concerns over production costs. During the past few months Apple has held discussions with three production companies with a view to sharing costs on the production of exclusive iPod content, however senior executives of Apple are at loggerheads as several believe that Apple should stick to only manufacturing technology hardware and software and not content. 

This week Apple will launch a touch-control video iPod capable of showing blockbuster movies and hit TV shows in widescreen. The new Apple products are being made by Taiwan-based Inventec Appliances who are expected to start volume shipments by the end of this month or in early October.

The new device will allow users to plug the device into a reciever TV or other home theatre device and play content in the same way that consumers plug in their iPods to play music. Other companies manufacturing iPods for Apple are Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) and Asustek Computer.

The latest development of the iPod - described as the sixth generation of the iconic device - is being seen as the company's attempt to maintain sales in the crucial Christmas period.

Following on from the iPhone and the iPod nano - the miniature MP3 player no bigger than a credit card- the device is the latest hot gadget to roll off the production line at Apple.

The company is facing constant pressure to re-invent itself, not least because of the intense competition from the likes of Microsoft, with its rival Zune.

Also in development is understood to be a miniature version of the iPhone, the iPhone nano, and an electronic library allowing people to download and read books on the new widescreen iPods.

The company is also working on giving its iPods a wireless connection to the internet, so speeding up the downloading of music and video to the devices.

The touchscreen was first seen on the iPhone, which launched in the USA earlier this year, and has been the single biggest selling point of the product.

Bringing the same simple operating system to a video and music iPod is seen as a logical next step.

However, while the devices are beautiful and the operating technology is remarkable, doubts remain whether a large number of consumers actually want to watch movies and recorded TV shows on a handheld device.

While the video material currently available to buy from the iTunes service is unlikely to set pulses racing.

The material includes programming from ABC Studios, the Disney Channel, and Viacom's MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Comedy stations.

It emerged last week that NBC Universal had decided not to renew a deal under which its programmes were sold on iTunes. It is understood that NBC had demanded more control over the pricing of its content but was rebuffed.

NBC shows, which include Heroes, had accounted for about 40 per cent of television downloads on iTunes.

Apple's chief executive, Steve Jobs, is set to give a live demonstration of the new product line via video link to a group of European journalists in London.

Technology industry analysts at Goldman Sachs believes that the new range will go some way towards helping Apple maintain its number one status in the gadget market.

It sold 21 million iPods in the first financial quarter of 2007, which covered sales from October to December 2006. Goldman Sachs expects it to sell 19.8 million iPods in the first financial quarter of 2008.

A Goldman Sachs analyst, David C. Bailey, said: "The product announcement is likely to include a full line-up of revamped iPods, with significantly greater functionality at current price points, including the much-anticipated full-screen video iPod."

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