Apple Computer on Tuesday unveiled the first device in its new digital hub strategy, which aims to make PCs the center of a world of independent, intelligent digital tools. The iPod, a new portable music player, can hold up to 1,000 CD-quality songs and integrates closely with Apple's existing hardware and audio software.
"This is one spoke in the wheel" of Apple's new strategy, says Tim Deal, a Technology Business Research analyst. "When people see that there's more to them than just desktops and laptops, it will create more value in the line."
The smooth stainless-steel unit is the size of a pack of cards, and it contains a 5-Gbyte hard drive and up to 20 minutes of anti-skip protection. It connects to a Macintosh using a FireWire connection, which lets it transfer an entire CD in less than 10 seconds. The iPod also can hot sync with a music library created using Apple's iTunes software. The device's lithium polymer battery lasts more than 10 hours and recharges automatically using power supplied over the FireWire cable. It will be available Nov. 10 with a retail price of $399.
Deal says to expect more devices like the iPod in the coming year, as Apple aims to expand its digital hub strategy. "We may see something along the lines of digital video," he says. "That's just a guess, but it's Apple's strong point."