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Apple plans announcement; some see new iPod

Apple will announce a new product in early September and fanned expectations it will introduce an updated iPod Shuffle.
/ Source: Reuters

Apple Computer Inc. said it will announce a new product in early September and fanned expectations it will introduce an updated iPod Shuffle music player with much more capacity.

Apple is known for its marketing prowess and keeps new products under tight wraps before unveiling them at carefully staged events.

The company is widely expected to introduce a relatively roomy four-gigabyte iPod which uses sticks of flash memory, the type of storage used in digital cameras, rather than a hard disk drive.  That would hold about 1,000 songs.

In an email invitation showing a picture of a jeans pocket, Apple alluded to its original 2001 announcement for the portable iPod, saying, "1,000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again."

Apple plans a San Francisco news conference on Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. PDT.  Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris declined to comment further.

Apple introduced its portable music player in late 2001 with the promise that it could hold 1,000 songs.  The first iPod was powered by a hard disk drive, but this year Apple introduced the "Shuffle" with flash memory to hold data.

Industry analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. in Campbell, California, said the news could be a new 4-gigabyte Shuffle, which would have four times the memory of the current model.

"The obvious news may be the higher density iPod Shuffle," he said. "But (Apple CEO Steve Jobs) may have something else up his sleeve. Steve loves surprises," he said.

Recent analyst reports out of Asia have noted that Apple plans to buy as much as 40 percent of the flash memory chips produced by South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. , the world's second largest chip maker and the largest maker of flash memory used in music players.

Apple currently sells three types of iPods: the classic high-capacity hard-disk iPod capable of storing up to 15,000 songs on 60 gigabytes; the iPod Mini, which comes in two versions, either four- or six-gigabyte hard disk models; and the Shuffle.

Cupertino, California-based Apple has come to dominate the digital music player market, accounting for some three-quarters of industry sales this year, according to analysts estimates.

Apple shipped 6.2 million iPods in its latest quarter.