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Apple stirs speculation over upcoming event

Apple is prompting speculation on the Internet that the company would unveil a long-rumored video iPod.
/ Source: Reuters

Apple Computer Inc. has e-mailed invitations to reporters for a special event next week, prompting speculation on the Internet that the company would unveil a long-rumored iPod that can display videos.

The invitation from Apple, which is notoriously tight-lipped about its future products, said simply: "One more thing..."

Early last month, Apple unveiled its pencil-thin iPod nano, which holds up to 1,000 songs and replaced the iPod mini, then the most popular iPod model.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has in recent years at conferences and events saved the largest products that most delight the Apple faithful toward the end of his keynote speech, prefacing the announcement with the phrase, "Oh, and one more thing" or a variant.

Apple enthusiast Web sites, including AppleInsider, speculated Tuesday that the Oct. 12 announcement could well be a video iPod that has long been rumored.  Apple declined to comment beyond the invitation.

Many analysts have said Apple is all but certain to introduce a version of the No. 1 digital music player that can also play video.  Most models of the current iPods, in addition to playing music, can also display photos and perform other functions with accessories that are sold separately.

"There's a whole generation coming up that doesn't have a lot in their checking account but will some day, who think this is a cool idea," said Roger Kay, president of market research firm Endpoint Technology Associates, referring to a video iPod.

"Apple Computer has begun production of a new version of its iPod digital music player that will be capable of playing videos, AppleInsider has learned," according to a Tuesday post on the AppleInsider Web site.  "Sources who claim to have seen the new iPod describe it as being similar to Apple's 60 GB iPod photo player, but several millimeters thinner."

The invitation itself from Apple gave no indication what the announcement might be, but in a separate post on Tuesday on AppleInsider, the site said: "Recent information suggests that Apple may be preparing to introduce a version of its iPod with video capabilities."

While Jobs has publicly downplayed the notion of a video iPod, saying that most people don't want to watch videos when they're on the move, many in the industry have been expecting such a product for some time.

"It would be a very Jobsian move to say it's stupid and bring one out anyway," Kay said, referring to an iPod that plays video.  Kay added that Apple would need to have wrapped up agreements with major studios and record labels over copyright protection and antipiracy technology similar to its FairPlay digital rights management software used in iPods and on its iTunes online music store.

Apple, which sold more than 6 million iPods in its most recent quarter, accounting for about a third of overall company revenue, has 75 percent of the market for digital music players, according to market research firm NPD Group Inc.