Revealed: Next Gen Mid Sized iPod Details
Apple’s plan for a new type of media device has been uncovered by my iPod source. The new mid sized media player is certain to be a next generation Nano or Nano replacement, although it’s still early for the device to be designated a marketing name by Apple and my source is reluctant to call it a Nano. What lends enormous credibility to this plan is how well it coordinates with Apple’s desire to introduce an entry level iPhone and the time frame involved.
My iPod source had previously revealed that the physical interface in Apple’s mid sized media player would slowly be phased out in favor of a touch screen and that we could potentially see Apple market an upgraded Nano as well as a touch-screened version side by side; much like the strategy the company adopted in introducing iPod Touch and iPod Classic together in Fall 2007. The time frame mentioned for this scenario was between Fall 2008 and Macworld 2009. What was unclear at the time was how Apple planned to implement a multi-touch screen on a Nano-sized device and what sort of functionalities would be sacrificed due to a limited working space. The picture that is now beginning to emerge is a new take on the idea of touch interface which would address concerns unique to a small device.
My source describes plans for a device which is about the size of a first or second generation Nano but missing the click wheel. The entire face of the device is covered by 2 screens and navigation is said to be carried out using the lower 1/3 of the device. The plans call for a separate lower touch screen to display menu icons and positions based on currently selected functionality so music, photos, movies, and game navigation would each get their own unique menus and the user would select icons by simply touching them. This scheme is not entirely unlike the idea behind navigation on newer handsets such as the Samsung Soul or the Motorola ROKR E8, although those devices have touch pads. The advantages for Apple in using a partly touch sensitive screen instead of a larger touch-screen are twofold: Apple saves on the cost of hardware for implementing a smaller touch-screen with limited functionalities suited for a small device, and Apple retains distinct product differentiation across the Nano and Touch lines. Effectively, capabilities such as multi-touch and WiFi will continue to remain unique to the iPod Touch while a future Nano can still claim to feature touch navigation.
Another interesting tidbit here is the strong likelihood that Apple will use the same future Nano platform to build and release an entry level iPhone. My iPhone source had revealed some time ago that Apple has planned a three-tier iPhone product scheme and that multi-touch functionality on current iPhones will not be offered on a lower level product. Details of the new Nano seem to provide the missing piece of the puzzle: the iPod Touch and the iPhone share a common platform and so will a future Nano and entry level iPhone. Stay tuned as it should be an exciting September ahead.