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Digging Into Apple's News (Updated: A Refund For Early iPhone Adopters)

Given all the build-up to Apple's announcements yesterday--one blogger concluded his predictions with advice to "get your wallet ready. Dreams are about to come true."--I'm not sure that a few new iPods and a wireless version of the iTunes Store quite amount to front-page news.

But looking at the new iPod nano that Apple's PR department had delivered this morning, I have to say that it does look awfully cool. It's smaller than it looks in pictures--the thing could not be much thinner while still accommodating a standard-size headphone jack. Yet the screen dwarfs the old nano's display. At 2 inches across, diagonally, it's not that much smaller than the 2.5-inch display on a full-sized iPod--what Apple now calls the "iPod classic." (Wait for my review to find out if I can watch a full-length movie on the nano without my eyes bugging out.)

I also had a quick phone conversation earlier today with Apple marketing executive Greg Joswiak about the news. Here are some of the things we went over:

* The iPod touch, perhaps the most fascinating product unveiled yesterday, not only hasn't shipped yet, it doesn't have a ship date more specific than "this month." It is, in fact, not finished yet. Joswiak did, however, confirm that in addition to iPod media playback and WiFi Web browsing, the touch incorporates many of the functions of a traditional personal digital assistant--not only does it carry your address book, you can edit address-book entries. Somewhere at Apple, a grizzled Newton developer must be smiling.

* The new iPod nano can do almost anything the old video-capable iPod could do, with one exception: It can't play games released for that model. All new iPod games, however, should work on the nano as well as the classic and the touch.

* The name iPod classic made me think "product on its way to retirement"--that's what that adjective usually means in Apple-speak. Think of the Mac Classic, a final incarnation of the original 128 kb Mac, or Mac OS Classic, the remnant of the old Mac operating system that didn't survive the transition to Intel processors. Joswiak, however, said Apple simply needed some way to set that model apart now that most iPods can play video: "It needed a name." He also said the higher price of flash memory--and the growing size of people's media libraries--would ensure a role for a hard drive-based iPod for a while to come.

* What about that $200 price drop for the iPhone? Joswiak said he himself was bitten by it--"I bought two of those things for my family at $599"-- but professed that he didn't mind: "I'm glad we got them early." (Not that I expected him to come to any other conclusion!) Apple does provide a 14-day price-protection guarantee on its purchases; I have also seen one report of a customer getting a $100 refund for an iPhone purchased more than 14 days ago.

Update: Apple just posted an "open letter" from Steve Jobs, saying the company will offer a $100 credit to everybody who bought an iPhone at the earlier price:

... we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned.

Have more questions? Ask away at this afternoon's chat--going on right now.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 6, 2007; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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