SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple (AAPL) refreshed its iPod offerings in time for the holiday season, with a thin-but-healthy CEO Steve Jobs appearing on stage for the new product unveilings.
As widely expected, the company introduced a redesigned iPod nano, which featured a new elongated shape and an enhanced user interface. Apple said it has taken the accelerometer from its popular iPhone and brought it to the new iPod nano, which will be available in eight different colors. An 8-gigabyte version will retail for $149 and a 16-gigabyte iPod nano will sell for $199.
"It is the thinnest iPod we've ever made," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "It combines the best of both worlds. Video is fantastic on this high-res display." Jobs also said that the iPod has a 73.4% market share in the U.S., compared to 8.6% for SanDisk (SNDK) and 2.6% for Microsoft (MSFT) .
Jobs appeared healthy during the "Let's Rock" event, even offering a joke about the unfinished obituary Bloomberg accidentally published last month. A banner appeared behind Jobs on stage that read "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Jobs' frail appearance during the launch of the iPhone 3G in early June ignited speculation over the Apple CEO's health, as Jobs has battled pancreatic cancer in the past.
The iPod touch also received some cosmetic changes Tuesday. The device is now thinner with a contoured steel design and features a new volume adjuster and a speaker. The iPod touch also has Nike's (NKE) Nike+ hardware built into the device. The 8-GB model is priced at $229, a 16-GB version will sell for $299, and a 32-gigabyte iPod touch is available for $399.
Jobs said Apple will discontinue its 160-gigabyte iPod classic and will instead increase the capacity of the 80-gigabyte version to 120 gigabytes. The new version will retail for $249.
For iPhone users, Jobs said a new software update will be made available that should fix issues regarding dropped calls and dwindling battery life. The time it takes to back up the iPhone to iTunes will also been reduced thanks to the update, which will be available to download on Friday.
Despite the new product introductions, Apple shares continued to slide. Recently, the stock was down $5.19, or 3.3%, to $152.73 and has fallen 23% for the year.
Apple also said it will begin to offer downloads of television shows in high definition through its iTunes store. Jobs also said that shows from General Electric's (GE) NBC Universal division will once again find their way onto the iTunes store. NBC pulled its programming from iTunes in August after a dispute with Apple over pricing.
Jobs said more than 100 million applications have been purchased through the iTunes App Store since its July 11 launch.
Jobs also introduced a software update of iTunes, which includes a new feature called Genius. The new addition sends information about a user's music library so that Apple can learn about an individual's musical tastes and can make custom recommendations.
"What Genius does is allow you to automatically make playlists from your music library that go great together," Jobs said. "It helps you rediscover music in your music library and it really works well, with just one click."
Apple also announced two new sets of headphones compatible with the new iPods. New in-ear headphones with two drivers each will cost $79, while a different set that includes a remote and microphone will retail for $29.