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Apple to 'drop 1GB iPod Shuffle'

Red 1GB Nano on the way?

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Apple's failure to match pre-Macworld speculation and announce a revised iPod Shuffle could have sounded the screen-less music player's death knell. Its replacement, suggests UBS Investment Research analyst Ben Reitzes, will be a 1GB iPod Nano.

Suggestions that Apple is pondering a 1GB Nano were made in December 2005 as 1GB Shuffles became as hard for pre-Christmas buyers to lay their hands on than rocking-horse dung. A note on Apple's website saying the device wouldn't be back in stock until mid-January 2006 indicated to many observers that either the mooted redesign was in the works - or it was for the chop.

Well, it's back, available in its original form and ready to ship in 24 hours, says Apple. However, according to Reitzes, cited by AppleInsider, Apple is "getting set to 'end of life' the Shuffle".

Will a 1GB Nano replace it? That depends on how the lack of 1GB Shuffles played out, we suspect. If it drove buyers to choose the more expensive 2GB Nano instead, there's little need to fill out the line with a, say, $150 1GB Nano. If buyers took the cheaper option, then it may well make sense to launch something only slightly more expensive than the $129 1GB Shuffle but with the clear benefits of a screen and the classic iPod look, something like a 1GB Nano.

There's actually room for both. The gap between the $199 Apple wants for the 2GB Nano and the price of the 1GB Shuffle is calling out to be filled with a higher capacity Shuffle or a lower capacity Nano, ideally the latter. Inventory management difficulties apart, it makes sense to bring the ranges closer together to attract buyers who feel a screen is essential but don't want to pay $199 for it.

Perhaps Apple will use the opportunity to cash in on claims it's preparing a red iPod - made by U2's Bono, allegedly - to raise awareness of Aids in Africa... Imagine it, a 1GB, 'limited edition' red Nano. How will that fly off the shelves? ®

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