Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) unleashed a flurry of product announcements yesterday, but the new iPod touch may be the most exciting new gadget in the lineup.
Sure, the multitouch iPod nano is adorable. The $49 iPod shuffle just became more functional. But the iPod touch takes the biggest step up, with features that make it more like an iPhone than simply an iPad mini. Let's go over some of the new goodies the iPod touch is packing, and single out the public companies that stand to gain or lose along the way.
True to the tidbits leaked by British retailer John Lewis two months ago, the new iPod touch will come with a front-facing camera for Apple's FaceTime video chat and a rear-facing camera for HD recording. Kodak (NYSE: EK ) 's Zi and Cisco's (Nasdaq: CSCO ) Flip have slightly cheaper handheld cameras that record in HD, but then again, they're only cameras.
On the gaming front, the same A4 chip that powers Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad should enhance the iPod touch's gaming experience. Its new three-axis gyroscope can't hurt, either. There's also the new Game Center app, which will encourage multiplayer action for players on a Wi-Fi connection. Those wails of despair you're hearing from Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Nintendo's (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) headquarters aren't coincidental.
Diehard gamers may argue that console games are no match for cheap App Store offerings, but the disparity narrows when you limit your comparisons to portable gaming systems. The lack of physical controller buttons is a knock against Apple, but Nintendo can't seriously continue to claim that the iPod touch isn't making a dent in this niche.
Another loser, naturally, will be Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) . Once again, its Zune has an even higher hurdle to clear in its fruitless quest for relevance. Also, Game Center presents more of a direct challenge to Mr. Softy's plans to integrate gaming as a key component of its new Windows Phone 7.
I'm also thinking that SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK ) will be a net loser here. The flash memory champ makes storage cards for digital cameras, and even memory sticks for Sony PSP devices. The iPod touch is flash-memory based, but it's not expandable. If it fills up with snapshots or videos, the content simply gets transferred to a computer hard drive to make more room.
Once again, Apple's success seems to come at others' expense. I wouldn't want to be any of these rivals today.
Beyond Apple, are there any publicly traded winners here if the new iPod touch is a hit? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.