New iPod? - What to Expect at Apple's Event Today


Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) big media event is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. EST today. The main focus is surrounding a revamped iPad line-up, but the company is set to unveil a series of new products and software.

Let's take a quick look at whether Apple might also unveil a line-up of new iPods. 

The product

The iPod was once Apple's most venerable product, but those days are long past as the iPhone and iPad have grown to outshine it. 

Yet, it's important to remember Apple still sells a lot of iPods. At any tech company not named Apple, it'd be a major product. Consider that in the last holiday quarter, Apple sold $2.1 billion worth of iPods. 

So while the product is only about 3% of Apple's sales across the past 12 months, it still has a large following. 

Background

When the iPhone 5S was announced on Sept. 10, one of the phone's three color options was "Space Gray," which replaced the black iPhone 5. At the same time, Apple quietly also released a Space Gray option of the iPod Touch, Nano, and Shuffle. 

The new iPod finishes weren't announced at the iPhone 5S event. This led to some speculation that a slight color update would be all Apple had in mind for this year's line-up of iPods. After all, why release the new Space Gray iPods quietly after the iPhone event if Apple planned to unveil a broader line-up change at its iPad fall event?

Subsequent weeks have only corroborated the idea Apple might skip on an iPod update this year. Apple's Asian supply chain is simply too large to keep product secrecy; we've seen tons of leaks on the new iPad's casing and there were numerous shots of the iPhone 5C's casing and packaging before its announcement. Yet, all has been quiet on the iPod front in recent weeks. There simply hasn't been any real chatter or leaks that a new device is coming. 

What to expect today

Apple passing on updating its iPods isn't without precedent -- there was little in the way of iPod updates in 2011. Instead, the company choose to drop prices and make some minor upgrades.  As 2011 was the release of a mid-cycle "S" iPhone like this year, Apple could be following the same game plan, and will release an iPod Touch update next year. 

If Apple chooses to forgo iPod updates this year, the more interesting side story could be the fate of the iPod Classic. While it's now more of a bit player in Apple's line-up, it hasn't been upgraded since 2009. Yet, Apple continues to sell the device. Will this be the year Apple pulls the plug?

In any event, Apple could surprise, but it looks like iPod news should be light today. Remember to check back into Fool.com tonight for analysis on Apple's event, and what it means for investors in the company. 

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