OK, so there's been a veritable overload of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) news lately. Given the company's successes -- and the threat of being trumped just as the going gets good -- the whole bushel of brouhaha makes sense. Today, we learned that Apple's releasing a new and improved version of its wildly successful iPod. It may sound like Apple overkill, but it addresses what some considered the device's one possible Achilles heel.

The newest generation of iPod musical players contains a few important features, one of which addresses one of few peeves users had with the gadget -- battery life. Now, the new iPods have 12 hours of juice, compared with the old standard of eight hours.

Also, you get more bang for your buck, storage-wise, with the $299 model featuring 20 gigabytes (GB) of space and the $399 model now sporting 40GB. Other features include improved software features, including greater user flexibility in editing playlists.

It stands to reason that Apple should keep up its momentum. Recent earnings were a home run, with profits tripling on the popularity of the iPod and continued hopes that the device's star power will rev up more demand for the company's computers. Fool contributor Tim Beyers also recently reported on iTunes' 100 millionth download. And, of course, in just a few days the iPod mini will be available overseas.

While more fanfare over this most recent generation of iPods may indeed feel like overkill, Apple's got some reasons for concern, despite the iPod's nearly iconic role on the music scene. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has its own portable entertainment device on the way in August, and Motley Fool Stock Advisorpick Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) as well as Walkman creator Sony (NYSE:SNE) both have their own competing products out there, with rather overt views to unseating the iPod.

I recently opined about the momentum Apple has on its side with the iPod, such as the first-mover advantage, not to mention pop-culture popularity, and I still feel that way. However, behind all the recent happy talk, like today's next-gen launch, is the reality that with the mounting competition, the "i" in front of the company's products has to continue to stand for "innovation."

Here's some more recent Fool coverage on Apple-related events:

Duke's incoming freshmen are reportedly getting free iPods loaded with info about the university, as well as some course content available for download via the Web. Will that become a new trend? Are Mac users really smarter than Windows users? These are some of the hot topics being discussed today on the Apple discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.