According to Macnn, one of Apple's latest patents indicates the company may be looking at a unibody design for the iPod Classic--and possibly other products.
In October of last year, Apple began incorporating unibody designs into its new MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. The "revolutionary" manufacturing process creates a seamless enclosure carved from a single piece of aluminum that makes the final product lighter, thinner, and, according to Apple, sturdier. The unibody design may also help shave manufacturing costs.
It seems logical for Apple to switch to a unibody design for its iPod Classic, which currently uses separate aluminum and stainless steel layers. Macnn reports that Apple's patent states that "the sheet metal may be formed in such a way that the final part looks like it was machined down from a large thick slab of material. By utilizing sheet metal, the overall cost of the part can be reduced."
Hopefully, Apple will pass some of that cost savings on to consumers, but chances are you'll just get more capacity and features for your money rather than a more affordable iPod.
The big question is whether the unibody design will apply to even more Apple products. Like Macnn, we're still waiting for Apple to come out with an LCD TV. After all, it's not much of a jump to go from monitors to HDTVs, is it?