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New iPods for the holidays

Apple exec says some "very innovative" iPods are coming this year. Does that mean Wednesday?

Apple Computer plans to introduce more iPods before the end of the year, a company executive said Tuesday.

Executive Vice President Tim Cook didn't say whether the new iPods will come at a press event Apple has scheduled for Wednesday morning. But during a conference call with analysts, he suggested that the iPod Nano won't be the last new iPod of the year.

"Over a year ago, we set out to create revolutionary updates to our core iPod lineup," Cook said. "Last quarter was the final quarter for the older products. We think we did rather well with the prior lineup and believe that we will do even better with the new lineup that we have for the holiday season, including the new iPod Nano and some very innovative new products that we have yet to introduce."

There has been that Apple might add video-playing abilities to its hard-drive-based iPod lineup, though some have said that possibility is less likely given Apple CEO Steve Jobs' negative comments about such a device and the difficulties associated with making available the kinds of commercial video that would make such a device popular.

Although record-label executives have confirmed that Apple has sought wide-ranging licenses to sell music videos through iTunes, movie studios have yet to make feature films similarly available.

"If you're talking about a video iPod, what would drive the demand? Music videos? You have a whole generation of people already conditioned to getting those for free," said GartnerG2 research analyst Mike McGuire.

Apple has continued to grow its iPod sales, though the growth has slowed from the meteoric rise of several months ago. In the company's most recent quarter, which ended Sept. 24, Apple sold 6.45 million iPods. That's three times the number it sold a year ago, but up just 5 percent from the prior quarter.

One challenge for Apple is that demand for the iPod Nano strongly outstripped Apple's ability to supply the flash-memory-based music players. The company said Tuesday that its efforts to meet demand for the iPod Nano are being crimped by a parts shortage.

"It is a component constraint," Cook said during the conference call. "I don't want to go further with which one (it is)."

Apple said it shipped 1 million Nanos during the first 17 days the player was on the market, but said demand was far greater and that the company does not know when it will have enough supplies to meet demand.

On the Mac side of things, Apple noted that its inventories are below its desired range. The company said it hopes to correct that, but did not say whether new Mac models would be the ones used to replenish shelves.

News.com reporter John Borland contributed to this report.