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Apple: Video, Bluetooth, radio, 3G iTunes for iPod? Doubt it

Apple: Video, Bluetooth, radio, 3G iTunes for iPod? Doubt it

iPod family album
Apple CEO Steve Jobs today gave strong hints that the company would not be looking to make a pure-play iPod phone or portable video player anytime soon.

With the soft launch of video podcasting and the iTunes Music Store now encouraging the purchase of albums or EPs with a free video, rumours have been rife of a video playing iPod debuting in time for Christmas stockings.

So far, it seems Jobs is yet to see a demand for the device and is unimpressed with the existing video players on the market. Speaking today at Apple's annual European conference, Apple Expo in Paris, he said: "Whether people want to buy a device just to watch video is not clear - so far the answer's been no. Devices that do video... have not been successful yet. No-one's figured out the right formula."

However, he didn't shut the door on a video playing device. "One never knows," he added.

Bluetooth connectivity or a radio -- a common feature in Windows MP3 players -- are even more unlikely additions to the iPod feature set, senior Apple execs revealed today.

Jobs said: "The problem with Bluetooth headphones is that it's not just recharging your iPod, you have to recharge your headphones too. People hate it. There are quality issues - the bandwidth isn't high enough, and even if it does get there some day, people don't want to recharge their headphones."

Jon Rubinstein, head of the iPod division added that, in Apple's experience, customers just don't want radios on their iPods. "Believe it or not, we don't get a lot of requests from customers" for a radio, he said. "We're very hesitant to add new features unless we feel a significant portion of the customer base want it."

Motorola Rokr
Motorola Rokr E1: iTunes phone
One new feature to be found in Motorola phones these days is iTunes functionality, following the launch of the Rokr handset earlier this month. Despite months of collaboration between the two companies to produce the handset, Jobs remains reserved about the take-up of online song shops over mobile phones, saying the difference in cost between using a PC and using a phone to download music, as well as phones' small screens make the process unappealing.

"In terms of buying music over the air - the carriers spent an awful lot of money on their 3G networks and they charge an awful lot of money to download a song to a phone... they might charge $3," he said. "And you have to sync it back to your PC - so let's think about this: you buy songs over the air for â,¬3 a piece and then have to sync it to your PC or you buy them on your PC for less than â,¬1 a piece and then sync it to your phone."

"It's not clear buying over the air makes economic sense - I'm sceptical because of cost," he said.

The iTunes pricing model (£0.79 per song in the UK, â,¬0.99 in Europe, or US$0.99) won't change anytime soon, it seems. Jobs today described any company that wants to raise iTunes' prices as "greedy" and added such a move would push consumers back into the arms of illegal P2P sites.

"Some music companies think the price is perfect right where it is; some music companies might like to do little experimenting with the price but, in general, they think it's perfect right where it is. One of the companies would like to raise prices. The problem is we're still competing with piracy and customers think the price [for iTunes] is really good right where it is," he said.

"If we want to raise prices on iTunes, it just means getting a little greedy - consumers won't like that. It will just be a message to consumers to go back to piracy and that's not good. If the price goes up a lot, they'll go back to piracy and everybody loses. Everybody loses."

According to Apple, UK year-on-year growth has been in the region of 90 per cent. Now Jobs has his eye on other areas of Europe - if only he can defeat the taxman. "We'd like to see that same kind of growth in France and Germany," Jobs said.

"There's issues to work on -- the taxes on the iPod here in France are very high... it's ridiculous."

Editor's note: Apple has not yet announced an Australian iTunes Music Store.

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