Apple expected to unveil enhanced iPod

Times Staff Writer

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is expected to announce a souped-up iPod and a deal to let iPhone users buy ring tones through the iTunes store at an event next week, music industry sources said.

Following its custom, Apple recently sent invitations to analysts and reporters for a Sept. 5 event but didn’t say what it was about. The invitation had pictures of music albums, fueling speculation that Apple would show off something related to the digital music and video player, which dominates its market.

Two music industry executives said Jobs intended to announce a vastly improved version of the iPod with a larger video screen, a touch-screen interface and other features similar to Apple’s iPhone, an iPod that doubles as a cellphone.


The executives asked not to be named, citing the confidentiality of negotiations.

Jobs has been trying to get access to more video content in recent weeks, and he may announce such deals at the event. Wall Street analysts have also said they believed a better video-oriented iPod was imminent.

The two executives and a third said they expected Jobs to announce a system for bringing ring tones to iPhone users. Ring tones -- the sounds produced when mobile calls are received -- have provided an unexpected financial boon for the troubled recording industry.

Users of Apple’s iTunes digital store will be able to order a ring tone and then load it from their computer onto the iPhone, the executives said. Exact pricing could not be determined, but songs that can be used as ring tones are likely to cost slightly more than regular digital songs.

The method won’t work for phones not sold by Apple.

An Apple spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Apple shares, which have responded more to Apple’s efforts in digital media than to its computer sales, have surged in anticipation of the Sept. 5 event.

They closed Thursday up $2.17 at $136.25 after gaining $7.26 on Wednesday.