Apple's making good on allegations its iPod Nanos from a few years back in Japan were a fire hazard, with a unit-for-unit replacement scheme. Simultaneously there's a rumor about the upcoming Touch refresh—one that'll set iPods on fire, in a totally good way.
Apple's had a rough ride in Japan over allegations its 2005-edition iPod Nanos were unsafe, and had recently chosen to respond to pressure from the country's Consumer Affairs Agency and trade ministry by offering to replace the batteries in any units consumers may be concerned about. It's just updated its website to announce that it'll be replacing the entire iPod, which is great news for Japanese consumers.
But let's put this into perspective: There were just six incidents concerning the device's flamey potential reported since 2008, referring by then to a device that was at least three years old. All lithium-battery-powered devices carry a small risk of battery flaws due to the huge complexity of the chemistry, physics, and electronics that goes into their design (seriously—look them up, they're much more sophisticated than you may think) and even Japan's own Sony was recently embroiled in a case that saw the forced recall of hundreds of thousands of defective batteries used to power a wide range of laptop PCs. Hopefully Apple will quickly move past this recent fuss over nothing (much like Antennagate—which, when you get down to it, actually does not represent a serious problem at all to the only people who matter, the end-use consumer).
Because there's much more interesting Apple news, or at least rumors, out there. This time it's about the iPod Touch, and it's hotly-anticipated 2010 refresh. What's on the cards? Daring Fireball's John Gruber (curiously well-connected inside Apple, it seems—and who recently called the Magic Trackpad's existence correctly) is saying the refresh could come inside "a few weeks." That's interesting, all by itself, as that could mean as soon as next Tuesday, and Apple usually waits until September to update its iPod lineup (dare we imagine this clears the decks for a late September launch of a whole new product?).
More interesting is that he hints it'll be sporting two cameras, one for webcam FaceTime chatting and one for photography. This was expected in last year's refresh, but it's got to be a dead-cert now. There's also direct mention of a "retina display" just like the new iPhone 4's, and this makes perfect sense.
We don't know if the iPod will get a makeover to polish its looks to something like the iPhone 4's, with dual glass faces and a metal ring, but we can probably expect Apple to carry over several of the design elements, if only for economies of scale on the production line. We're thinking a squarer shape than the last iPod Touch, and a flat back which may either be of metal or plastic. Though Gruber made no mention of the internals, we'd expect the new Touch to get the A4 processor inside, so it'll literally blaze along, though we're not sure about more memory, as Apple shied away from that on the iPhone.
Oh ... and as a completely speculative piece of thinking: Don't expect to see the iPod Classic renewed. It's had its day.
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