iPod — Cheaper and Better

Apple Computer Inc. has unveiled two new models of the iPod, which offer a longer battery life and lower prices. The new models have up to 12 hours of rechargeable battery life, compared to about eight hours with the current crop. The prices are $299 for a 20-gigabyte model and $399 for a 40-gigabyte model — each $100 less than their earlier counterparts.

Is this about improving the product and innovation? Or is this about competition? Rivals such as Dell and Creative Labs are both trying to undercut Apple in price, and Microsoft says it’ll roll out a raft of new audio gadgets by Christmas.

Kudos to Apple’s rivals for helping to spur Apple’s innovations. Steve Jobs finally cut the price down from $500, which has enabled him to “skim” the market, given his 30 percent share of all portable music players. Fans of the iPod are also able to enjoy longer playback without having to recharge their gadgets. With due respect to DHL, its ad logo speaks to consumers: “Competition is bad for them, but great for you.”

Do you think Steve Jobs has made a smart move? What would you like to see in the Jobs-rival show?FCS