Parents, beware.

Just in time for school—and the holiday shopping season—Apple is refreshing its entire line-up of iPod music players, rolling out a new touch-screen player based on its iPhone as well as a revamped iPod Nano that’s even smaller and thinner than before.

Apple also chopped the price of its biggest and best-selling 8-gigabyte iPhone model from $599 to $399 (from Rs24,500 to Rs16,300), barely two months after it started selling them. The smaller 4GB phone, which had sold for $399, will be discontinued.

“This is beginning to look like the holidays are going to belong to Apple again," said technology industry analyst Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research. He said the price drop for the 8GB iPhone wasn’t necessarily a sign that the phones weren’t selling as well as expected, but was probably long planned by Apple to boost holiday sales.

While most of Apple’s new iPods decrease in size, they increase in capacity and battery life. The refreshed $349 model of what Apple now calls its Classic iPod, for instance, boasts 160GB of storage space.

“When we started with our first iPod five years ago, it put 1,000 songs in your pocket," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “This new 160-gigabyte iPod Classic, which is far smaller than the original iPod, puts 40,000 songs in your pocket. It’s just amazing."

The most noticeably different change is to the Nano. The new model is significantly smaller and thinner than previous versions. Nevertheless, it comes with a larger 2.5-inch screen that can display video and starts at $149 for a 4GB version.

It was the new iPod Touch, however, that stole the show at an Apple media and analyst event here.

Touch is almost identical to the iPhone, except it lacks cell phone capabilities. It does come with Wi-Fi wireless Internet capabilities, however, and a Web browser and direct connections to a new Wi-Fi iTunes music store. Thanks to a partnership between Apple and the Starbucks coffee chain, the phone will let users automatically download songs that are playing at Starbucks stores within Wi-Fi range.

The new iPod Touch will be available later this month and sell for $299 for the 8GB model and $399 for the 16GB model.

Last week, Apple also unveiled colourful additions to its line of tiny Shuffle players, and also announced a new version of its iTunes music store, which includes downloadable ring tones for the iPhone.

Jupiter analyst Gartenberg said the refreshed iPods, coupled with the cheaper iPhone and new iPod Touch, would likely help Apple extend its reach beyond its core base of ardent fans. The announcements, he said, aren’t “about Apple just preaching to its choir anymore. It’s about bringing more people into the church."

The New York Times/Cox News Service

Write to