Apple Computer Inc. is expected to unveil new versions of its hot-selling iPod digital music player today, though a weekend of leaks about the gadgets compromised the often-secretive company's desire to keep the lid on the news until the last minute.
The iPods will be cheaper than their forebear and their batteries will boast longer lives, according to Newsweek, which had been briefed on the new players by Chief Executive Steve Jobs and others at Apple for a cover story that was scheduled to be on newsstands today.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday July 20, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Apple iPod -- An article in Monday's Business section about new models of Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod digital music player incorrectly said the 10-gigabyte iPod would sell for $399. The iPod priced at $399 actually has a 40-gigabyte capacity.
But by early Saturday, the website MacRumors.com had tracked down a photo of the Newsweek cover on a server for MSN.com -- which has a news-sharing agreement with the magazine -- and had posted a link to that and to the full text of the story.
On Saturday night, the story and a sidebar were posted at Newsweek.com.
By that point, details about the new iPods were ricocheting around Apple-watching websites including Slashdot.org, iPodlounge.com and MacObserver.com.
One site, ThinkSecret.com, had gotten an early bead on the rumors -- the wrong ones -- reporting Wednesday that new iPods would be revealed in August, have up to 60 gigabytes of memory, be priced similarly to current models and for the first time come in colors including orange and purple. The site corrected itself Saturday.
A MacRumors.com contributor wrote that it was noteworthy that MSN was the one to "ruin Apple's announcement." MSN is run by Microsoft Corp., which makes the competing -- and dominant -- personal computer operating system, Windows.
On Sunday morning, Newsweek's site was down; the site was back up Sunday afternoon, with an additional sidebar detailing all of the news about the new iPods.
The version with 20 gigabytes of memory will retail for $299, and the 10-gigabyte version, which holds about 10,000 songs, will sell for $399, Newsweek says. The batteries will last up to 12 hours, longer than the much-maligned batteries in the original.
The new iPods will be white but will be marked by the absence of the four control buttons under the screen on the original, Newsweek's cover picture shows. On the new models, the buttons' functions are on a click wheel, like the one on the $249 iPod Mini.
Spokespeople for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple didn't return calls to their offices and cellphones Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Having the iPod beans spilled early probably didn't make people happy at Apple, which likes to hold its strategic cards close to its vest until a time and venue of its choosing.
Apple has a history of introducing products in magazines that agree to run cover stories in exchange for access to Jobs, Apple's press-averse founder. Time chronicled the development of Apple's white iMac PC in a cover story in 2002 and Fortune did the same last year for Apple's iTunes Music Store for legally downloading digital music.