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Apple preparing low-cost iPods for market

Apple's iPod has become an undisputed success story over the past two calendar years. Stock of the sleek palm-sized digital music players have been flying off store shelves during the holiday season, with many retail outlets throughout the United Kingdom and US citing short supply. However, with a base price of $299 for a 10GB model, Apple's iPod is not accessible to everyone.

In October, company CEO, Steve Jobs, acknowledged the pricey drawbacks of the iPod in an interview with Newsweek. "We’d love to have a $100 iPod! We just don’t know how to do it right now," Jobs said. "We’re constantly trying to make cheaper iPods. We’re working on the next step." According to the usual suspects, the 'next step' may come as early as January's Macworld Expo.

Albeit unconfirmed, sources with proven track-records claim that a pair of low-cost iPod music players are amongst the many closely guarded secrets at Apple's 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino campus. The pocket-sized models are said to exist in both 2 and 4GB configurations and will carry a very modest price tag as compared to the company's current offerings, though no specifics were available.

Rumors of the low-cost Apple iPods began to sizzle after successive reports from AppleTurns and MacRumors hit the Web earlier this month. According to an unconfirmed MacRumors report, a 2GB "mini" iPod has recently been making the rounds amongst industry insiders, and was noted to come in a variety of colors.

Although details are scarce, the low-cost players are said to feature a more restrictive set of capabilities, but fall below the $200 threshold. Sources say that Apple will continue its aggressive stance in the digital music sector with an introduction of the miniature pods in January of next year.

NewOrder helped contribute to this report.