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Apple to reshuffle iPod offerings, mini update to gain color screen

Apple is likely to debut a new iPod mini with a color screen, while rearranging its remaining screen-based iPod offerings.

The pending revision to Apple\'s iPod mini digital music player will gain a color display and remain priced at US$249, ThinkSecret is reporting.

The rumor site claims the player will debut in either a 5GB or 6GB configuration. Like ThinkSecret, recent reports submitted to AppleInsider also raise the question of whether the player will debut in the previously rumored 5GB capacity, or a larger 6GB model. However, the most reliable information is now pointing to a 6GB capacity.

In either case, sources report that Apple will indeed tap Seagate for the microdrives to be used in the player, regardless of which capacity it will sport. And while there has been no official word of a 6GB microdrive from Seagate, it could likely emerge at any time. Western Digital, another company which manufactures 1-inch hard drives, has already announced plans for a 6GB version.

In related news, AppleInsider this week was able to confirm that Apple has been buying 5GB ST1 microdrives from Seagate since at least December. The iPod maker has been using the 5GB drives in the manufacturing of its current 4GB iPod mini, with a firmware block that restricts the usable capacity of the player to 4GB. This has allowed the company keep up with demand for the minis without having to rely on a single supplier of microdrives. Previously Apple had relied solely on component supplier, Hitachi, for its 4GB microdrives.

ThinkSecret also reports that Apple will shift its full line of iPods away from monochrome displays over the course of the year, a tip AppleInsider can partially confirm. According to sources, Apple will soon discontinue the 40GB iPod with a monochrome display. Sources said Apple will likely fill this gap by reducing the cost of its 40GB iPhoto model to $399, and subsequently the 60GB model to $499 —both of which have been selling poorly at their current price points.

Hewlett-Packard, which sells re-branded versions of Apple\'s 20GB and 40GB iPod, has recently entered into a spat with Apple over a lack of price protection offered on the players it buys from Apple. HP, which still has yet to set a date for the release of its re-branded iPod photo player, had at one point halted manufacturing orders for both the iPod models it currently sells. The company feared the burden of biting the full cost of such aforementioned price reductions, or product-line reorganizations.