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Monday, July 10, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple's new iPod nano may sport metal jacket

The next generation of Apple Computer's iPod nano digital music player may dip into the iPod mini's wardrobe, AppleInsider has learned.

In an effort to reduce the player's susceptibility to scratches, Apple has been experimenting with aluminum anodized enclosures similar to those used in the company's iPod mini digital music players, sources familiar with the company's music plans have said.

In what Apple chief executive Steve Jobs called a major gamble, the company last September did away with its aluminum enclosed iPod mini, replacing the player with the ulta-thin polycarbonate-coated iPod nano.

However, the nano almost immediately faced intense scrutiny after a significant number of users began to complain that the front surface of their players easily became scratched or marred during ordinary use. Several lawsuits were later filed against Apple as a result of the scratches.

According to sources, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is so far believed to have committed to the transition away from the nano's polycarbonate-coated shell and towards aluminum enclosures. The new enclosures are expected to debut in color variations similar to those used with the iPod mini, these sources added.

Aside from the enclosure change, the new nanos are expected to sport relatively the same form factor as the existing iPod nano — about three inches tall and a fourth of an inch thin.

Sources also added that Apple is expected to scale the new player's storage capacity up to 8GB when it makes its debut later this fall.