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Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Multi-touch video iPods to arrive in August - report

Apple is preparing to launch a next-generation video iPod in August that features a touch-screen panel similar to the iPhone, according to DigiTimes.

Citing "sources at upstream suppliers," the Far Eastern rumor publication reports that Wintek will be supplying the touch panels for the players.

"The Taiwan-based panel maker will begin shipping capacitive touch screen panels in the second half of 2007," DigiTimes said. "The company noted that its touch screen panels will be used with customers' own software and ICs."

During a private meeting last month, Apple's traditionally tigh-lipped chief executive Steve Jobs all but broke the silence on the future of the video iPod. Speaking to employees at the Apple Town Hall, he said a division of the company was hard at work on next-generation iPods that, like iPhone, would run an embedded version of the Mac OS X operating system.

Picking up on Jobs' comments were Wall Street analysts such as Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, who in a report to clients earlier this week suggested that the current iteration of iPhone represents much of what Apple's flagship iPod line will soon be.

"Specifically, we expect Apple to release high capacity iPods based on OS X sometime during or before Macworld '08 in January," he wrote.

According to Munster, whose reports appear to be somewhat speculative, the new video iPod players would likely include touch-screen media features akin to the iPhone, but not include wireless phone capabilities or Internet features.

The last significant update to Apple's video iPod family came almost two years ago, when the company used a media event to introduce 30GB and 60GB models with color screens and video playback capabilities.

Although the video players were refreshed the following fall, the updates were modest at best — they included game support, brighter displays, and 20GB of additional capacity on the high-end model.