Analyst: New shuffle coming, RF interference, EMI playing nice

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has released a new research note that touches upon three topics of interest to iPod owners. Wu discusses the the possibility of a new iPod shuffle in January, the presence of minor RF interference with GSM cell phones and new iPods, and EMI making iTunes-friendly copy-protected CDs.

Wu said the iPod shuffle is due for a refresh as early as January, possibly at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. “We believe this is a key reason why Apple is adding Hynix as a third NAND flash provider in addition to Samsung and Toshiba,” Wu wrote in the report obtained by iLounge. “We are hearing of an even smaller form factor (smaller than a stick of gum) and the potential for the re-introduction of multiple colors, particularly popular among women, including black. We believe price points ($99 and $129) and storage capacities (512 MB and 1 GB) will be similar to the current offerings to minimize overlap with the iPod nano.”

The analyst also explained the RF issue that some iPod users have experienced. “We believe there may be a minor RF (radio frequency) interference problem with the new iPods in isolated cases when they are placed very near a ringing GSM cell phone,” Wu wrote. “From our checks, it appears to impact GSM and not CDMA phones and only on nanos and vPods. When a ringing GSM phone is directly in front of the click wheel, the iPod could go ‘crazy’ and its volume could fluctuate uncontrollably (reminds us of R2D2 when shot by a laser gun). We do not believe this impacts most users in everyday use. We believe this problem could be easily fixed by applying better or more foil tape inside the iPod similar to cell phones and other devices in shielding interference.”

Finally, Wu notes that EMI is planning to ship new copy-protected CDs that are compatible with iTunes. “This is a significant change from its previous stance of shipping Windows PlaysForSure DRM CDs that do not work with iTunes,” the analyst said. “We view this as a positive development and believe other labels could follow.”

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