By Carl Howe
Here's a quick summary of yesterday's announcement-filled Apple (AAPL) special event in San Francisco:
$0.99 make-them-yourself ringtones in iTunes
iPod shuffles in new colors, but not new storage capacities.
iPod nanos sporting video and CoverFlow interfaces.
iPod classics in 80 and 160 GByte sizes.
An iPhone-clone without the phone functionality called the iPod touch. It includes WiFi, but is even thinner than an iPhone. It costs $299 for 8 GB and $399 for 16 GBytes.
The iTunes Music store will now be available via WiFi on both iPod touches and iPhones.
iPhones and iPod owners can now buy music tracks being played in Starbucks stores over WiFi as they hear them.
Apple has lowered the price on the 8 GByte iPhone to $399; the 4 GByte version has been discontinued, but will be sold while supplies last.
A few implications of this event:
1. iPods are going to remain a hot product this holiday season
2. The market for iPhones just got significantly larger.
3. iPhone competitors such as Nokia and RIM selling phones at $400+ now have serious competition from iPhone's significantly better user experience.
4. The iTunes WiFi music store and the Starbucks relationship is going to accelerate impulse digital music purchases.
5. Apple's 100 million+ iPod and iPhone user base is creating an iTunes exclusive buying community and making the iTunes store a must-have location for content distributors. And the delivery of video capable iPod nanos -- Apple's most popular iPod -- should give TV show distributors like NBC pause that they can reach that user base without being on iTunes.
This truly was a special event. But no one should think the competitive landscape is now set, because there's still one more Apple event coming: the release of Leopard in October. The big question: has Apple left the biggest announcement of 2007 for last?