Apple is set to launch a new version of its iPod MP3 player later this month in a move that will see its rumoured online music service see the light of day and explain why the current 5GB model is proving so hard to find.
However, the new version may not be enough to get Dell back on board - it has just stopped selling the Windows iPod, after Apple rewrote its reseller Ts&Cs.
The changes Apple made to its dealer contracts - and Dell's decision to ditch the iPod, for that matter - was first revealed by our chums over at Think Secret and we have them to thank for this latest iPod info.
The new model, to be offered in 15GB and 30GB incarnations, not only sports a redesigned control system that adds QuickTime Player-style, fast forward, and track skip (forward and backward) buttons, removing them from around the scroll wheel, but will ship with a music transfer/recharge cradle.
Fortunately the cradle doesn't replace the iPod's 1394 port, but provides a more consumer-friendly way of sitting the iPod on your desktop. It also provides a USB 2.0 connection for Windows users.
Think Secret's sources reckon the new iPod will arrive at the end of the month, priced at $399 and $499, with the current 10GB version taking a price cut to $299.
The release may be accompanied by revised iPod software, potentially to support Apple's online music service, which would allow users to download tracks straight to their iPod. The service is believed to be based not on MP3, but Dolby's AAC, which would require a iPod software update. ®