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Apple prepping for an all-flash iPod lineup?

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Could Apple be getting ready to finally kick those hard drives to the curb and go with flash memory across its iPod lineup? At least one man seems to think so: Prudential Equity Group analyst Jesse Tortora, who compares the swap to Apple's move in 2005 from the 1-inch HDD iPod mini to the NAND flash iPod nano. "Flash memory is clearly more expensive on a $/GB basis than hard disk drives," he says. "However, the late 2005 Nano transition to flash provides a guide as to the point at which the previously mentioned non-cost advantages of flash memory outweigh the cost premium." Apple is in a position to bump its HDD capacities to 120GB thanks to recent advances in perpendicular recording, but while that's great for video capacity, the fact remains you can only get 5.5 hours of video playback out of one of the current models, making additional capacity seemingly a low priority. Tortora sees 32GB as being cost-feasible for later this year, but we'd be surprised to see Apple segment its market with low capacity flash-based video iPods and high capacity HDD-based video iPods, so perhaps they'll manage to swing a 64 gigger by then. Speaking of video iPods, Tortora also claims the next generation of iPods will include an iPhone-esque wide touchscreen, WiFi for Apple TV streaming, and GPS functionality -- something that's been hinted at in certain Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard rumors. Jesse Tortora's track record isn't the greatest, his calls on the iPhone were pretty well off the mark, but the move to flash he details sounds reasonable, and while WiFi and GPS in an iPod seems like a distant dream at the moment, we're sure we could make room in our heart for such functionality.

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