CUPERTINO — Apple Computer Inc. unveiled a portable digital music device Tuesday that is the size of a deck of cards but holds 1,000 digitally recorded songs.
The MP3 player, called iPod, works only on Macintoshes running Apple’s proprietary operating systems and iTunes 2, the company’s latest music software. The device will cost $399 and be available Nov. 10.
Despite the slumping economy, analysts expect the iPod to sell well among the 7 million users already equipped with Macintoshes compatible with the device.
“People aren’t willing to buy a new personal computer but they are willing to buy things to accessorize it,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Giga Information Group.
The sleek, 6.5-ounce gadget is the first portable music player that transfers files via FireWire — a faster cable than the Universal Serial Bus cables commonly used for many digital devices. A CD worth of music would take 5 to 10 seconds to download to the player, versus 5 hours needed via USB, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said.
Jobs introduced the product to 300 reporters and analysts at an event complete with a video promotion featuring endorsements from recording artists such as Moby and SmashMouth.
The device, which runs on Mac OS 9.2.1 and Mac OS X Version 10.1, boasts a battery life of 10 hours and has a 5 gigabyte hard drive.
“We think this is a major, major breakthrough,” Jobs said.
“This definitely raises the bar in portable music devices in terms of industrial design and capacity,” said Susan Kevorkian, an analyst with International Data Corp.
The iPod is part of the “digital lifestyle” that Jobs promoted since January.
Until Tuesday, Apple had introduced only software products to make its Macs the hub for digital music, video and pictures. IPod is Apple’s first consumer electronics gadget. More devices will follow, Jobs said.
Apple, which has five percent of the worldwide PC market, also hopes to gain new customers with the device.
“We’re starting to add more and more reasons for people to come back to Mac or to choose a Mac,” said Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide product marketing.