Irresistible rumors: A touch-screen/radio/WiFi iPod.

What will Apple release tomorrow? Nobody knows, but nobody can resist guessing, either.

Published September 4, 2007 11:10PM (EDT)

Here's what we know for sure (well, pretty much for sure): In San Francisco tomorrow, Apple will introduce a new iPod (or new iPods) to the world. What we don't know is everything else -- what the new pod will do, what it'll look like, how much it'll cost, and whether it will offer any relief from crippling existential angst.

The online Apple rumor factory seems to have settled on something, though: we'll see a touch-screen device, people say. Early in 2006, Think Secret reported that Apple was working on an iPod that "will shed the ubiquitous mechanical click wheel for a touch screen and will sport a 3.5-inch diagonal display." Now it says that its report was very early, and that Apple will finally release the click-wheel-free iPod tomorrow:

The new iPod will feature similar dimensions to Apple's iPhone with which it will share the same display, but sources except the iPod to continue to sport a hard drive in place of Flash memory. Solid state media commands a roughly 15-fold price premium per gigabyte over a 1.8-inch hard drive, which is now available in substantial quantities at capacities up to 120GB.

Think Secret says it's "possible" that the new device will also include wireless capabilities, but it dismisses some outlets' claims that the iPod will offer a streaming digital radio service.

Over the weekend the Washington Post also came down on the side of a wireless iPod. The paper obtained documents from a company that works with Apple; the documents show Apple preparing for "an iPod with WiFi and a touch screen like that on the iPhone," the paper says.

The Post's documents also point to another device, this one too supported by a long history of rumors -- "an iPhone Nano priced lower than the cheapest iPhone, which sells for $500."

Amidst all the rumor and expectation, we had one solid bit of information about Apple today. The iPhone -- the not-at-all-a-rumor device that debuted in June -- is now the bestselling "smart phone" in the country, outselling any Blackberry, Palm, Nokia, or Motorola with comparable features, according to the tech research firm iSuppli.

But iSuppli, like everyone else who talks about Apple, also has a hard time resisting predicting the future. The company forecasts that Apple will sell 30 million iPhones in 2011.

Hmm -- wouldn't that depend on what happens tomorrow?

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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