Apple demonstrated again today that it can run circles around everyone else with its handheld devices. There will be lots of news coverage of the updates to the iPod line – here’s one article, here’s photos, and here’s an exhaustive rundown of all the details.

The updated versions of the existing iPod line are significantly cheaper, include more storage space, and are thinner than the previous generation. The iPod Nano is reshaped to permit video playback. Album cover display is improved for music playback. There is no product on the market that was even remotely as appealing as the old iPods, and these improvements will make most other manufacturers close up and go home.

The new iPod Touch is a thinner version of the iPhone, without phone calls. It makes for a great demo – the touchscreen, scaling of web pages, rotation from portrait to landscape orientation, cover flow for albums, and other features are really extraordinary. It’s hard to predict whether many people will use the built-in 802.11g wireless – wireless networks can be hard to come by when you’re out and about carrying a handheld device, eh?

There’s a dramatic price drop for the iPhone (and the lower capacity 4Gb iPhone is already off the market), at a time when the iPhone is apparently still selling well. Steve Jobs said Apple was still on track to sell 27 gazillion iPhones before the end of the world. Why the price cut?

And finally, the day before Apple’s rapturous press event, Microsoft announced a price cut on its competing audio player, the Zune. No one came to the press conference. Microsoft press representatives could be seen off to the side, clutching each other and gently sobbing, before leaving to work on their resumes.

Sony announced yesterday that it is ready to challenge Apple with a new online video store. The Wall Street Journal reported that Sony’s effort will offer something or other to the fourteen people that own a PlayStation 3, the PlayStation Portable and a Bravia high-definition television. That sounds promising! Maybe Sony can build on its track record and threaten iTunes!

Maybe not.

It’s an iPod world. The volume of accessories designed for iPods is already breathtaking and growing exponentially. By this time you might expect someone to have new ideas for competing products that would chip away at Apple’s domination of the market, but there’s nothing, nothing at all.

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