Apple's iPod Touch is still an important product for Apple and its fans, but a relative underdog compared with its iOS peers.
Josh P. Miller/CNET)
I think it's fair to say that the iPod is the most important product Apple ever made. It marked the tipping point between Apple's history as a computer manufacturer and its shift toward mobile consumer electronics. Without it, there would be no iTunes, no iPhone, no iPad -- none of the things people think of when they think of Apple today.
Which is not to say that the iPod is still an important part of Apple's bottom line. It could ax the iPod's whole division and still make more money from the iPhone and iPad than it knows what to do with.
But the iPod isn't going anywhere. Year after year, Apple has used its preholiday announcement to refresh the iPod lineup, and we have no reason to believe that it will change this year. If the scant rumors we've seen are any indication, here's what you can expect from the 2012 crop of iPods.
A bigger iPod Touch
In the wake of the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7, everybody wants to see if Apple can come out with a rival priced at $199. The truth is, it's had one for years.