I must be getting old, because I’d not really adequately considered how a photo iPod would be used in the intense social milieu of high school and college students. Anyway, its bascially anecdota, but its an interesting.
Since MacWorld is just around the corner I don’t have much wiggleroom on my speculation, so I’m going to hedge a bit on my conclusion that a $100 iPod is a way off: A super-aggressive price on a low-end HDD-based iPod from Apple would be an interesting shot at the likes of Dell. I’d guess it would take Apple’s competitors at least 3 months to respond at that price point and might set their efforts in that space back another 6-9 months. If my SWAG is accurate, such a move could be worth Apple’s while.
In anycase, the more I think about it, the more I expect that Apple will start bundling a significant number of tracks from iTMS with any low-end iPod. This approach was used in the early day of the market for compact disks and CD players (though I don’t know how successfully), and would be a smart way for Apple to compete on hardware prices while both keeping their average transaction price up AND promoting iTMS.