iPod mini at a Maxi Price?

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I'm withholding final judgment until I hold one in my hand, but at first blush, the iPod mini hints that much of Apple was on lunch break when the "Power Mac G4 Cube: Lessons Learned" memo circulated.

Granted, the form factor looks very cool and a lot of those who already view the iPod as a hip fashion accessory are likely to be tickled by the anodized aluminum case, tiny size, and variety of colors (the iPod mini comes in Silver, Gold, Blue, Pink, and Green). But when Steve Jobs finally announced the device's $249 price during his keynote presentation, it was as if someone had sucked the air out of the room.

This sticker shock was amplified not only by the iPod's specs -- 4GB of storage, which allows the device to hold about 1,000 four-minute songs -- but also by the fact that Apple bumped up the capacity of the low-end iPod from 10GB to 15GB while maintaining the $299 price.

"Let's see, for $50 more I can pack 3.7 times more music on my iPod and have access to a boatload of accessories compatible with the original iPod? Hmm, let me think about that...."

Again, once I actually use one I may better appreciate the iPod mini's value -- after all, I was just as shocked when I learned the price of the original iPod and quickly grew to love it (and realized just how much value was packed into the diminutive device). But right now, it seems overpriced by at least $50.

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