SAN JOSE, Calif. - Apple Computer released new versions of its popular iPod digital music player Wednesday, cutting prices and expanding memory capacities.
The price of the 4-gigabyte iPod mini was cut $50 to $199. A new 6-gigabyte version will sell for $249.
The battery life of the secondgeneration mini models has also been improved.
The playback time on a single charge is now 18 hours, up from 8 hours of previous models.
The 60-gigabyte ‘‘iPod photo,’’ first introduced in October, which can display photos on its small color screen or when connected to a TV set, was cut from $599 to $449. A new 30-gigabyte model for $349 replaces a 40-gigabyte version for $499.
Apple also said it expects to start selling a cable that allows the transfer of photos straight from a digital camera to an iPod photo, eliminating the need for a computer.
The iPod Camera Connector is expected to be available in late March for $29.
Apple officials said a free software update will be available so owners of older iPod photo models can also use the Camera Connector.
The iPod has helped boost Apple’s fortunes and remains the top-selling portable music player despite increased competition.
The slim and colorful line of minis, first introduced in January 2004, played a key role last year in doubling Apple’s share in the portable music player market from 30 percent to 60 percent, said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of hardware product marketing.
In all, more than 10 million iPods have been sold since its debut in October 2001.
The portable devices work with both Macintosh and Windows-based PCs.
‘‘We’ve done very well, but we’re not resting on our laurels,’’ Joswiak said. ‘‘And we’re going to continue to be very aggressive in this market.’’
Apple shares rose $2.94, or 3.5 percent, to close at $88.23 in Wednesday trading on the Nasdaq stock market.