Confirming expectations, Apple today introduced the 20GB iPod U2 Special Edition.

The release is described by Apple as: "Part of a partnership between Apple, U2 and Universal Music Group (UMG) to create innovative new products together for the new digital music era."

The new U2 iPod holds up to 5,000 songs in a black enclosure with a red Click Wheel and custom engraving of U2 band member signatures.

A wider partnership

“U2 and Apple have a special relationship where they can start to redefine the music business,” said Jimmy Iovine, Chairman of UMG’s Interscope Geffen A&M Records. “The iPod along with iTunes is the most complete thought that we’ve seen in music in a very long time.”

“We want our audience to have a more intimate online relationship with the band, and Apple can help us do that,” said U2 lead singer Bono. “With iPod and iTunes, Apple has created a crossroads of art, commerce and technology which feels good for both musicians and fans.”

“iPod and iTunes look like the future to me and it’s good for everybody involved in music,” said U2 guitarist, The Edge. 

Bono called the move to digital music: "The most interesting artistic creation in pop since the electric guitar".

“U2 is one of the greatest bands in the world and we are floored to be working with them,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We just want to make some innovative products together, and we hope U2 fans will love having their very own special edition iPod.”

Exclusives and digital collectibles

The new U2 iPod is being introduced as the band prepares to release their new album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” in late November. In addition to the new U2 iPod, the results of the U2, Apple and UMG partnership include:

U2’s single “Vertigo” from their upcoming album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” is available exclusively in the US through the iTunes Music Store.

Apple and U2 have created a breakthrough television ad featuring U2 band members performing their new single “Vertigo.” The ad is a cross between Apple’s award-winning “Silhouette” ads and a music video.

Apple has created the online music industry’s first-of-its-kind “Digital Box Set.” The first digital box set, “The Complete U2,” will contain over 400 tracks including all of the band’s albums and over 25 rare and unreleased tracks. U2 fans will be able to purchase and download The Complete U2 with just one click on the iTunes Music Store in the US and Europe beginning in late November for £140 (including VAT).

Extra value

The U2 iPod features Apple’s patent pending Click Wheel, up to 12 hours battery life and a Shuffle Songs command. US U2 iPod customers also get a coupon for $50 off the purchase of “The Complete U2” - however, Apple does not seem to be offering such a deal to U2's UK audience. UPDATE: Apple is promising a voucher to UK users, but has not specified its value at this time. UPDATE: Apple is offering UK U2 iPod customers vouchers worth £40 against the cost of "The Complete U2".

The 20GB iPod U2 Special Edition is expected to be available mid-November for £249 (including VAT) through the Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. The U2 iPod includes earbud headphones, 1.2m 30-pin to FireWire cable, a 1.2m 30-pin to USB cable, and a CD with iTunes 4.7 for Mac and Windows computers. Optional accessories include the iPod Dock for £29 (including VAT) and in-ear headphones for £29 (including VAT).