Time to buy a Shuffle?

My 512 MB USB memory stick has gone missing; I’ve looked all over for it. But I’m not sure I care after seeing the news from CNet that Apple has lowered the price of the 512 MB Shuffle to $69 (and the 1 GB to $99).

I don’t really think I can get one, of course, right now; but it’s still a suddenly compelling value proposition. Who needs a screen? It’s a memory stick with previous-next and a headphone port. What more do you need? Besides, it would be good to have a backup for those long flights when my regular iPod’s battery goes.

The only catch: 1 GB of memory is not designed for people who rip losslessly. I think I could fit about 100 minutes of music on it. (Update: I missed reading a review that points out that iTunes can automatically downsample lossless files for a particular iPod to 128kbps AAC. I never knew iTunes could do that!!)

But what’s the message in the new 1 GB Nano? I guess that people like the small form factor enough to want to have access to the screen even if they only have a few songs on it. And that it’s important to get new models out to customers so that the market gets even more saturated before the competitors catch up.