iPod - I am Touched

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A day before the Apple special event, I had written about a new iPod and its potential features. Steve Jobs subsequently announced the iPod Touch. Here is a summary of what it has and what it does not -

The 'Yes' list
  • The touch-screen that was the iPhone's identity
  • Wi-Fi, allowing internet access through the 'Safari' browser with custom yahoo and google functions.
  • Music download from Wi-Fi hotspots at Starbucks locations
  • Digital Radio
  • Flash drives of 8 or 16 GB

The 'No' list

  • Of course, the phone part of iPhone
  • A microphone
  • Bluetooth
  • A bigger hard-disk

The Analysis

  • Wi-Fi had to come: The iPod has to compete with Zune features and allow for wireless download of music
  • Flash Drive, the power saver: The flash drivehas been used to compensate for the power-hogging Wi-Fi feature. The 'Touch' advertises 22 hours of music playback or 5 hours of video playback. Makes sense!
  • Wi-Fi browsing: The Safari browsing experience is likely to be a paid service. If so, then the primary use will be limited to the business population and the intended reach of the device will not be as fast. On the other hand, the easy-to-use interface along with the mobility may have people willing to spend if affordable.
  • The microphone: With a microphone, it can be used as a VoIP phone along with the Wi-Fi feature. There were perhaps 2 reasons for its absence. Apple, wants to maintain a good relationship with the carrier community, especially considering it is yet to globalize the iPhone. Secondly, my suspicion is that the GSM chip from iPhone is still in place in the iPod touch. Although it makes economic sense for Apple not to spend design cycles for an iPod that is essentally an iPhone clone, the presence of a microphone will let hackers enable the phone feature as well at no cost.

Looking ahead, the next generation of iPod touch (not knowing when that will come) will have -

  • Free browsing on Safari, or at least cheaper and more affordable services with a wider range of applications
  • Bluetooth 2.0 or higher, perhaps integrated with Wi-Fi chips
  • The microphone will come once the iPhone obtains a stronger foothold. VoIP calls from home or hot-spots will become popular, especially when integrated with a sleek iPod.

On a personal note, I am undoubtedly thrilled. I wanted to get an iPhone but did not think the phone part was worth it. So, apart from the Flash drive, the VoIP feature looks attractive for the future, but I don't think I can wait to get 'touched' by this new gadget from Steve Job's garage.

Posted by Vijay Nagarajan at 8:29 PM  

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