The increasing irrelevance of the iPod Touch

The iPod Touch has come a long way since the first iteration in 2007 and has generally been accepted as a low-cost alternative to the iPhone with the only major sacrifices being a slightly worse camera and no cellular in the current generation. Steve Jobs even referred to the iPod Touch as ‘training wheels for the iPhone’.

I’m moderately amused by the low cost iPhone/iPhone Mini rumors that have been emerging on the web over the last few months. The general consensus seems to be that it will cost about half the price of an iPhone, with possibly the same 4-inch screen. So basically it’s an iPod Touch with an extra radio.

I’m worried, however, that the iPod Touch is becoming irrelevant:

  • It no longer competes with low-cost (and premium devices such as the Nexus 4) Android devices in exactly the same price range
  • It isn’t as affordable as it once was. The 8GB iPod Touch 4G was the entry level device at $199, however the current 32GB ‘entry level’ fifth generation iPod Touch is $299. Despite this, the move to 32GB as a minimum is a lot more sensible
  • It doesn’t fit into the iOS ecosystem as well. The iPad Mini, a device that is equally fast, has half the storage and a screen three times bigger is only $30 more. People will be more tempted to spend $329 on a tablet and use a lower end Android phone as their music device than to buy a $299 MP3 player

If Apple do release a low cost iPhone Mini (which I see as unlikely, but I’m probably wrong) it will kill the iPod Touch. The odd thing about the iPhone Mini is that the iPod Touch is a premium portable media device, and an iPhone Mini would not be a premium smartphone because the price is too low. Android was the iPod Touch’s first nail in the coffin, the iPad Mini was the second and the iPhone Mini will be the third.

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