By all accounts, the iPhone 5 that’s due to be officially announced in October will have plenty of new features and design elements to entice current owners and draw even more consumers into the Apple fold. The same might not be true for the iPod Touch. According to sources for MacRumors and TechCrunch, the iPod Touch isn’t going to get a significant upgrade this time around.
That’s not such a big surprise, though, is it? After all, the Touch doesn’t need everything a phone might. Plus, Apple needs to keep costs down. The iPhone has the advantage of carrier subsidies to keep prices as what consumers consider a “reasonable” level. No such advantage for the Touch.
Plus, an iPod doesn’t need a dual-core chip, NFC, or even an 8MP camera. In the last update Apple integrated the features that are most useful in a PMP/PDA and left the rest to the side.
TechCrunch would have us believe that the reason Apple isn’t giving the iPod Touch a major upgrade is that iPod sales were down 20% according to this summer’s earnings call, which must mean that the entire MP3 market is shrinking. Or: Not. Maybe it means that most of the consumer base already has an iPod and doesn’t need another just because a new one exists.
I often hear from tech writers that MP3 players are dead and no one wants them because “everyone” has a smartphone. I never get tired of rolling my eyes at statements like this.
This attitude ignores several key factors, like the fact that millions of people don’t want or need a smartphone or simply can’t afford one. They might have the budget for a $199 device, but not the budget for a $30 – $60/month data charge that they’re stuck with for 2 years. If they buy a smartphone on a prepaid plan, then they’ll need a lot more money at the outset since those phones aren’t subsidized.
It also ignores that, while smartphones may play music just fine, doing so drains the battery. With all the stuff your phone does while it’s just sitting in your pocket, adding music playback means needing to charge it more often. Plus, most smartphones aren’t designed for music playback, so you don’t get easy access physical buttons, either.
One major demographic for MP3 players is kids and teens. Some parents are opting to give their kids smartphones, but many more are giving them simpler models that don’t cost much. I can see giving my 8-year-old niece and iPod Touch, but not an iPhone. And with the right apps, the Touch can mimic phone functions — including making calls and sending texts while on Wi-Fi — sans the expensive bill. Mom and dad can control and monitor it better, too.
The Touch can fulfill all of these needs without a major upgrade. Just because a device doesn’t need constant updates doesn’t mean it’s dead or no longer wanted. You just don’t mess with perfection.