iPod Touch: This Thing is Going to Be Huge!

by Joey deVilla on September 5, 2007

The phone functionality of the iPhone has been the least interesting thing to me, especially given:

  • The “not-yet” availability of iPhone service here in Canada
  • The ridiculously high cost mobile data rates here in Canada
  • The fact that I have a perfectly good phone — a rather nice Motorola KRZR that I got only earlier this year

I care even less about its built-in camera. I’m one of those guys who carries a half-decent point-and-shoot digicam wherever I go, and until phone cameras get better, I’m going to stick with my Lumix.

For me, the really interesting things about the iPhone have been the functions that are currently performed by my trusty Powerbook and iPod nano:

  • Its PDA-like features
  • Audio and video playback
  • WiFi and Safari

The web browser has been of particular interest to me. In the age of Web 2.0/Ajax/web applications/whatever you want to call it, having net access and a browser as fully-featured and good-looking as Safari makes the iPhone the mobile computing platform that tablet computers wish they were.

If only the iPhone didn’t come saddled with the phone (and the commensurate cost)…

iPod Touch on the big screen at the “Beat Goes On” Apple keynote
Photo courtesy of Gizmodo Live.

My wish has been granted! At the “The Beat Goes On” event held today, Steve Jobs announced the iPod Touch, which for all intents and purposes is the iPhone minus the phone and camera. There are two models:

  • An 8GB model selling for US$299
  • A 16GB model selling for US$399

I’m sure you’re going to see lists of its features all over the Web, so I’ll skip that part. Instead, I’ll simply list some thoughts on this nifty new gadget:

  • That pre-emptive Zune price drop looks pretty pathetic now. I’m reminded of Sean Connery’s line from The Untouchables: Microsoft just brought a knife to a gun fight.
  • Early iPhone adopters who got the 4GB might get that IIvx’d feeling. The Mac IIvx is a special computer in Mac lore in that it was a machine that was undone by cost-saving shortcuts and getting discontinued a mere 4 months after its release. People who shelled out US$600 for the 8GB iPhone might be annoyed that a mere 2 months later, the price has been dropped to $399. However, that very special IIvx feeling is for people who bought the 4GB model, which I assume will be discontinued.
  • Remember what Steve Yegge wrote about JavaScript? To referesh your memory:
    “JavaScript is probably the most important language in the world today. Funny, huh? You’d think it would be Java or C++ or something. But I think it just might be JavaScript.”

    Given that the iPod Touch is a very portable Ajax platform and likely to influence the design of other mobile browsers, if JavaScript wasn’t the most important programming language in the world when Steve said so, it is now.

  • Remember the promise of tablet computers? It just got much closer to being fulfilled, if in an unexpected way.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paulo September 5, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Two words: copy, paste.

2 Joey deVilla September 5, 2007 at 2:07 pm

@Paulo: Well, I didn’t find the feature list anywhere as interesting as the “possibilities list”. Hence my not copying and pasting them.

3 Paulo September 5, 2007 at 2:16 pm

Sorry, I should have been a bit more verbose: if the iPod Touch UI is anything like the iPhone’s, it’ll lack copy/paste functionality. Palm does it, Nokia does it, lots of other device makers do it, why doesn’t Apple?

I must say, giving people unlimited access to impulsive music purchasing power while hopped up on Venti caffeinated beverages is sheer marketing genius.

4 Jeff Atwood September 5, 2007 at 11:15 pm

Actually, I think there’s huge overlap with the iPhone at $399.

They absolutely should have released a hard-drive iPod Touch, something like 120 GB or 160 GB. As it is, 16 GB for $399? Why not just get the 8 GB iPhone for the same price?

I’ll go so far as to say the iPod Touch, as it currently exists sans hard drive, is a *mistake*.

5 iPodApplicationList.com September 6, 2007 at 5:53 am

It looks really good. I wish I had waited instead of paying to get out of my old cell phone contract and paying $200 more then they are selling it for now.

6 Joey deVilla September 6, 2007 at 8:54 am

@Jeff Atwood:

I think that there are a number of people who’d be happy to keep their existing phones and still get their paws on the Touch.

U.S. users may not want to deal with the headaches and expense involved with breaking an existing contract, switching providers or living with AT&T’s current iPhone plan. Outside the U.S., there aren’t any mobile providers yet, and the yak-shaving involved with unlocking an iPhone is beyond what most customers want to deal with.

As for storage capacity, the iPhone trumps my reliable 4GB Nano, whose retail price was a mere $50 less than the 8GB Touch, and all the Nano does is play music (although I’ve used the stopwatch feature from time to time).

There’s also the issue of user experience, which played a role in the success of the original iPod, whose capacity seemed anemic compared to already-available MP3 players such as the Creative Nomad. What made the difference was that the Nomad (which we had at the OpenCola office because Cory’s an early adopter) was a pain in the ass to use while the iPod user experience was so much better.

Mind you, it’s a matter of perspective — I see the Touch as a web mini-tablet that happens to play movies and music as a bonus feature.

7 John September 6, 2007 at 4:37 pm

This would be wonderful for mobile news monitoring as well, especially with the beautiful screen…but, will it be possible for the iPod Touch to stream a BBC News Video say, from the BBC homepage? Or a Reuters video from the Reuters homepage? Or, is the only video streaming supported going to be from YouTube?

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