What Exactly IS An iPod Touch???

On October 2, 2008

The iPod Touch continues to be a bit of an enigma to me and I’m not totally sure Apple knows WHAT they want it to be.

Let’s look at a quick history of its 13 months in existence.

Apple initially released the Touch as a “Touchscreen iPod”.

A few months later, Apple moved it into the realm of “PDA” when Apple made apps like mail and notes available (for a price).

When July 11th hit and the App Store finally opened for business, the Touch entered it third phase. Now it could do more things than ever imagined. In essence the touch became the first mainstream MID (mobile Internet device).

Last month, rumors swirled that the Touch was about to take a leap forward once again. This time the rumors suggested GPS and bluetooth might be coming. The iPod Touch was about to become everything the UMPC had tried to be. It was a far cry from the “touchscreen iPod” of the previous year.

Then the Gen 2 Touch was released. The updates of an on-board speaker and hardware volume controls were nice but the GPS was no where to be found and Apple began to position it differently AGAIN.

So what exactly IS an iPod Touch???


Apple clearly knows how they want to position it.  Not!  And it is far more akin to their initial concept than the way in which it evolved over the last year. Why do I say this? Just look at the current Touch commercials.

The commercials show off of the Touch as a device for… you guessed it… play. 90% of the images in it are of gaming on the Touch and the remaining few are of music. That, and the grammatically wrong tag line- "Funnest iPod Ever" which is prominently displayed at the end, are clear evidence that Apple is pushing hard to position the Touch as a recreation device NOT a MID/PDA.

Fact is, the Touch is a terrifically fun device. Gaming on it gets better and better as new games that are graphically impressive and complex are released. I’m not sure, thought, that Apple is making the right move here.

Thing is… the Touch is so much more than a portible gaming device. It is great for PIM and email, and thanks to apps like WriteRoom and TextGuru, it is increasingly more powerful for creating and editing text.  It offers great access to RSS feeds, saved notes, and online reading content.  It works well as an ebook reader (eReader), a flashcard replacement thanks to MentalCase, and the list goes on and on.

So the question is this- is Apple marketing the Touch correctly by playing up its potential for portable gaming, or are they missing the boat by entirely avoiding its increasingly amazing power as a mobile internet device?  What do you think?

Feel free to leave your comments, tips, tricks etc in our new iPod Touch Forum.