Apple is a brilliant company, no doubt about it. But what has been coming out of the Ipod touch in the past few days is truly fascinating. Maybe Apple has an end play for this and it might come out on top but it is not exactly clear that it will. To get you back into context, Apple has two main products right now, the Ipod Touch and Iphone. The main difference of course is that the Iphone gives you the ability to make phone calls. But for that benefit, users must pay more upfront (usually around 100$) but also sign up to a plan that will cost between 70-100$/month for 3-4 years. Expensive isn’t it?
So does Apple care?
Obviously, this makes a huge difference for Apple as they not only receive more money when the purchase is made on an Iphone sale but even more important is the money that the phone company (AT&T in the US) gives to Apple, a portion of what the user will end up paying the phone company over the life of the contract. So Apple has a major incentive to sell as many Iphones as it possibly can.
But what if you don’t need an Iphone…?
It’s not easy to figure out if Apple expected this to happen but a few applications have been submitted by Skype, Google Voice and others that would make it possible for users to make phone calls through their Ipod touch using an internet connection. Initially, Apple rejected those applications, which was not that surprising given its possible impact on Iphone sales. But the FCC made a surprise intervention which has forced Apple to reconsider such applications. Skype is now the most downloaded free appliation on Itunes and Google is hoping to gets it application available soon.
But it’s still not an Iphone…
True, an Ipod touch user still has limited access to the phone as it must be connected to the internet and thus be in a Wifi zone. But with Wifi zones spreading quickly and many users having their own Wifi at home, it is becomming a possibility to switch from an Iphone to an Ipod touch. Chances are that this will not happen overnight but I would say that Apple might have the perfect product to avoir buying a smart phone such as the Iphone.
Voluntary or not??
There are problably very few people that truly know. Did Apple know this would happen but figure out they would sell more Ipod’s in the long run and could even become a good way to get non Apple users to make the switch. As well, if that was the plan, going under the radar the way they did was probably an easier way to do things than announcing its intentions which would have created numerous companies, especially the current cell phone carriers.
It will be interesting to see how things evolve over the next few months/years and what will happen with the Ipod touch.