Mac Musings

Apple Seduction: The iPhone and iPod touch

Dan Knight - 2007.09.06 - Tip Jar

Apple did it - they released an iPhone without the phone!

For those of us locked into service contracts, this is good news indeed. We can buy the new iPod touch and have almost all the functionality of the iPhone (no phone or camera) for as little as US$299. (That's for the 8 GB version. The 16 GB model, which has more flash memory than the iPhone, sells for US$399.)

iPod touch

Even with Apple slashing the price of the 8 GB iPhone from US$599 to US$399, not having to sign a two-year, $60 per month contract with AT&T Wireless makes the iPod touch a real bargain.

Lustworthy

It's really easy to lust after the latest technological marvel, which helps explain how Apple sold 270,000 iPhone in one weekend when they retailed for US$499-599. It's got everything the iPod has. It's also a smartphone. And it's a full OS X computer with a cool new multi-touch interface. And it's an Apple product with a name starting with "i".

There were two obstacles to the iPhone's widespread success. First was that it was exclusive to AT&T wireless. You couldn't use it with Sprint, Verizon, Alltel, T-Mobile, or any carrier outside the US.

Second was the price. US$499-599 is a lot to pay for a mobile phone, no matter how smart and cool. And there were no subscription rebates, which most US mobile users expect when they sign a two-year service contract.

The iPhone has been hacked, making it possible to use it with some other service providers, and Apple has announced that the iPhone will be reaching a few non-US markets. On top of that, yesterday Apple cut one-third off the price of the 8 GB iPhone.

But for those who don't need a cell phone, don't want a mobile phone that's so sophisticated, or don't want to change carriers, the iPod touch is going to be hot. It could easily eclipse sales of the iPhone and the iPod classic.

I'm not exactly sure what I'd do with an iPod touch, but I want one. That's how lustworthy it is.

I've used a Newton. I have a Palm. Neither saw a lot of use, although they had the potential. Could the iPod touch be the PDA that redefines a moribund market? Can it become a pocket Mac for those who want to listen to music, watch videos, carry their address book, have instant access to their calendar, and browse the Web using almost omnipresent WiFi?

It's a good thing I don't have the money burning a hole in my pocket. Believe me, it would be hard to resist driving to the local Apple Store and buying an iPod touch.

I could justify it as a necessary tool for making sure Low End Mac works well with the iPhone and iPod touch. I wonder how well it would work for taking notes, like at the next Macworld Keynote address. And I wonder how often I would really use it - like the iPod that spends most of its time on my desk, like the Palm that I only use occasionally.

We're all about value at Low End Mac, and you simply can't put a value on cool. That's most of what the iPhone and iPod touch have going for them. They are immensely cool, extremely well thought out, incredibly flexible tools for the digital lifestyle.

They're not the kind of thing a lot of people need, but they are the kind of thing a lot of people want. Including me. This may be Apple's most seductive product ever.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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