The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

September 6, 2007

Out of Touch?

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 1:38 pm

OK, this is just wrong.  I never thought I’d see the day when I end up siding with Apple, but that day seems to have come.  With Apple’s new product announcements today comes the new iPod Touch, which is basically an iPhone minus the phone.  As much as I’ve been a skeptic of Apple in General and the iPod in particular, I have to say that this just might be what finally convinces me to get one.  Surprisingly, the reaction to today’s announcements (which also included a new iPod Nano, standard iPods in larger capacities and price drops across the board, including $200 off the iPhone) seems to be surprisingly negative among the users, even accounting for the usual fanboy wars that accompany anything Apple-related on the Blogs.  Even Apple’s stock price took a hit of over $5 on the day.  I suspect that much of the backlash has to do with the fact that a lot of Apple’s biggest supporters just found themselves paying a $200 early adopter tax on their iPhones.

On the other hand, the quick and drastic price drop for the iPhone does raise some questions.  The price of the Playstation 3 dropped by $100 less than a year after its release, and immediately cries of impending doom went up all across the Internet.  Then again, the general perception across the Internet is that the PS3 has not done particularlywell to this point, with a disappointing library of titles and an excessive pricetag.  On the other hand, the iPhone seems to be almost universally hailed as a runaway success, with crowds of people lining up for hours (or days, in some cases) to pay $600 for one on  launch day, and at least 1/3 of all posts on certain Blogs being iPhone related on any given day.  Now the price of the iPhone has dropped by $200 less than three months after release, which can be interpeted in any number of ways.  Some see it as an indication that the phone is not selling as well as Apple had hoped.  Others see it as making way for a larger capacity or 3G-capable version to be announced later.  Still others see it as part of Apple’s ongoing strategy for world domination.  Either way, there’s a bunch of people who just found themselves paying $200 more for an iPhone than they might have if they waited a couple of months.

As stated in my previous post on the iPhone when it came out, I got the impression of a device that valued form over function, and overcomplicated things that could be accomplished far more easily by just adding a button or two to the device.  There’s also the cost ($400 still isn’t exactly pocket change, and that doesn’t include the phone plan required to even turn the device on) and the need to switch carriers to AT&T  (I’ve been on Sprint for a long time now, and haven’t ever had a problem with them) that keep me from seriously considering an iPhone.  On the other hand, the new iPod touch has a lot of the iPhone’s features, but is not tied to a particular phone provider, and can still be used to surf the Internet (and YouTube) off a WiFi connection.  One thing that’s kept me from ever buying an iPod is the fact that I’ve never really found a use for one.  I have a relatively small music collection, and don’t usually find the need to carry it with me.  In the past, I used a MP3-capable portable CD player in the car, but found that for the most part it was too much hassle.  Now I have a 6-disc CD changer in my new car capable of playing MP3s as well.  This is a much more convenient solution to the problem, but not a particularly portable one.  A lot of this functionality could also be covered by one of my numerous PocketPCs, but the battery life (especially with Wi-fi active) leaves much to be desired,and the web browser is not exactly the most user friendly of applications (to put it nicely.) 

The iPod touch sounds like a device that could solve a lot of these problems, promising much longer battery life on Wi-fi than any PPC device has managed to accomplish, and (supposedly) a much better web browser.  For quite some time, I’ve been waiting for a device that can be used for portable web browsing, and nothing has really filled that need without either being hideously expensive (UMPCs) or seriously deficient in functionality (most PDA phones.)  With any luck, the iPod Touch might be able to handle this at an almost reasonable price point.  As much as I don’t really care for Apple in general, I may have to give serious consideration to picking up an iPod Touch when it comes out.  If I do, I’ll be sure to review it here.


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