As the competition for smartphone domination starts to heat up, it is becoming increasingly clear that the iPod touch is Apple’s ace up its sleeve, and according to a report by Flurry, a San Francisco-based mobile analytics company, 24 million iPod touches represent about 40 percent […]

As the competition for smartphone domination starts to heat up, it is becoming increasingly clear that the iPod touch is Apple’s ace up its sleeve, and according to a report by Flurry, a San Francisco-based mobile analytics company, 24 million iPod touches represent about 40 percent of the total 58 million iPhone OS devices.

From the time I first laid my hands on the iPod touch, I have been a big fan of it — after all, it is just like an iPhone except that it has more storage, is skinnier, and has none of the hassles of dropped calls.

It is a handy little touch computer, that allows you to quickly check emails when sitting in a nice comfortable chair and reading a book. It allows me to play a game of MLB World Series, control my favorite music system — the Sonos — manage the Apple TV, and very soon, people will be able to use it to accept credit cards.

OK, so what if it doesn’t make phone calls or have 3G connectivity?  Those are problems you can fix by buying a MiFi and getting connected to Verizon’s 3G network, and you can make Skype calls as well. Last January (wow, how time flies) I wrote about why Apple was going to rule the mobile web, thanks to the iPod touch. I wasn’t that off the mark.

AdMob, a mobile advertising company currently being acquired by Google, in a recent report said that during the month of October (on a worldwide basis) the iPod touch accounted for 9.8 percent of all requests for applications and web sites that embed AdMob’s advertising script. In comparison, the iPhone has 22.4 percent of all requests. For the U.S. market, the iPod touch brought in 11.4 percent of total requests compared with 24 percent of requests emanating from the iPhone.

AdMob’s numbers mirror the data collected by Flurry, which tracks 3,000 applications, 45 million consumers and four platforms. In terms of the total number of user sessions per month, at present, iPod touch usage is much higher than the Android-based user sessions and is giving the iPhone a run for its money.

“It’s important to remember that the iPhone’s flank is protected by an often overlooked, powerful fighting brand: iPod touch,” Flurry notes in a report likely to be released Monday. “As all industry eyes look to the iPhone, the iPod touch is quietly building a loyal base among the next generation of iPhone users, positioning Apple to corner the smartphone market not only today, but also tomorrow.”

Agreed. In a post earlier this year I wrote how “the emergence of the iPod touch/iPhone is changing how we perceive and interact with computers. My friend Antonio Rodriguez, who founded and sold his startup Tabblo to Hewlett-Packard, thinks that a whole generation of kids is now growing up with keyboard-less computing as a default way to interact with machines.”

The iPod touch is much more than the iPhone’s little brother, as Jordan Golson recently pointed out:

Apple is perpetuating a “virtuous cycle,” as Gene Munster put it in a recent research note, to keep users on the iPod touch — an improved version of the lock-in provided by the old iTunes/iPod music ecosystem. Users buy the iPod touch; download apps; developers promote their apps (and the iPod touch platform), which leads to more consumers buying the iPod touch.

This virtuous cycle is more pronounced in the case of social networks and games. In its soon to be just released November Pulse report , Flurry notes:

Empirically, Flurry compared how iPod touch session usage has changed over the last six months across key application categories important to this demographic; namely, Social Networking and Games. While Social Networking’s viral nature is understood, iPhone Games have become increasingly social with the inclusion of features like friends lists, leader boards and remote multi-player modes. Together, Social Networking and Games category usage reflects the strength of the iPod touch Generation’s influence among its peers.

It is hardly a surprise. Apple changed its tune and started touting the iPod touch as a gaming device, which has started to have a negative impact on the earnings of specialist game device makers such as Nintendo.

It is starting to make its presence felt in the e-reader business. It is already a travel planner, thanks to apps like TripIt. So what’s next? (Related post: “The Past, Present & Future of Mobile Games.” On GigaOM Pro: “Is There Any Demand for a True Gaming Phone?” (subscription required)).09touch_3up.jpg

I think a digital camera would be a welcome addition, for that would allow the iPod touch to take on new roles: that of a camera. Secondly, it could become an easy-to-use and cheap bar code scanner. The latter would be the first of the many offerings for the iPod touch to disrupt a business described as enterprise mobility and dominated by Motorola’s Symbol Technologies.

It is not as far-fetched an idea as you might think. Square is already building a card reader. Last week, when I went to Apple’s Palo Alto, Calif., store, I saw the salespeople using a new device instead of the typical handheld credit card terminals. They were a combination of an iPod touch/iPhone (I couldn’t tell) and a sheath that snugly wrapped around the device and plugged into its connector, making it a point-of-sale device. And that’s just the start.

Against such a backdrop, it isn’t wrong to say: All hail the iPod touch.

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  1. Keith Beucler Sunday, December 6, 2009

    I agree in that an iPod touch and MiFi seem to be the perfect combination. I still use a dumb phone because I want my phone service to be as reliable as possible. The use of MiFi with my laptop and Touch gives me the exact combination of connectivity for my needs. Like most others I hate AT&t but that’s a whole other story.

    1. And I am perfectly happy with my myTouch as a phone. In addition to making/receiving reliable calls, the call log goes on – and on – and on. Individual ring tones for any number that calls is nice, too. The smart phone is definitely a better phone than the dumb phone.

  2. I bought an iPod Touch, because I was the customer of another carrier which didn’t sell iPhones. I had a crush on my iPod Touch when I got it because I was able to a part of the Apple app store experience as a 4th generation iPod customer (shuffle, mini, Nano, Touch). Even now that I do carry an iPhone, I still adore my iPod Touch. Why?

    1. Battery life. I can preserve watch a movie on a plane, listen to music and play games, and then when I land and power up my cell, I have full battery for text and voice communications. When I travel this is huge, since I never know when I will have a chance to stop to charge up.

    2. Storage. I can use the iPod Touch more like a backup drive for my PC. I carry a full library of photos and music on it, because I invested in the bigger drive on the iPod. I was able to buy a less expensive iPhone, because my iPod now acts like a portable drive for my personal media.

    3. Multitasking. I often find that I miss the multitasking of Android, but I am able to make up for it with two devices :-).

    With all the iPhone buzz, it’s surprising the industry has failed to maintain the strategic link that it was provided by the iPod. I know parents who will give their tween an iPod Touch for trips or home use, and only let them carry a standard feature phone because they can control the apps downloads, gaming and data usage during school hours, which would be harder to do if their child carried the converged iPhone to school.

    Thanks for the data and insight. It’s nice to see my own usage looks a lot like the Flurry graph. :>)

  3. “I saw the sales people using a new device instead of the typical handheld credit card terminals. They were a combination of an iPod Touch/iPhone (I couldn’t tell) and a sheath that snuggly wrapped around the device and plugged into its connector making it a point-of-sale device.”

    It’s an iPod Touch. http://www.ifoapplestore.com/db/2009/12/01/new-ipod-touch-pos-may-go-commercial/

    With the iPhone OS 3 SDK, Apple opened up the 30-pin-connector and the Blutooth antenna to developers. I’ve been wondering for the last months why we don’t see more business uses for the iPod touch.

    1. Tom

      Thanks for the link and the information. By the way I just learned from a reader that Incase is the one who is making that tack-on for the iPod Touch. So I am betting more companies are going to go down this route.

  4. I’d like the iPod Touch to have everything the iPhone has, minus the 3G radio. You’ve forgotten that aside from lacking camera, it also has no compass.

    Some are certain Apple is working on a VOIP “iPhone.” I wonder if that will be the next-gen iPod Touch?

    An iPod Touch without a camera is not a buy for me.

  5. I tried the Verizon MiFi and it’s VERY EXPENSIVE. Hear that VZW. $40 for 250MB of download per month and….get this…..$60 for 5G…..please VZW go bother someone else with those prices. I tried convincing Leah.Seavey@VerizonWireless.com and Jerry.Chanterelle@VerizonWireless.com that VZW should offer an unlimited plan for a single user with an iPod Touch for about $20 per month. I felt that was reasonable. BTW, Jerry is the Northeast Marketing Director and Leah is the Government Rep for VZW for the NY, NJ, Conn area. They said no. So after being frustrated having three devices (old Moto Razr, MiFi and my iPod Touch) I ported my number over to AT&T and got an iPhone. I am so happy with it. I live in NJ and the calls are fine. NO ISSUES AT ALL. I get FAST 3G downloads also. Unfortunately, I had to leave my family on VZW due to ETF’s at this point. Within a year I’m moving all my lines to AT&T and getting the family 4 more iPhones. And, I also found the Customer Service to be fine. I have a PERSONAL AT&T Rep at my local store. I call them with any issues and they are more than heppy to help. The VZW stores are always dirty and you have to wait for at least a half hour to talk to someone. So, my advice, get the iPhone instead. the MiFi is way to expensive at $40 for just 250MB/month.

    1. Frank

      I am not sure why there is a download limitation of 250 MB on your plan. I have a MiFi from Verizon and it is 5 GB download limit on the “unlimited data plan” enough to keep me using the Skype at the very least.

  6. Om…Agree with you.

    iPod touch is powerful but people still have a hard time with the keyboard…we have been running some tests, putting the touch in front of some non tech users and they have struggle a lot with it.

    There is still some more technology needed to really nail the usability of keyboard…Otherwise it rocks.

    And yeah Camera/web cam would be a great addition.


    1. Yeah but that’s just first-time jitters/apron strings after a while I actually started to mis-type things on purpose because the auto correct made this method of typing quicker! It’s like switching from Windows – after a couple of weeks it’s fine.


  7. “Those are problems you can fix by buying a MiFi and getting connected to Verizon’s 3G network, and you can make Skype calls as well.”

    What the gosh durn you talkin bout?
    MiFi is data only isn’t it??! The above quote is actually two sentences (not one), so I’m a bit confused by what’s being said there.
    Did I misunderstand something about the Verizon MiFi features?

    1. bbb

      You can log into the Internet using WiFi via MiFi EVDO. The WiFi allows you to make Skype Calls when you start using Skype. Hope it clears up your confusion.

      1. Thanks. I knew that. The paragraph reads like the MiFi solves the problem by supplying Verizon phone or data service, ‘AND’ alternately you can make VoiP/skype calls as well.

        I had a client who bought one thinking they would be able to leapfrog their ATT calls through verizon’s network in locations they had no ATT service. I told them the unit was VZ data only.
        Just wanted to be sure I didn’t miss something.

    2. Before I got the iPhone, I used my iPod Touch with Skype to make internet phone calls. All you need is wifi access or the VZW MiFi. The Skype App is available though the App Store for free. The iPod Touch is a great device if you don’t want the iPhone.

  8. Santa’s Elves Sunday, December 6, 2009

    I tried the iPod touch and thought it was an overpriced piece of marketing fluff. If I just want to listen to music, then all I needed was a tiny iPod mini. If I wanted to watch video on the iPod touch, good luck. So much for the drag and drop functionality of the Apple desktop. Getting the iPod touch to work right with video, even Apple’s own format, is like trying to please a grumpy old man. Go back to the drawing board and change your marketing Apple. You are being dishonest with people about the inability of the iPod touch to play video well at all. It’s really a piece of garbage on this point and Apple, you should be embarrassed that the iPod touch is such a failure at video.

    1. Bitter Santa’s Elves? Santa's Elves Sunday, December 6, 2009

      Why so much hate “Santa’s Elves”?

      The iPod touch handles video just as well as the iPhone does. Wonderfully, I often load the Touch and iPhone with full length movies all the time and there is never a issue.

      Can you elaborate why so much hate? What issues did you have? Perhaps your just completely clueless and six years old? ;)

      Be good little man or Santa wont bring you anything but coal in your stocking this year. :)

      1. @Bitter Santa’s Elves: adding a smiley is not a get-out-of-jail-free for being a patronising dick.

        Sounds like Santa’s Elves has four issues:
        (1) The Ipod touch is big if you only want music
        (2) Its video resolution is fairly low
        (3) The touch screen takes getting used to.
        (4) If you’re trying to play your own videos, instead of buying them from Apple, you may get teething troubles with the format etc.

      2. Anyone who claims the iPod touch isn’t great at video has absolutely no idea what they are talking about!

        Resolution is likewise NOT as issue. Maybe you need bifocals?

        I love watching videos on mine, it’s awesome.

    2. “So much for the drag and drop functionality of the Apple desktop”

      What does this even mean? It’s the same as all iPods, you can set iTunes to manage manually and drag and drop to your heart’s content or if you go with the default setup – sinc specific playlists.

      As for your comments about video, are you serious? what could be simpler?

    3. He’s right, video formats have been a PITA for many years, first of all because there are so many outdated formats still being used, but also because computers are still not fast enough for on-the-fly conversions. Ultimately, if Hollywood and the TV stations were more forthcoming in providing a wide content selection on better terms and lower prices, trusting in the long tail instead of arcane release windows and sharing the digital dividend with customers like the music labels did, these problems would be a lot less relevant to average consumers as the demand for video procured by “other means” would subside and Apple (or other providers like Amazon) could settle the market on standards-based videos that run on all players without problems.

      That said, the unique selling point for the iPod touch are the web browser and the apps, so I wouldn’t call it “garbage” before I’d have tried those. If all you want is video, you may also take a look at the iPod classic and iPod nano.

  9. michael arrington Sunday, December 6, 2009

    great post.

  10. Could not agree more. I was finally able to ditch my Dell AXIM and get a Touch. As a physician I finally have a pocketable computing device that gives me everything I need to get through my days… repository for frequently used info, apps specific to my specialty, CME, entertainment when I find the time (not much). If this puppy had a camera I would be in heaven. I would not be surprised to see the Apple store POS Touches marketed to retailers within the next year. If the connector is open enough we might begin to some interesting hardware/software add-ons as well. Hopefully Apple will continue to push the iTouch further.

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