145719ipodtouch4a_500_thumb[1] Bill Stiteler at our sister blog Appletell has posted a piece looking at the possibility of Apple adding Facetime to the next generation of iPod Touch (as I did here).

He does mention a couple of points that I didn’t consider. One is that turning the iPod Touch into a wifi VoIP phone would allow Apple to offer phone service of a sort without having to put up with the complaints about AT&T’s service or the external cell phone antenna.

Another is the possibility that the iPod Touch will only have the front-facing FaceTime camera and not the rear-facing photo/video camera. I hadn’t thought of that; I’d just assumed it would come with both. On the other hand, having just the Facetime camera would lower the manufacturing cost, and might also placate phone companies who might not be too pleased about Apple moving to make them less necessary.

I still wish that it was possible to get an iPod Touch with iPad-like 3G data connectivity. Of course, people would use it as a voice-over IP phone, which is less convenient to do with the bulky 3G iPad.

But then, in this era of high-speed Internet data service, charging separate rates for voice, text messaging, and Internet data is making less and less sense. Unlike with landline phones, where voice is analog and DSL is digital, everything that goes over a cell phone line is data. The only reasons cell phone companies continue to charge for these things separately are tradition and that they can.

In fact, a number of services are beginning to offer data-only 3G and 4G Internet, using MiFi routers to provide personal wifi hotspots to serve whatever devices a user has on them—such as tablets, e-book readers, or iPod Touches. Low-end, 250-megabyte-per-month accounts can be had for $30 per month. And with such a service, a VoIP-enabled Touch might well be just as good as or even better than a cell phone—and almost certainly cheaper, too. I wonder if there are any “prepaid” 3G broadband providers yet?

Regardless of whether the iPod Touch can displace cell phone surfing, it’s going to be a great device for e-book reading. And I find myself wondering whether, once more people have these devices, someone might come up with some as-yet unimagined e-book related service. For instance, if the device does have the iPhone’s 5 megapixel rear camera, perhaps it could be used for scanning book or magazine articles.

(Come to think of it, a 5 megapixel camera is going to be more than sufficient for photographing printed pages for reading as photos. I wonder if bookstores and groceries with magazine sections are going to have to implement a similar “no cellphone” policy to the one in effect for shops in Japan?)


  1. I think it was pointless to come out with all these different types of iPods when in the end they will all configure into one huge ipod. I mean of course apple is making a ton of money but the ipod really needs a built in IP phone that way you can work on the go as well.

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