Why Would Apple Do A 3G iPod Touch When They Can Do A Prepaid iPhone 4 Instead? [Opinion]



While the industry eagerly awaits Apple next’s media event, AppleNApps has dusted off the rumor that Apple will introduce a 3G iPod touch this Fall to compete with the prepaid market. Although a cheap, data-based, VoIP-intensive iPhone would definitely shake up the prepaid niche, such a product would also define a new category of mobile handsets — and that’s something that Apple has been known to do.

AppleNApps claims that Apple is currently “working on” a 3G iPod touch for an announcement this month:

“After talking with multiple people over the past few weeks, we had a lengthy chat with one person who gave us great news about the next iPod Touch (though they would like to remain anonymous). We’ve used this person in the past, but they did qualify their remarks, saying that the iPod Touch changes should make it, but there’s no guarantee the changes will be ready for fall. The 3G iPod Touch idea intrigued us so much back in July, and we’ve been trying to find one of our contacts who can give some credence to the idea. A few have declined to comment, while others honestly have no idea, but the source for this report says that Apple is indeed working on a 3G iPod Touch. Apple is intent on announcing the device during their September event which they usually save for their iPod line, but will include the iPhone as well this year.”

To understand this rumor more clearly, one can look at the dozens of case and component leaks that have surfaced over the last several weeks. Most, if not all, of the leaks point to something totally different coming out of Cupertino soon.

Before we go any farther, it’s important to remember that AppleNApps is a relatively new site with no track record to base this report’s legitimacy on. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but this is the same site that started the rumor of an “iCloud iPhone” not too long ago.

Could the iCloud iPhone and the 3G iPod touch be the same thing? Maybe.

What separates an iPhone from an iPod touch? Have you every thought about that? The answer is only one thing: the phone. And you can see in the evolution of the iPod touch over the years that Apple has been bringing the two products closer together, with the most recent iPod touch generation receiving dual-facing cameras and FaceTime. Apple is setting itself up here.

Apple wants to get iOS into the hands of as many people as possible. While hardware is important, Apple has always been about developing an ecosystem that is tied together by seamless software.

The thought of a 3G iPod touch that customers can purchase data for on a month-to-month basis with carriers is very enticing, but the likelihood of a re-tooled iPhone 4 that serves the same purpose is much more appealing.

The iPod is already dead. Apple originally unveiled the iPod touch because it was “an iPhone without the phone.” That was appealing to consumers. And that’s why it sold well. If Apple can relaunch the iPhone 4 with support for all carriers and the option of a month-to-month data-only plan, why not? Apple gets to tighten up its product line, and the iPod touch’s customer base stays happy.

It’s a win-win situation.