More thoughts on my 16GB iPod Touch

I recently read an article about potential future growth in the iPod market centered around the Wi-Fi mobile platform introduced with the iPod Touch. Now that I have experienced Wi-Fi access in this great little handheld device, I could never go back. This is surely the future of handhelds.

I’m on week three with my new Touch, and I have to say I love it. The addition of the Mail, Notes, Maps, and Safari browser is fantastic. It’s utterly transformed how I use my iPod. I can’t wait to see what the independent Mac software community comes up with to make this even a better device once Apple releases the software development kit later this month.

However, there is one thing that really bugs me about my new iPod: the lack of tactile controls to play, pause, and change songs. With my old 3G iPod, I could plug it into my car stereo and change songs on the fly without looking at it. This isn’t possible now, and I’m told the iPod remote (with the built-in FM transmitter) doesn’t work with the Touch.

I’ve read that the iPod Nano Remote Control will work with the iPod Touch, but I mail-ordered a similar low-end remote before for my old iPod and it was cheap and flimsy. In fact, I ended up sending it back because it failed within a week. I need a good remote!

Now, following Apple’s announcement today, there is one more thing that bugs me about my Touch. I patiently waited for Macworld before I bought my iPod Touch explicitly to ensure Apple wasn’t about to launch an updated version with more memory. I have over 20GB of music alone. Alas, they didn’t announce anything new for the iPod line during the Expo, so I happily bought a 16GB model … confident that the next iPod Touch update would be far in the future (or at least several months away).

Now, less than three weeks after I buy my 16GB model, they announce a 32GB version for $100 more. Apple is surely aware that many people wait for Macworld before plunking down money on a new piece of Mac gear. Couldn’t they have announced this a few weeks ago during their biggest consumer show of the year? Perhaps this was a tactic to reduce their 8 and 16GB reserves. Geez. I could really use that extra space. Anyone want to buy a slightly used 16GB iPod Touch?

On the iPod Touch

I’ve been using Omnigroup’s OmniFocus for several weeks now to prepare for my evaluation of this task management application (part of a series). It’s quite an impressive tool. I’m ready to put my thoughts together — look for it by the end of the weekend. Meanwhile, I want to comment on the iPod Touch.

I’m going to retire my battle-worn third generation iPod this weekend. Now that the iPod Touch offers much of the same functionality as the iPhone, I’m ready to ugrade. You might wonder why I’m not going to spring for the iPhone. The main reason is cost — not the cost of the iPhone, but the cost of the AT&T service plan. The cheapest plan equates to over $700 per year. Since I don’t talk on the phone that much (and my current employer provides me with a cell phone), I’ve decided the Touch is my best bet.

The only thing I think I’ll miss is the iPhone’s ability to surf the web and check email via the AT&T EDGE network when one is not near a WiFi source. But I’m confident that WiFi access points will continue to proliferate to a degree that will make it easier and easier to connect wherever I am. If I can’t connect in some locations, no big deal. I don’t really want to be connected in all places at all times anyway! When I’m on a business trip, however, it will be a particularly nice feature to be able to browse the web, get directions, and check my mail from my hotel room or at a nearby coffee shop.

The Infamous $20 Fee

Some iPod Touch owners are expressing outrage at Apple’s decision to charge $20 for a major software upgrade of the device. This upgrade, announced this week at the Macworld Expo, adds five applications (mail, notes, maps, weather, stocks) to the iPod Touch — features that have been on the iPhone from the start. For those who buy a new iPod Touch as of last Tuesday, the additional apps will be included for free.

I have mixed feelings about this. I can understand why some early adopters feel like they are getting ripped off and, in effect, penalized just for being early adopters. However, early adopters bought the Touch with full knowledge that it did not have all the software features of the iPhone. Apple never said that these features would eventually be added, although many hoped for this.

It’s not surprising that Apple opted to charge a nominal fee. The real question, I think, is if $20 is “nominal”. I’ve read that a fee of some sort is legally necessary because of the Sarbannes-Oxley Act. This Act apparently states that you can’t add new features to something that you offer at a one-time fee without charging for the additional features. The iPhone is exempt from this because users pay running fees per month for this device. But what about the Apple TV? You don’t need to pay a monthly fee for this appliance, right? Yet Apple rolled out a major software upgrade for this at Macworld as well…and they’re offering it free to all, including existing Apple TV owners. Apple should better explain their rationale for the fee decisions they have made.

Still, I think it’s not that bad of a thing. If you buy a new Mac, you get Leopard and the latest version of iLife pre-installed. But if you already owned an iMac when these updates shipped, you have to buy these upgrades. I don’t see much of a difference between this and the situation with the iPod Touch. I suppose that’s easy for me to say since I’m going to get these additional apps for free.

So the question really comes down to this: why $20? Why not $5 (or whatever the minimum is to meet business/legal requirements). Twenty dollars seems a bit inflated. One thing is clear: this is a black eye for Apple. They have not offered a clear explanation to justify the upgrade cost for the iPod Touch, so people are drawing their own conclusions and forming unfavorable opinions. The impression Apple is leaving is that they may be getting a tad greedy…and they don’t care much about early adopters (faithful consumers that Apple should want to take care of very well).

Perhaps all the bad press will lead Apple to offer a discount of some sort to those who must pay this fee, as they did for the early adopters who bought the first iPhones only to see the price of the phone drop a whopping two hundred dollars just a few weeks later. Or perhaps they will simply ignore the grumbling of a few iPod Touch owners and press on.

As Apple’s market share continues to expand, I hope they don’t lose sight of what makes them special. I’d hate to see them become more like, er, that other company that sells PC operating systems.