iPod touch: Because I demanded it, and it's good for other people, too

iPod touch wipes out all of my objections to iPhone. I win, Apple wins, consumers win, and everybody who wants to leave work at work, and yet still remain just connected enough to stay on top of things, wins. Reverse-engineering projects lose. iPod touch's price, $299 or $399, genuinely defies reason, for reasons I explain below. iPod touch, plus a sweet phone, is all I need to bring with me on quick business trips.

I am, in the words of one blogger remarking on my photo (which I disavow), smug and condescending, so of course I believe that Apple created iPod touch based on my feedback and for my benefit. The fact that it was designed before I laid hands on an iPhone won't keep me from taking credit for it.

I've told you what I want, and don't want, from an Apple handheld device. I don't want it to have a lid. I don't want it to ring or light up an "available" icon on anyone's buddy list when I go on-line. At those times when the sight of a computer knots my stomach, and when QWERTY is a four-letter word, I'd still like to get some studying in, watch WWDC sessions that I couldn't attend, read comments to my blogs, pull up a datasheet for the mystery part that I just yanked out of my old DirectTV receiver, listen to Stevie Wonder's 4-disc boxed set, or perhaps even do something that's not horizon-broadening (fark.com). Out of pocket shouldn't have to mean off-line.

Oh, before I forget: Merry Christmas, Microsoft.

With the season in mind, I have blessed iPod touch's expanded distribution to addresses not my own. Nobody over the age of twelve will fake an enthusiastic reception of an iPod touch. One box per loved one, shopping's done, have a martini. Ones not quite so loved will enjoy any of Apple's lesser iPods, and the one that you're replacing with an iPod touch will take a nice polish. In coming years, all holiday/birthday obligations will be satisfied by iTunes gift cards, denominations scaled according to your affection for each recipient. Apple has a helpful table on its Web site.

And now, a spin of my beanie. iPod touch's price does not make sense. I may miss my guess slightly, but I believe that what we have here is an embedded system with a 32-bit CPU, 8 GB of flash (base model), a 3.5-inch backlit true color LCD and controller that's fast enough to run 30 full-screen frames per second with frame-accurate audio sync (if that's done by blitting from the CPU, double wow), a multitasking OS with a TCP/IP stack, Wi-Fi and high-speed crypto, and a battery, all mashed into an 8mm enclosure. Now, compare the 8 GB iPod touch, at $299, to the 8 GB iPhone, at $599. Ask yourself how Apple knocked down its engineering and build costs enough to pay for a $300 price drop while still keeping an Apple-esque margin. "Calm down, it's iPod nano with Wi-Fi, dude" comments will be filtered. From this mystified embedded-fascinated geek to Apple's enlightened ones, I can only say that I am not worthy. I just threw out my breadboard and Mouser catalog.

Back to you, reader. Are you about to pop The Question? Your intended won't think twice about feeding you your diamond over that illustrated diary in your ex's blog, but your (new) sweetie will forgive you to avoid giving back that engraved iPod touch. Anniversaries? That's right: iTunes gift cards, denominations graded by half and full decades of bliss. Consult the table on Apple's Web site.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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