Apple advertises its iPod touch as an iPhone without a phone (and as discussed last night, they might actually merge them). For kids and teens (its primary audience), the iPod touch is an App Store machine that lets them play jaw-dropping games, listen to music, run social apps to share stuff online and what not. Despite these treats and really low $229 price point, the gizmo is seriously lacking in the connectivity department: It works only with wireless hotspots and does not connect to cellular networks.
Now, a Dutch blog called AppleSpot.nl is running a report this morning which asserts that a fifth-generation iPod touch will contain new antennas and circuitry for 3G data connectivity. Bad translation courtesy of Google Translate:
This will be as his work as the iPhone, where you have a 3G subscription from your ISP, then the SIM card into your iPod Touch key. The choice to add to 3G iPod Touch lineup is not even a very bad idea from Apple, it was obviously true. The only question is how this is received by the telecom farmers, since the use of Skype then will shoot up considerably.
In plain English, 3G in the next iPod touch will be for data-only traffic, like on iPad, rather than voice calls over a cellular network (excluding VoIP apps, of course). Note that 9to5Mac is putting a heavy amount of skepticism on this report because the blog’s track record is literally non-existent. In addition, they provided little information about the alleged 3G feature. However, the idea has legs and could easily hit the ground running, here’s why…
[UPDATE July 8, 2011 11:05 Eastern]. Reader Peter from Netherlands sent in a much better translation:
It will work just like the iPad; you get a 3G enabled simcard from your provider and put that in you iPod Touch. Apple’s choice of bringing 3G to the iPod Touch isn’t all that weird, if it’s true of course. Question remains how the providers will react to this, since the use of for example Skype will skyrocket.
Adding 3G would improve usability of the product which is now hobbled to a significant extent by WiFi-only design. See, wireless networks aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as cellular ones, which seriously limits users to areas with wireless hotspots. Sure you can listen to music and watch a movie on your iPod touch while offline, but the vast majority of iOS apps are useless without network connectivity. With 3G, iPod touch-using kids will be upgraded to the always-on computing. They will be able to use VoIP apps like Skype anywhere there’s WiFi or 3G coverage and carriers would surely welcome a new revenue stream by selling prepaid data packages and microSIMs to the youngsters. Finally, this notion of a 3G iPod touch jives with our own Seth Weintraub’s school of thought calling for a cheap iPhone by adding “the GPS/3G baseband chips and some phone wiring and a solid 3 megapixel camera and you are 99 percent of the way to an iPhone lite”. So in a nutshell, the next iPod touch – and this is pure speculation based on a very questionable blog report – could get 3G data-only connectivity while Apple could add phone parts to the device and boom – there’s your inexpensive iPhone for the masses. September can’t come soon enough, that’s for sure.