Is the iPod Touch Poised for a Comeback?

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When rumors of an iPad Mini refresh started appearing a couple of months ago, I wasn’t all that surprised. I’ve had enough of you who still love the smaller of Apple’s iPads write to me to know that there is still some interest out there. Add in the fact that it is naturally easier to deliver a less expensive device in a smaller form factor and that the Mini is long overdue for a refresh, and the stories make a lot of sense.

But the iPod Touch? I have to be honest. I didn’t see this one coming.

However, Japanese site Macokatara delivered news that the one of the last stragglers in the iOS lineup (along with the aforementioned iPad Mini) will be getting a refresh in 2019. From that perspective, I guess the Touch is long overdue for a fresh coat of paint. Like the iPad Mini, its internals date back to 2015, which is an eternity in mobile tech these days.

Still, you have to wonder who is still buying iPod Touches today and who will care about an updated version? Does anyone really care about this form factor anymore? This isn’t 2015. Apple’s brief selloff of remaining stock aside, they no longer offer the iPhone SE, so the current Touch is now the only remaining iOS device with a 4″ screen. It is also one of the few holdouts left with TouchID. Would Apple keep the device frozen in time and just bump the internals to keep the price low? If they do, will anyone care about such a dated design?

I think it’s a given that it will take more than the current design for the iPod Touch to make any kind of dent in the mobile universe, . However, how much interest will an upgrade to the same design as the iPhone XR and a bigger screen really generate? Will it be enough to offset the redesign and development efforts? Is the iPod Touch really an ideal candidate for Face ID? Most importantly, would these features raise the price of the Touch?

When you think about the available market for the iPod Touch, you also have to account for the fact that there are so many used and refurbed iPhones out there in the second hand market. How many buyers are going to shell out as much or more for a new device without a cellular antenna when they can re-purpose an older iPhone? We also know the kids are typically the target audience for the iPod Touch, so then you have to consider the “hand-me-down” factor, too. How many parents simply filter their older device down through their offspring after they upgrade? We’ve done this for years and our kids haven’t used a Touch in years because of it.

Those aren’t the only things working against a potentially redesigned iPod Touch. If the supply chain rumors are true and Apple is going to release an updated iPad Mini, what will that do for the Touch’s potential sales? How many users are going to upsize to the much larger screen for just an extra $100 or so?  Maybe it’s just me, but I would take the Mini over the Touch in a heartbeat.

Despite all of my reasons why the iPod Touch should be allowed to fade into oblivion, there is a chance that Apple really is going to do this. I know you have to take Apple patent and trademark filings with a grain of salt, but they just updated the iPod Touch’s trademark filing to add the designation that it is a Gaming Device. That certainly isn’t news, as mobile gaming has been one of the Touch’s primary purposes since the release of iOS 2 and the App Store.

However, what is notable is the fact that Apple made any kind of change to this 11 year old trademark right before such a rumor of an iPod Touch upgrade emerged. That certainly seems to point to something going on with a device that many Apple fans had left for dead.

While the iPad Mini and iPad rumors that seem to be picking up steam right now indicate an early 2019 release, I haven’t seen any timeframe assigned to the iPod Touch reports yet. Considering that I have absolutely no idea what Apple might be doing with the Touch, I am not even going to speculate. I’m just going to sit back and see if it shows up.


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