Why an iPod touch with 3G Makes Perfect and Imperfect Business Sense

To date, the iPod touch has been attributed to the description of “an iPhone without the phone or data capabilities” in its simplest. That is still accurate, but a recent rumor about how the next iPod touch may include options for 3G data service shakes up the differences between it and the iPhone. Carriers and Apple, which would undoubtedly receive a percentage of the profits made through plan sales on an iPod, could find an amazing business sense within the prospect of selling millions, if not tens of millions, more 3G-capable devices that are Internet-focused. Then again, that could sharply affect iPhone sales.

Blatantly, the iPod touch is an extremely popular device, especially for people unable to get an iPhone for whatever reason. It has that in common with another Apple device, which is of course the iPad. A key difference in the way they are sold is that iPad can be purchased in a 3G variant that would allow users to sign up for 3G data. Even more so than expected, customers were drawn to having 3G anywhere at any time rather than being limited to Wi-Fi despite the steep subscription fees. Since iPod touch can be seen as an iPad Nano with its comparable features, wouldn’t logic say that customers would also be intrigued by mobile data options on the smaller device?

Once iPod touch customers constantly on-the-go realize the benefits of 3G and become hooked, that means a constant flow of cash for the companies involved. Since so many shoppers show an interest in the iPhone, an alternative that does not lack as much functionality as past iterations have shows a lot of potential for that market. Just having to get used to the general feeling of being disconnected (metaphorically and literally) and having an annoying feature gap when away from a Wi-Fi network as owners of previous iPod touch generations can attest to may be enough to entice those customers that a couple extra dollars a month is worthwhile.

Users could modify an iPod touch so that it is akin in the way a MacBook compares to the MacBook Pro; in other words, a similar experience in an inferior, cheaper package. This could be accomplished by replacing phone service with a Voice over Internet Protocol service such as Skype and texting service with Apple’s free iMessage coming in iOS 5 along with AIM (which even offers users the ability to text phone numbers for free), all of which can be accessed anywhere with 3G service if it is in place.

By exclusively paying the a la carte data prices, anybody using 3G data to replace all of the typical mobile services could easily save dozens of dollars per month. Even if they do go over the data plan’s limits, which is likelier to happen with more reliance placed onto it, it would not compare to the prices of also paying for the carrier’s phone and texting offerings.

A more complete iPhone alternative that comes very close to the real deal, as it should being that both products are from the same company, is a double-edged sword. While it could bring a significant new user base into the 3G service fold, taking away the iPhone’s advantage in that regard would sway some customers away from it and the steep service plans. Considering how many competitors are on the market that attempt to be an alternative, it may not hurt Apple to have its own that could bring in a new stream of revenue through monthly subscription fees. In the big picture, it is worth experimenting with offering 3G service in at least one iteration of the iPod touch to see how it affects sales for all of the company’s products as well as how customers spend their mobile service money.