Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Whither iPod?

I recently wrote John Gruber an email with regards to his note about Michael Robertson’s claims (Robertson is former CEO of MP3.com). In general, Robertson has made the argument that the cell phone is the iPod killer. But really, he’s got it completely backward. What I said to Mr. Gruber was as follows:

Unless Robertson is not including the iPod Touch, then he has his assessment quite backwards. iPods are actually the iPhone killer. Everything from television to the landline network is gradually being sucked into TCP/IP. I don’t think anyone would be surprised by that statement. Data is data and data only needs one network, and that one’s already up and running on wifi and soon, wimax.

As someone who owns an iPod Touch with a microphone and that lives amongst (a University Campus and my house) ubiquitous wi-fi networks, I didn’t even see the point of getting a cell phone attached to my iPod. There’s nothing special about all the cellular networks with the exception of the fact that they are not as open as the Internet.

What other technological channel has managed to attach itself to the Internet without being entirely absorbed by it? Cellular networks and cable TV are being assimilated. Cell phones aren’t Internet devices–the iPod is. In fact, that’s got me wondering about Jobs’ inspiration for naming the iPod versus the iPhone. Did he realize the iPhone was just a hybrid while understanding that the iPod (a much more generic and flexible idea) was still the end-all-be-all?

Seriously though, is the Reality Distortion FieldTM hitting me this far out from California? There is only one well-known device on the market that is prepared for the transition from cellular network to wifi transmitted IP. The cost of maintaining cellular towers that can utilize 3G seems much higher than wimax. I really think the iPhone is a transition device, a hybrid. Still though, Apple has its bets covered on this one.

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