I don't post much about consumer gadgets since I don't use them, but I do see how my youngest son uses the iTouch, and it's not hard to see how things can unfold once you become totally dependent on one. As Andy notes, the "rumored" new iTouch will have everything you need to make it a poor man's iPhone - built-in mic, lots of memory and WiFi support. That's great news for mobile WiFi, and validates the touch-screen interface big time. With a touch-screen, pretty much any broadband-enabled/WiFi supported device can become a phone, whether it's mobile, bolted on to a wall, or projected from a really smart gadget on to your kitchen floor.
Scary, huh? I had similar thoughts earlier in the year, when posting about the first wave of VoIP apps on the iTouch from Truphone, and wondered how much this will cannibalize iPhone sales. I agree with Andy, though. For most teens/pre-teens, the iPhone is not affordable, mobile contracts are expensive, and adding voice to their iTouch will tide them over just fine.
I also wanted to echo Andy's thoughts on the bigger picture. Aside from this being good news for mobile VoIP - along with the booming opportunties around mobile video - it's really about bring SIP to the masses, something many people have long been waiting for. With mass-market products like the iTouch and super-cool brands like Apple, we now have the pieces in place to support consumer-friendly, SIP-based multimedia apps and mashups that will make the iTouch even more sticky. When that happens, I'm starting to think this could make the iTouch a bit like a scaled-down Microsoft Surface. When you start thinking of the iTouch like that, then the possibilities with SIP get pretty exciting. Has there ever been a better time for innovation?
By the way, if you don't know about Surface, you should - and you've come to the right place. This is a bit of a sidebar to the iTouch story, but I think it fits. My oldest son and I got one of the very first private demos of Surface in North America about 2 years ago, and it's pretty cool. You're going to hear a lot more about Surface going into 2010, and I think Microsoft knows they have more competition on their hands now that Apple has made the touch-screen mainstream. I'm going to let that thought hang out there a bit, and maybe follow up with another post. It's got me thinking...