Are iPod touch users second-class citizens? Apple says yes

Almost half of all Apple iPhone users have already installed the free iPhone Software 3.0 update released last week -- 6 million customers, according to Apple on Monday.

Almost half of all Apple iPhone users have already installed the free iPhone Software 3.0 update released last week -- 6 million customers, according to Apple on Monday.

But iPod touch customers? Facing a $10 upgrade fee, the vast majority are saying, "No thanks."

About 15 percent of the 40 million multitouch devices sold by Apple are running Apple iPhone Software 3.0. According to new statistics by AdMob -- whose ad network is used by many iPhone developers who want to monetize their free apps -- 44 percent of iPhone users were already running iPhone Software 3.0 by June 27.

However, just 1 percent of iPod touch users accessing AdMob's network had upgraded by the same date, according to the company. Seventy-eight percent were running the latest point release of iPhone Software 2.0, released last year.

Why? According to AdMob, it's the pesky $10 upgrade fee Apple is levying on the customers of what some call "a dumbed-down iPhone."

AppleInsider reports:

"The additional $10 fee to upgrade is clearly limiting uptake," the firm said, noting that this threatens to put a kink in Apple's App Store ecosystem. "Developers looking to sell applications utilizing the 3.0 features can’t be happy with Apple’s decision to charge for the upgrade as it limits their available market size for downloads."

And neither are consumers for feeling nickel-and-dimed.

What does an iPod touch owner get with 3.0? A list:

  • The ability to buy movies, TV shows and audiobooks via Wi-Fi
  • Stereo Bluetooth
  • Peer-to-peer gaming
  • Landscape keyboard
  • Spotlight search
  • Cut, copy, paste
  • Parental controls
  • Automatic Wi-Fi logon
  • Push notifications
  • New languages
  • Safari update
  • Sync notes
  • iTunes Store account creation
  • Third-party game accessories
  • Shake to shuffle

As the owner of an iPod touch, I can attest that I don't feel particularly inclined to toss $10 more down the Apple hole for these features, petty as it may seem. There's just not that much different in the OS for a device that doesn't have an always-on connection and doubles as a phone.

But Apple only e-mailed me to tell me about the new software today. My iPod touch didn't prompt me to upgrade, either. So perhaps it's just a matter of awareness.

Another theory is that it's simply that iPod touch users are, by the device's nature, less-connected than iPhone users, and have less opportunities (and by extension, willingness) to update.

Is it unfair for Apple to levy a $10 charge on a section of its multitouch population? Or is it a small price to pay for the effort of Apple's engineers?

Exactly what is a customer paying for when they plop down $229 ($299, $399) for an iPod touch?

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