Is that an iPod phone in your pocket?

Is that an iPod phone in your pocket?

Summary: In response to my blog post asking whether handhelds with hard drives might start to give iPod (and other dedicated music players) a run for its money, one Talkbacker pointed out that iPod now includes a Calendar feature, showing that iPod can give as good as it gets and push back against incursion from handheld vendors.

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TOPICS: Apple
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In response to my blog post asking whether handhelds with hard drives might start to give iPod (and other dedicated music players) a run for its money, one Talkbacker pointed out that iPod now includes a Calendar feature, showing that iPod can give as good as it gets and push back against incursion from handheld vendors. 

Another Talkbacker thought that it wouldn't be handhelds that would kill dedicated music players, but advanced cell phones that combine features of handhelds and music players into one phone package.  That makes a lot of sense to Bill Gates, who believes mobile phones will be the stumbling block which trips the iPod giant.  That makes a lot of sense to me, too, as gadget creep is already an issue I have to contend with.  I might be willing to sacrifice a few features on my music player, handheld, and even my digital camera in order to carry just one device around with me in my pocket.

On that note, leading players in a particular market segment are the teams to beat in any new convergence.  Nokia, as leading handset vendor, is a strong player in a smartphone future.  Similarly, Microsoft and Palm could also be players, provided features of handhelds are what matter to the smartphone buyers of the future.

Apple, however, could also be a contender as maker of the most popular music player in existence - the iPod.  Why wouldn't they have a strong shot at making the converged smartphone device of the future, assuming that music playing is a strong reason to buy a smartphone?

It doesn't seem like such a crazy idea.  Nokia already outsources most of its manufacturing work to shops in China and Taiwan.  Microsoft's first Windows-powered mobile phone, Orange Communications SPV, was made by Taiwan-based HTC.  Why couldn't Apple do the same thing?

They'd need an operating system, but there's no shortage of them for mobile devices, Symbian, Palm, Linux, even Windows, assuming Apple could consider an OS from its arch-rival.  Furthermore, the iPod has given them considerable experience with consumer electronics, and nobody doubts the skills of Apple hardware designers.

So, what do you think?  Is an iPod phone in the cards?

Topic: Apple

John Carroll

About John Carroll

John Carroll has delivered his opinion on ZDNet since the last millennium. Since May 2008, he is no longer a Microsoft employee. He is currently working at a unified messaging-related startup.

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3 comments
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  • Apple relies on status symbol branding

    Apple gets the best kind of free advertising from the movie stars and celebrities. They've managed to turn their product in to a status symbol which gives them the ability to charge a high premium. It always amazes me what their marketing folks can get away with. Only Apple can get away with pushing a crippled product with no navigation capability and turn it in to a marketing slogan of "life is random". Never mind that random shuffle has already been a feature of $20 music players for nearly a decade. It's like the artist that can sell a photo of an invisible woman (a plain old white canvas) for a few hundred thousand dollars.
    The iPod photo edition is a clear example of an over priced product with sub-adequate features (tiny LCD display). If someone wants to build an iPod killer, just throw in a decent 320x240 display, a tiny 5 GB HD, a cell phone with Bluethooth, PDA functionality, a quality 3 mega-pixel camera, recording and dictation, and WMA/MP3 playback capability. Oh, and it also can't be too big and it has to have a decent battery life and keep it under $500 ($300 with service plan).
    george_ou
    • Obviously George

      You just can't stand that!
      Others have tried your formula without much success.
      PXLated
      • Who has met my requirements?

        What are you talking about? I don't know of a single company that has met my specifications. Who knows, maybe Apple will be the one to do it (but at a premium price).

        As for standing Apple, I merely state the facts, no more and no less.
        george_ou