There’s currently three 16GB iPod touch packages sitting on my desk, waiting to be setup. I was able to purchase three different colors, each with the name of their owner engraved on the back, and they arrived running the most recent version of the OS. Apple’s iPod touch is a device entirely without competition; there simply are no other companies out there offering this same hardware experience. This seemed strange to me, but with the heightened focus on tablets and smartwatches it’s possible there’s just not enough here to fight over. With no competition, Apple didn’t even have to update their hardware this year. Apple is still selling millions of iPods, and they are doing so with what is essentially three year old hardware at this point.
Hardware is only one part of this experience. After all, I could easily get a personalized case for a Motorola Moto G and my three girls would be just as happy. The colored metal and engraving options for the hardware really is just a bonus. It’s the software they are really interested in, but again as a parent I found iOS to be the better option. I’m an Android user primarily, but Apple’s parental controls and multi-device household settings are unparalleled. I can put each of these devices under an umbrella that I can control with my iPad mini, and from there I can share apps I have purchased with their devices and act as a filter for content they want to add to their devices. The App Store also lets me set up content restrictions per device, and with most of Google’s apps playing nice on iOS I can still share most of the things I’ve bought on the Google Play Store with them.
Whether or not Apple is letting the iPod touch die is something that is still widely speculated upon. There’s rumors every couple of weeks about the next generation of iPods from Apple, but there’s still nothing to back it up. Meanwhile, the lack of competition from companies including Microsoft and Amazon, whose family friendly tools would do very well in this space, guarantees that Apple is going to ride the market out until there’s no major manufacturer actively catering to this audience.
We’re moving beyond staple concepts like the family computer, and it looks like Apple is the only company offering a complete solution to address that.