Apple's latest iPod a VOIP phone in disguise

The worst kept secret in home electronics was officially exposed by Apple Inc. yesterday when the company announces its latest iPod Touch, which is an iPod that looks closely like the iPhone, but can't be used to make phone calls yet.

And I say yet because the attractive thing about this new Apple iPod is that it is Wi-Fi compatible which means it may be able to run Skype or a new type of Voice Over Internet Protocol phone program soon.

Not being able to use an iPod on a wireless network has been a big slam next to the device in the past. Other company's product such as Microsoft Corp.'s Zune player and Archos Inc.'s line of Wi-Fi product have all been able to use wireless networks to surf the Internet and replace files. The new iPod sports a large colour screen for presentation album information or videos and it comes bundled with Apple's Safari browser for surfing the Internet. The latest device does away with the iPod's brand click-wheel technology, which made the device popular in the first place. In order to navigate the device a user just touches the screen.

The big statement here was the inclusion of the Wi-Fi capabilities. The reason this is a big statement is because less than a day after revealing the plans people are already talking about how to make the devices capable of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calling. It's not a stretch, the device is capable of accessing the Internet, all it would take is a piece of software that allows the iPod to run Skype and the new iPod Touch become an iPhone with minimal service fees and subscription costs as long as the user was located within a wireless hotspot. Skype is already available for iPhone, so putting it on the iPod shouldn't be difficult. Consider the push that many municipality are putting on Wi-Fi connections, it won't be long before most major municipalities are blanketed with Wi-Fi coverage.

The new iPod touch will retail for between $299 and $399. While Apple wouldn't admit it, I am sure the opportunity of seeing the iPod used as a VOIP phone was one of the major factors that saw the iPhone's price slashed by $200 to $399 yesterday. The cost cut comes only three months after people lined up for days to come for the new plans to go on sale. More cuts are likely in the coming months, the iPhone is a cash cow for Apple with some analyst estimating the company is raking in a 50 per cent profit margin on each unit sold. So, if you've been waiting to buy your iPhone you may be rewarded with a lower price and when the iPod Touch is finished able to perform VOIP calling, you will end up with a choice of which device to buy.

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