Why the iPod touch is Apple’s secret weapon

02Mar10

The iPod touch. It’s that misfit cousin in the Apple family. Apple didn’t know how to market it. Pundits didn’t know why they were selling it. It was derided for being a cheaper, less-capable iPhone. Yet, despite this, Apple has sold a whopping 32 million of these little devices, and stats suggest it may actually outsell the iPhone in 2010! However, the iPod touch has more unexpected magic up it’s sleeves.

The Apple blog has all the full numbers and charts to prove that the iPod touch will indeed surpass the iPhone in 2010. Keep that in mind, because another snippet of data suggests that the iPod touch has another piece of magic up it’s sleeves. Back in January 2009, Admob (the online mobile advertising agency recently bought by Apple) published some stats showing that a whopping 46% of all iPod touch owners are under the age of 17.

For some pundits, this confirmed the “misfit cousin” reputation of the iPod touch. It added to the wide derision of the device for being a “phone-less smartphone”, mostly used by children for playing simple cheap or free games, who don’t buy much music, and have little purchasing power. ‘Who cares about the iPod touch, what does it matter?’ was the pervasive thought.

However, the pundits have largely over-looked one important fact: children grow up. Yes, when these children get their first jobs, and get their first mobiles (or “cell phone” for our American friends), would they want the latest Nokia, –– or the latest iPhone?

If 46% of the 32 million iPod touch users are under 17, that means nearly 15 million children may want iPhones when they grow up. Their using the iPod touch gives them a great idea of how the iPhone works (and arguably, may give them a taste for iMacs, Mac Books, and iPads). Now, that is the best ‘advertising’ money can buy. Also, do not forget that all of the Apps and games they have bought or grown to love will also be saved on their Apple iTunes account — not on some Palm Pre or Android application or account.

Further, with the iPod touch sales numbers accelerating, ever more children will want iPhones when they grow up. Apple doesn’t really market to child consumers. In fact, it has never really marketed to children. However, Apple has quite accidentally found itself selling one of the most popular children’s ‘toys’ in the world — and making a profit on every single one. Further, the iPod touch may become Apple’s inroad to the younger generation, building inside of them a fierce brand-loyalty – something other companies such as Dell or HP cannot do because they just sell generic plastic boxes. Even Microsoft with it’s XBox franchise can’t compete on the same grounds — XBoxes are far more expensive than your average iPod touch, and cannot be carried around and shown to the other kids on the school bus or in the playground.

The iPod touch –– our little family misfit –– has unintentionally turned Apple into one of the world’s most successful toy manufacturers and game publishers, while inculcating a fierce brand loyalty in millions of kids. The iPod touch has become Apple’s secret weapon in the battle for the next generation of consumers. 

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