Don’t Buy an iPod Touch This Summer.

by Josh Rubenoff May 19, 2010

And I mean that in the literal sense. Why? Well, a few reasons:

1) Apple's notorious disregard for breaking compatibility can dramatically decrease the amount of time your device is officially supported depending on the time of year in which you purchased it. With the announcement of iPhone OS 4.0 in March 2010, Jobs announced that it would not run on the 2007 EDGE iPhone/1G iPod touch, and some features would be disabled on the iPhone 3G/2G iPod touch's slower hardware. Think about it: those who bought an iPod touch in August 2008 had 22 months to use the device before it became effectively obsolete, while those who bought one in October 2008 will presumably have 32 months. That's a 45% difference.

2) The upcoming iPod touch generation will likely inherit the latest iPhone's features, and break app compatibility in the process. Think back to June 2009, when Jobs announced the iPhone 3GS, and the details of the upgrades that came with it—among them, support of the OpenGL ES 2.0 specification for better gaming and 3D graphics. It was clear from that point on that app developers would have to make a choice—simultaneously develop for both the OpenGL ES 2.0-equipped phones and older models, or dump the legacy support altogether. So once the iPhone came out, there was a three-month period (the summer) where consumers could purchase an iPod touch that was unable to run the newest applications. In my opinion, it's better to wait for the fall than purchase a device that's already feature-crippled.

Apple's products have always been prone to this phenomenon, where those who purchase them towards the end of the company's development cycle are inevitably disappointed by the release of the new model with the latest features a few weeks afterwards. So why did I devote an entire post to the iPod touch in particular? The iPhone OS is enjoying colossal growth, and Apple is responding to that growth by accelerating its development at a rate far greater than iPod or Mac users ever had to worry about. And while the iPhone enjoys features that will keep it useful for years beyond the relevance of its hardware specs (GPS, a persistent 3G data connection), the iPod touch is so feature-limited by design that something as simple as the time of year in which you buy it can determine whether or not you get your money's worth.


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