The difference between the iPhone and the iPod touch

In the twitter commentary that followed Apple’s iPod announcement, while I was getting caught up with the news, I realised that Mail was missing from the new iPod touch. I got to thinking that was an interesting omission, and reflected that the widgets, the stock, weather, and Google maps features, in particular, were particularly telling (rather than “curious”). It points to the fundamental (and very deep) way in which the iPod touch and the iPhone differ.

The difference between the iPhone and the iPod

The iPhone is an always-on, lightly tethered communications device. It presumes that at least a minimal network connection is always available. Weather and stock information is conceivably continuously updated. Mail can be checked regularly or pushed to the device.

The iPod is about entertainment, as it always has been. It is the mobile “lean back” to the iPhone’s “sit forward.” The ‘curious’ thing about these two devices is driven by how the world is today: in 2007, an Entertainment device and a Communications device look remarkably similar. (And, as an interesting corollary, it exemplifies how Apple generally sees the web as it is today.)

And it’s in that striking similarity and feature near-parity that the iPod touch necessitated a price drop from the iPhone, to something more in line with its feature differential. Really, you’re paying subscription fees to AT&T wireless for having the communications device cum phone.

It sounds like a reasonable choice for people to make during the upcoming holiday season.