The forgotten iPod touch

As we discussed on today’s Clockwise, the current iPod touch is aging poorly. The last hardware update was in September 2012, and as a result, it has a iPhone 4-era 5 MP camera, is powered by the iPhone 4S-era A5 and packs the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen.

While the iPod touch is the only iOS device without a contract that sits at the $199 price point, Apple’s clearly letting it fall behind.

The obvious reason is that overall, the iPod is a sinking ship. Check out these charts from MacStories’ coverage of Apple’s Q4 results:

It doesn’t take an economist to see that the iPod family is in trouble. While I’m sure the iPod touch is the top-selling iPod, the picture is nothing but bleak for the entire brand. It’s not hard to understand why Apple’s let the iPod touch go a little bit in terms of tech specs.

But I think more than declining sales are hurting the iPod touch. Just look at this table:

$199 $249 $299 $349 $399
16 GB iPod touch 32 GB iPod touch 64 GB iPod touch    
  16 GB iPad mini 16 GB iPad mini 2 32 GB iPad mini 2 16 GB iPad mini 3
        16 GB iPad Air

The iPod touch is a big hit for parents looking for lost-cost devices for their kids, but with the original, A5-powered iPad mini now for sale at just $249, the iPod touch is a harder sell. The iPad mini — with its bigger screen and better battery — is a lot better for games and videos, the two things kids do with these kinds of devices. Toss in that it’s much harder to lose a 7.9-inch device than a 4-inch one, and it’s not hard to see why the iPod touch may be losing out to the iPad mini.

Of course, parents aren’t the only consumers who look at Apple’s current product lineup and may be drawn to the iPad mini for the same use cases. Add the fact that iPad apps can often be more powerful, it’s a wonder that the iPod touch sales at all at the current price points.

I don’t know what Apple’s move is here. The company has never worried about cannibalizing their own products, but I can’t help but think that when the original iPad mini goes away, the iPod touch will see another hardware update. For fans of the product, however, that can’t come soon enough.