There’s No Flagship iPod

Two days ago, Steve Jobs unveiled updates to the entire iPod line, including the brand-new iPod Touch. Other changes include iPod Shuffle with different color choices, iPod Nano with a more squat form factor and video capabilities, and the iPod Classic, formerly called just iPod, with a new metal face and larger capacities.

iPod Classic? Do I smell New Coke? Why not just leave it with its old name of ‘iPod’? Oh, that’s right — the new device is the iPod now. Isn’t it? No, the new device is ‘iPod Touch.’

Why is it that no device gets the one-word name? It’s because no device can stand alone as the elite option. The iPod Touch is close. But 16GB of storage just isn’t enough. Doubling its capacity to 32GB would do the trick. After all, it was only three days ago that the more popular capacity choice of the flagship model was 30GB. 32GB would be enough for most consumers. (It’d be enough for my 25GB music collection.)

Apple knows that 16GB is not enough storage for a flagship device. That’s why the fifth generation iPod lives on today as the iPod Classic. More than keeping it alive, Apple has updated the capacity of the Classic. The base model has gone from 30GB to 80GB, and the upper model has jumped from 80GB to a massive 160GB.

One hundred and sixty gigabytes. That’s a lot. I’d guess that’s more than enough space to hold the entire music collection of all but a fringe group of consumers. So what to do with the remaining space? Use it as an external hard drive? Not likely. The answer? Fill it with video. But the Touch has that big, beautiful screen! In other words, one device has a holds-my-music-collection-twice-plus-several-seasons-of-tv-shows capacity, cursed to be played back on a two-year-old, small-by-Wednesday’s-new-standard screen; and one device has a big, beautiful, reorients-the-content-when-I-rotate-the-device-ninety-degrees screen with a maximum of won’t-hold-my-music-collection, don’t-even-talk-about-multiple-full-length-movies capacity.

There’s no flagship device.

In six months, Apple might release a 32GB flash-based iPod Touch. At the same time, Apple might provide video content on the iTunes WiFi Store.  But who wants to wait at a hot spot while At World’s End downloads?

There’s No Flagship iPod