The ingredients are basic: combine a mobile phone with instant messaging capabilities with an MP3 and (hopefully) a video player.
While there’s actually nothing “new” about this particular combination of technology (my two-year-old Windows-powered Motorola MPX220 Smart Phone offers these features, along with high-speed Internet access and more), Apple’s youth-oriented brand image may give it a serious advantage in this arena.
Indeed, one of the things that researchers hear when asking about device usage is that having to carry multiple units (cell phone + MP3 player) is burdensome and needlessly expensive; thus combining them is natural. iPod’s also have a built-in “cool factor” that makes the combination a natural for high-volume unit sales, especially when coupled with its iTunes integration.
Analysts expect that the devices will offer functionality based on the Mac’s existing iChat software, relying more on mobile IM than on mobile email communications and should begin hitting stores in 2007.
For us, the implications of yet another device that users will always carry with them are easy to understand: what better a platform for advertising, viral marketing and content delivery could you hope to get? While the suitability of the small form-factor device’s screen size can be debated, the popularity of the iTunes distribution channel and the undoubtedly high level of market acceptance make this platform one worth watching – and developing content for.