Yesterday on KenRadio, host Ken Rutkowski and I jabbered on about the rumored new Apple iPod touch, that will come with a camera and a microphone-built in and 64 GB of memory.
This is awesome news for the likes of Skype and client Truphone and will likely start a flood of "me too" applications from the likes of Cablevision who operates a WiFi hot zone in the New York area, Clearwire and Comcast who are chasing customers in the Portland area with WiMax and elsewhere as the WiFi capability of the iPod touch means its a mobile phone without the mobile phone bill and contract connected to it, something Jeff Belk, the former Senior VP of Strategy at Qualcomm discussed in Unstrung in February of this year.
This isn't science fiction and with the rumored new iPod touch, VoIP over WiFi gets to. I've been doing exactly that with Truphone on both my Nokia's and my Apple iPhone and iPod touch for as long as the Nokia N80 and E61's were available and now on iPhone's and the current iPod touch 2nd edition. As a result of the reported iPod touch coming I fully expect a flurry of SIP based applications to start streaming through the Apple App store as a result and would expect the apps to come in two flavors:
1) BYOS-Bring your own SIP service ala SipPhone which is currently in the App store. A company like Mailvision could easily enter this space, as could Counterpath.
2) Branded service dedicated voice and video communications similar to Skype and Truphone from the likes of Gizmo5 or any SIP based operator with a customer base. This is why I think the cable operators who market land line services as part of a bundled offering will be in the game so soon.
An iPod touch with a microphone built in means another phone extension in the house, but more importantly that telephone number is accessible anywhere there's a WiFi connection. Just like a mobile phone is.
Where do I see the disruptive uptake? Within two key categories:
1) Pre-teens who need a phone but can't afford a contract
2) Travelers who don't need to be "always on" but want to stay in touch cost effectively.
Who benefits from this? Anyone with a travel router to sell, including Apple. Toss a travel router in your bag, and stay in a hotel with wired broadband to your room, and logging on is a snap.
But this also opens up a whole new world for mobile video production and applications that make it easy to record and capture, along with a voice over, as well as quickly "rough cut" video footage and upload it. For apps like QIK and for companies like Sorenson Media, which already has a mastery of video production tools, and even BrightCove and client Livestream, this new device will be a game changer.
Call it iPhone Lite.
As a matter of fact, it may be a better device overall.
Call it iPhone Plus!
P.S. This and a MiFi would be awesome too, as my friend Phil Baker pointed out in an email.