Jan 2, 2009

Tech - A Larger Screen for Apple's iPod Touch Seems Unlikely

Patricia Resende

Bloggers are taking another bite of the Apple, but analysts say they may have bit off more than they can chew. The rumors on Wednesday speculated about a bigger, better iPod touch with a larger screen.

TechCrunch said three independent sources pointed to a new iPod touch with a seven-to-nine-inch screen planned for the new year. It said prototypes have been seen and held by one of its sources and Apple has given the nod to manufacturers in Asia.

Apple said in April it had sold 10.6 million iPods. And Amazon.com has reported that the second-generation iPod touch was one of its biggest sellers this holiday season.

Some bloggers think the device will be mentioned at Macworld but not be available until late 2009.

'Tweener' Device Unlikely

A larger iPod touch has been in the works for some time at Apple headquarters, one source said. The holdup has been whether consumers would like the bigger touchscreen.

But analysts say this rumor should be filed under "not true" and Apple's reluctance to roll out such a device is more accurate.

"When it comes to these types of rumors, if you wait long enough anything can happen. Like the iPhone people predicted for years and years, this one seems to be a little unlikely in the idea of a larger-format tablet with a seven-inch screen," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of mobile strategy at Jupitermedia.

A larger screen might be great for applications such as games, but the form would fail, according to Gartenberg. "What you tend to lose is an aspect of pocketability," he said. "You will not be able to go to the gym with it or go running with it."

Historically, say analysts, devices that fall in the "tweener" category -- between something that fits in your pocket, like a phone, to something that needs to go into a bag, like a laptop -- don't do well in the market.

"It is hard to imagine what kind of benefit it would give to users," Gartenberg said. "It is suitable for gaming, but once you start increasing the dimension and start losing those features, it becomes unyielding to hold in your hand. I'm still quite skeptical that we will see this device, and am doubtful we will see it next week."

Not Good for Developers

While gamers might enjoy a larger screen, developers would have to rewrite code to make their apps usable with a bigger device and Apple would have to ask if the larger screen gets in the way.

As for sources saying they have seen and held the device, Gartenberg said those who get to see those things are those who don't speak and those who don't know are those who speak

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