Why an Android OEM should make an iPod Touch competitor

June 1, 2013
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iPod touch

This week Apple announced that it has sold 100 million iPod Touch units since 2007 – keep in mind that this is not a statistic for all iPod devices, but all iPod Touch units. This is obviously a massive milestone for Apple, but it also brings up the question, why hasn’t an Android manufacturer built a legitimate iPod Touch competitor?

What past experiences have brought us

As far as Android is concerned, there have been very little competitors to the iPod Touch. Samsung, for all its success in the smartphone market, dabbled half heartedly into the iPod Touch’s domain, but with horrible specs and outdated software, its Galaxy Player models were never going to compete with the iPod Touch, especially after Apple brought out the fifth-generation iPod Touch.

samsung-galaxy-player-5.8

An unsuccessful attempt from Samsung, the Galaxy Player 5.8 was an oddity.

There haven’t been a lot of other competitors willing to tip their hats into the ring, and attempt to take on Apple. The only other OEM worth mentioning is Sony, which tried to use the Walkman brand name to leverage its very unsuccessful attempt at an “Android media player”.

Why should anyone be interested?

So you’re probably thinking that with all the history going against them, why would any OEM be interested? Well it’s something called brand recognition. The iPod Touch market is mostly targeted at children and teens, so if you captivate the younger market, they are more likely to be inclined to buy your smartphone when the time comes.

No doubt tablets have affected the sales of the iPod Touch, but it is still going strong, thanks to its lightweight, slim and small design, which gives it the advantage that no tablet can provide, it is uber-pocketable.

An iPod Touch is a device that is often given to a teen, as an inbetweener device, when they’re ready for their own handheld device, but not ready for a smartphone. So when you’ve already had a great experience with an iPod Touch, when the time comes, most teens will be looking at an iPhone to choose as their smartphone.

teenager-with-smartphone

So why not just buy them a smartphone in the first place, you ask? Well it’s simple, at the price point these devices need to hit to be even remotely successful, the only smartphones you can buy (off contract that is) are cheap and horribly specced devices. The Nexus 4 is the cheapest high end smartphone and it still costs $300, and I’m thinking of a cheaper price for the device, much cheaper.

This should be considered as a “groomer” device, one that will give a teen a taste of Android, and of an OEM’s devices. The gadget would then move them on to other devices (or even services). Now that’s where Google comes in.

Why Google should make a rival to the iPod Touch

Google is all about the services it provides, so the younger the audience it can reach out to, the larger potential for growth in it’s customer base.

Picture this: a teen buys a Google made “Nexus Play” (that’s the name I’ve made up for it, not an official name), and starts using Google Drive for all of his or her school assignments, uses Google Plus as his or her social network to keep up with friends and also uses Play Music for all music listening needs. Soon the teen moves on to Gmail, an Android smartphone and all the other Google services that come with it.

google-apps-deployment-services

This way Google gets to attract a market that it couldn’t normally target, and it also has the ability to offer a cheap and affordable device, with great specs and an up to date operating system. So who will make such a device? Well Google has Motorola now, doesn’t it?

The Motorola Nexus Play

Let’s skip the small talk, Motorola is in a rut, it’s losing money and market share, and it desperately needs to hit a homerun. Every manufacturer who has made a Nexus device has had its brand recognition improve dramatically, and since this isn’t a market that any of Google’s partners are interested in, Google using Motorola to manufacture a cheap, at cost Nexus Play, won’t anger the OEMs too much.

So what specs should this device have?

Google already has a great blueprint for the specifications of the “Nexus Play”. The Nexus 7 costs $199 for a 16GB model, and comes with heavy-hitting specs like a HD (1280 x 800) screen, a Quad-core Tegra 3 and 1GB of RAM. All Google needs to do is drop the screen size to a 4- to 4.3-inch screen, add a rear camera, swap out the Tegra 3 for a Snapdragon 400 and drop the price to say, $150 (You can go lower Google, surprise me!)

Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 is the perfect base for the “Nexus Play”

A device with such specs is hardly anything to sneeze at (and its price is pretty good too). But in this market, hardware isn’t the only deciding factor. It’s time to talk about customization and accessorization.

Customization and accessorization

It’s quite ironic that while Android is the most customizable mobile operating system and it also comes with great choices for hardware, the color choices for devices have long been limited to just black and white. If there’s one thing I admire about the Lumia line, it’s Nokia’s persistence on offering lots of color choices straight from day one.

With teens and children being the target audience, colors and customization become a much bigger deal than what they are on smartphones. No Google, a black Nexus Play, with a white (and still sort of black) Nexus Play released 6 months later is not the way to go. The key aspect here is colors, bright ones, and lots and lots of them.

Galaxy S III colors

The Galaxy S3 came in many color variations, eventually

It’s also worth noting that this device is going to need a pair of earphones (no skimping out on this either, Google!). It doesn’t matter how good they actually are, these days most kids have been fooled into believing Beats by Dre’s are the best quality headphones you can get. But for the sake of the product, and millions of parents’ ears (you can only listen to Gangam style a finite amount of times), a pair of earbuds should be included.

Cases are also a big thing for kids, even though third party manufacturers tend to satisfy this market well. Parents are going to be on the look out for a case that can protect their child’s device straight from the get-go. It also allows Google to make some money back when selling its devices at break even prices.

Finally, we need a 32GB version, not in two months time, but at launch. Since this is a Wi-Fi-only device, people will want to stick most, if not all of their stuff on the device, so a 32GB version will be needed.

Wrap up

A Motorola-made Google device competing against the iPod Touch might seem like a ludicrous idea at first, but if Google is able to undercut the iPod Touch and give it the specs listed above, it will finally allow Google to cover all the bases of mobile.

Not many other manufacturers can undercut Google, and those that can probably wouldn’t be interested in the first place, that’s why a Nexus Play is the perfect device for aspiring Android phone owners and even people who just want a non-cellular Android device that fits in their pockets.

Would you be interested in getting an Android competitor to the iPod Touch for your son, daughter, niece, nephew? Maybe even one for yourself?

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