Recently at a launch event, Steve Jobs had a less than earth-shattering presentation where it seems the news of his health was more interesting to most reporters than the products being rolled out. Having said that, there was apparently huge news unveiled at the show if you are a VoIP-head like me.
You see the new iPod can do VoIP because it has an extra wire connected to the headphone jack.
Do you remember in 1994 I predicted in Internet Telephony Magazine that Apple would come out with something called a VoIPod? Well I got the name wrong but the concept is still the same — the new iPods can do do VoIP which means there is a chance these devices will become primary phones for college students and others who are in areas where there is ubiquitous WiFi.
Another application of course is in corporations where iPods could become primary phones for workers. I know of no companies currently considering doing this but the price of an iPod Touch at $229 is close to what you would pay for an IP phone and may give similar functionality based on software which is likely being worked on by PBX vendors as you read this.
In addition, consider that for a few dollars more than the cost of a desk phone you can have a device which is wireless and becomes a selling point when looking to attract top talent (usually younger workers) to your organization.
Sure there is potential for abuse and subsidizing the music-listening and video-game playing habits of employees but in reality everyone probably has their own music and game playing device in their pockets already.
If businesses do adopt this pocket computer masquerading as a music player as a communications device — and it does make sense that they should when you consider the Touch is also a fully functioning browser and email device — this will be an entirely new market for Apple to derive revenue from.
If Apple isn’t considering the ramifications of adding this single wire to their iPods, they certainly should. I would imagine PBX vendors will trip over one another to be partnered in any way possible with Apple.
I look forward to discussing the iPod as business phone next week with the industry at ITEXPO in Los Angeles.