There are some speculation going on regarding a new iPod Touch having a built in microphone and some more memory (i.e. 64 GB).
Ken Camp have written an excellent piece does not believe that the VoIP on iPod Touch will become a VoIP hit with pre-teenagers. This may be true in the US, but on this side of the pond I have more than one indication that Andy Abramson's views are very correct. It is true that youngsters do text a lot - but they still make a lot of phone calls. I take the bus to and from work each day and have the "luxury" of observing how the younger generation uses their mobile phones.
A lot of texting is going on - but also a lot of talking. The interesting thing is that these conversations are not very short. My bus ride takes around 30 - 35 minutes each way and there is so much blabbering going on that I have to turn up the volume on my iPod Touch to tune out.
Since the various articles by Ken and Andy (and Mark Evans and Alec Saunders) I have done some research. I have asked a few teenagers that I know through their parents about the "text vs talk ratio" (all had an iPhone touch or some other kind of iPod). My findings so far indicates that they do text a lot (no surprise) - but also are calling a lot. I will be the first to admit that a few persons is not much of a research group, but it is still a good indication on what is going on.
The art of vocal conversation is not dead.
There seems to be an consensus that texting is good for short (status) messages - but not for longer conversations. When asked if they do prefer to use MSN, SMS or a phone conversation to communicate - most of the teens I talked to prefer to use the phone. Most did state that MSN (and text) is excellent for updating more than one person at a time - or for group chats (all of the teens did not know about the ability to have conference calls on their phones).
A few of the teens spoken to had fixed price plans (i.e. a lot of minutes and a lot of text messages built into their plan) - those where not overly concerned about the cost of talking. All the teens where in fact aware of how cheap actual talk is compared to messages (higher bandwidth), but this was even more apparent for the teens not having a fixed price plan.
When asked if they would use Skype or similar service (i.e. VoIP) on their iPod, or if this would be a incentive to upgrade to a new iPod everyone was more than positive to this. For fun I asked if they would like to forfeit all their Christmas presents this year for getting a iPod with "free talk", most stated that this could be acceptable.
But will it really be used as a VoIP device?
For quite some time now I have been testing out various VoIP clients on my Nokia E71. I have also been testing out several clients on my iPod Touch. For the microphone I use the Apple supplied head set.
I am one of those people who is not getting an iPhone - I am more than happy with my E71 (which is more or less comparable to a iPhone). For the records the iPhone is extremely expensive in Norway compared to (i.e.) the high end offerings from Nokia.
I like to have a dedicated, excellent, player for my music and my podcasts.
Taking a daily look at my fellow, younger, commuters, I notice that very few have a iPhone. The dominant MP3 player is a iPod, then comes the iPod Touch - and then "other players". Most youngsters have a pretty cheap telephone - and a expensive player. My speculation is that this is due to the fact that a lot of younger people choose carrier sponsored cell phones (and these ARE often the cheapest there is). I.e. they force them self into a cheap phone and spend their cash on a high end player.
If my observations - and speculations - are holding water, VoIP on the iPod Touch (both current and future one) could become a big hit.
However, I will not eat into the argument that the new iPod Touch will "unleash" or "jump-start" mobile VoIP.
In my opinion mobile VoIP will be "jump-started" on cell phones. Just listen in on this Fridays VoIP Users Conference for my view on this.