I wrote an editorial on Redmond Pie some time ago now, outlining my thoughts on the iPod touch and the fact that I believed Apple was missing a trick. With iPhone sales continuing to increase and iPad sales as strong as ever, I believed that the iPod touch could be used as something of a ‘gateway drug’ to help Apple snare the younger generation long before they can walk into a mobile phone shop and sign a two-year contract.

My theory, I still believe, was sound. Apple needs to catch potential new users when they are young, and giving them a taste of the iOS ecosystem as early as possible is the best way to do it. It also helps the company perpetuate its post-PC mantra, something the late Steve Jobs was very keen to do.

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The thing is, that gateway drug, or the iPod touch if we’re going to be all formal about it, is still being ignored by Apple. While previously I believed Apple was simply missing a trick, I’m starting to wonder if it is simply killing off the iPod brand in general.

With rumors of a new, smaller iPad once again circling the internet like RIM circles a drain, is Apple potentially going to kill the iPod touch in favor of an ‘iPad Mini?’ Is the iPod touch, which is basically filling the position of a small iPad already, not long for this world?

I can’t help but think Apple would be missing the point somewhat if that was the end-game. The iPod touch’s big claim to fame is that it is an iPhone without the contract. A small iPad isn’t quite the same. Portable, but perhaps not quite portable enough.

The death of the iPod touch would surely mean the death of the iPod line as a whole. Apple’s music players are barely visible these days, and large capacity devices are far from the forefront of thinking inside Cupertino. Newer, smaller devices have been the order of the day, but even they play second fiddle to the iPhone and iPad.

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In an age where Apple is rebranding itself as a mobile company, with the iPhone and iPad at the forefront of that, is the Apple that brought iTunes and the iPod to the world dying? We know Apple is a changing company, but what affect will that have on its product line going forward?

People already believe Macs as we know them are going away sooner than we would like. Perhaps the old faithful, the iPod, is set to do the same?

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