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The real reason Apple decided to release a new iPod Touch

iPod Touch 2015iPod Touch 2015

Early Wednesday morning the Apple Store was taken offline for maintenance. Often such measures usually indicate a new product is on the horizon. After a few hours of anticipation, the store came back to life, featuring a new version of the iPod Touch.

The new product is the first substantial change to the iPod line in three years. Gone are the days when an iPod release was enough to headline an Apple (AAPL) keynote speech; these days a website refresh and press release seem to be sufficient.

The new iPod Touch features the same processor found in the iPhone 6, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, and an improved front-facing camera built for “even better selfies” (Apple’s words, not mine). The device’s screen size remains unchanged, measuring 4-inches. The device’s faster processor is accompanied by Apple’s M8 coprocessor, a chip built specifically to count steps and track motion. Additionally, Apple Music will be available on all devices, complete with the standard three-month trial.

Matching the basic color lineup of the iPhone and iPad, the new iPod touch is available in gold, space gray, and silver, in addition to bright blue and pink.

For all intents and purposes, the iPod Touch is a smaller version of the iPhone, just without the cellular connection. So why does Apple even bother making them then? Hint: Think small. The iPod Touch, in all its glory, is aimed at kids.

The iPod Touch is less expensive than an iPad and doesn’t require stiff monthly fees associated with an iPhone cellular plan. At $199 for a 16 gigabyte model, parents are more likely to purchase one as a birthday or Christmas present than the bulkier and more expensive iPad. Although, it’s important to note, the iPod Touch can get a tad pricey should consumers spring for the advanced 128 gigabyte model, currently priced at $399.

Apple’s decision to keep the iPod screen to a meager 4-inches at first seems to go against the success spurred by the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus respectively. However, the 4-inch screen just so happens to fit perfectly in a young persons hand; a detail Apple undoubtedly took into consideration.

In essence, the iPod touch is nothing more than a gateway drug for the next generation. It’s a drug designed to lure kids into Apple’s ever-growing ecosystem with the promise of an experience that only improves as users graduate to the next device.

We’ll never know just how successful the new iPod lineup is since Apple stopped reporting unit sells earlier this year. Nowadays the company lumps iPod sales into an “Other Products” category along with the Apple Watch, among other things.