Yes, as I’m sure you may have noticed, iPod touch is conveniently missing Bluetooth. Though many have confirmed already that it has the hardware, Apple submitted iPod touch to the FCC with it disabled.
Now, you’re probably wondering “what on earth is going on here… Apple now can do Stereo Bluetooth in iPod, Mac, and iPhone… so why aren’t they?”
Good question. Let’s take a deeper look.
First, let’s assume Apple is a rational actor. Let’s assume that they do indeed value A2DP (that’s Stereo Bluetooth for those of you unfamiliar with the name). What’s the holdup?
The main key item missing from the Apple lineup is Apple’s own A2DP accessories. And, from all external indications, that appears to be the holdup. Like the iPod headphones, Apple knows that they have to be perfect. No, not just miles away from the competition, perfect. Perfect, as in, you have to pay several times more to get a pair of headphones that come close to them… perfect.
Sure, there are A2DP adapters. You can use them with your iPod headphones now. But, this won’t do well for Apple. A2DP headphones have to be something that you can wear without a belt clip. They have to be even better than an iPod shuffle in size, and on top of that, beat Motorola’s new wave of A2DP accessories.
So, what is Apple working on? I’m not going to rumormonger about what the headphones are. But, apparently, they weren’t ready.
Now, about the iPod touch. The call to hinder Bluetooth happened, apparently, right before sending the device along to the FCC. Some of the press photos clearly show it with Bluetooth on (and talking to a device… which implies that Apple’s A2DP software is at the very least, working enough to build it into the press photos for release).
Now, if Apple had included Bluetooth in the FCC submission, they would have had no choice but to advertise iPod touch with Bluetooth… people would outcry otherwise. So, Apple knowing that A2DP headphones wouldn’t be ready for their “The Beat Goes On…” event, axed all the Bluetooth from iPod touch.
The good news is that this is easily undo-able. Apple just has to send iPod touch back to the FCC for Bluetooth radio testing (which will pass, since the FCC approved iPhone, which has the same exact antennas and hardware). Once that happens, Apple can push out Bluetooth enablers with a simple iPod Update from iTunes. They can even announce right to the iPod touch owner the newfound A2DP support… and advertise Apple A2DP gear during the update.
So… we wait… again. Apple’s eagerness to turn a hindrance into a feature will continue to disgruntle those that are most loyal. However, from a marketing standpoint, it’s pure genius to do that. Apple’s stock surged 10% the day Boot Camp was released… and as I’ve previously campaigned, Apple had the technology to deploy Boot Camp months before they shipped the first Intel-based Mac. By holding back on the feature, Apple gained publicity in the marketplace, and in turn, their share value… fueled by anticipation that higher exposure of Boot Camp would translate into more Mac sales. Boot Camp would have received lower-profile coverage if it had been announced as part of WWDC ’05.
And, as they say… the beat goes on…
Update: Apple’s marketing team aparrently doesn’t like the pressure on A2DP. So, they’ve gone on a rare clarifying campaign. iPod touch does not have Bluetooth hardware built-in. And rather than try and re-analyze the situation… I’ll just sit back and listen for the communal grown (or the loud Homer-esque D’oh, though that might be coming from inside Apple).