Why I Gave a 10-yr old an iPod Touch.December 28, 2008
We had a pretty hi-tech Christmas around here. Guitar Hero, the latest little cheap electronic devices that allow for weird little social web games to be played by the youngsters, and an iPod Touch. Officially, to be shared by my wife and daughter, but in reality an extravagant gift for my ten year old. She had asked for a Nintendo DS. Since we already have a Wii and I can’t stand the idea of another device that would require $30 games, I suggested to her that I just buy an iPod Touch. The argument was quite simple: I buy you the iPod and you can play the games on a great-looking little screen with accelerometer control (tilting, to her) … when you want more games, there are thousands to choose from, ranging from free to $9.99. I’ll let you get anything that’s free, and I’m almost certain to say “yes” to something that only costs $5 … she already loved my iPod Touch so the argument was easy to make.
The economics are actually pretty easy for me as well. I spend $229 on the iPod, then games and such are a minimal cost. I spend $129 on the DS, and after buying three games I’m already up to the cost of the Touch with no end of spending in sight. Of course, the Touch also allows her to read her e-mail and chat endlessly without tying up the desktop computer that is also our home media center … since she’s just on wireless, this also costs nothing.
For me, however, there is something far more important about this decision. I was bound and determined that my daughter experience portable computing done right. Nintendo is just a machine that plays games that you buy and plug in … old old model. I wanted my daughter to understand that the Touch is hand-held computing that is fully functional (she can do pretty much anything that she can do on the desktop). While Apple has made the iTunes environment quite controlled (a negative point), they have built the environment correctly. From the Touch, it’s one tap to the iTunes Store, where you can actually browse all of the products easily … you can get apps very simply, but you can also get music, videos, e-books, and whatever else people come up with. There’s no fiddling around with anything … no drivers, no installation processes … it all just works. In fact, it works so easily that I doubt that very many people realize how great it works at all. The community of developers is cranking out new things constantly, and the pricing makes sense … a game should be $5, not $50. For the Wii, I have to find the game, buy an object for $50 (i.e. – a disc in a big package), and put it into the console every time I play, which requires cables and a screen and can’t be played anywhere except where the Wii is. And for that, I pay ten times as much as for games for my iPod. I will never have as many games for the Wii (obviously), and I hate it when the expensive games get ignored after a brief period of new game enthusiasm. And the games for the iPod look and play great ….
So, I just prefer the idea that my daughter experience the concept of the iPod over the really lame model of the DS, which can only teach her to spend a lot of cash for an extremely limited device that will never do anything beyond what it does the day that you bought it. The model of the iPod is how things should work, and it’s a tremendously useful tool. In fact, to me, the iPod Touch isn’t even in the same species as my old iPod. It was an extravagant present for a 10-yr old, but I’m convinced that it has value far beyond being a gaming device.