The iPod touch likely represents the future of the high end of the iPod line, said Andrew Rassweiler, teardown services manager and principal analyst for iSuppli. Click Wheel-interface and Hard-Disk Drive (HDD)-based versions of the iPod are expected to wane in favor of touch-screen and flash-memory-equipped models like the iPod touch. But despite its functional and physical outward resemblance to the iPhone, and the fact that its internals borrow heavily from the iPhone, the iPod touch is no iPhone clone, and has its own unique design.
The iPod touchs design differs from the iPhone in that it is uniquely optimized to meet its form-factor and cost requirements. To cut space usage, the iPod touch makes use of some advanced packaging for its components not seen in the iPhone, including 0201 diodes and passive components in 01005 enclosures on the touchs WLAN module.
This is the first time iSuppli has seen these components in a product weve torn down, Rassweiler said. Apple products always seem to push the envelope in terms of space savings, and therefore we often first see the newest, most-compact components in Apple products.
The iPod touch design also pushes the envelope in terms of memory density. The high-end version of the product includes 16Gbytes of NAND flash memory, more than any product in the Apple iPod line. In contrast, the high-end iPhone offers only 8Gbytes of NAND flash.
Another notable difference is in the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design. The iPod touch employs a single PCB as opposed to the iPhones modular two-PCB design.
Other differences between the touch and the iPhone include a new set of components to support the iPod touchs Wireless LAN (WLAN) functions and the location of the touch-screen circuitry on the main PCBrather than on the touch-screen module.
Based on the history of the various Apple iPod products, iSuppli has assumed a total lifetime of one year for the first-generation iPod touch. iSuppli estimates that if Apple follows its historic product pattern, it will manufacture about 8.5 million first-generation iPod touches during the approximately one-year period from the third quarter of 2007 through the beginning of the third quarter of 2008. At that time, iSuppli expects the first-generation touch will be replaced by a new product in the third quarter of 2008.
However, this forecast could be impacted if Apple chooses to replace the iPod touch sooner to coincide with the introduction of a new model of the iPhone. Furthermore, if the product lifetime extends to two years, production could increase to as much as 20 million units. The arrival of the flash-memory-based touch will have major implications for the rest of Apples iPod line, iSuppli believes.
The touch, along with the nano, may drive Apples HDD-based iPods close to extinction in the near future, said Chris Crotty, senior analyst, consumer electronics, for iSuppli. While not a dollar-for-byte match for HDDs, flash now offers sufficient capacity that many consumers are willing to trade off storage for advanced displays and features.
These excerpts have been taken from iSuppli's report. Click here to read the complete report.