Next month will mark the second year I have owned a first generation iPod Touch. It has been an excellent device for not just music (truth be told I don't use it much for that), but also for reading, surfing and email. It has a number of apps that have become an integral part of my daily life, so it is a frustrating time for Apple to now write it off.
Today Apple announced the upcoming release of iPhone OS 4.0. Among the many features it brings, multi-tasking stands out to be the one most people will be happy with. As awesome as that is, it comes with a few interesting caveats. First, multi-tasking will only be available on latest models of iPhone/Touch, meaning only the iPhone 3GS and the 3rd generation iPod Touch will have that key feature. As disappointing as that, it gets worse. According to Apple's announcement, all the first generation devices will not be supported. This means that first generation iPhones and iPod Touches will not get the upgrade.
Would this be tolerated on any other computing platform? The device is barely two and a half years old and is being outmoded. I guess this wouldn't be much of an issue, except for Apple's iron grip on the App Store. When Apple transitioned to iPhone OS 3 last year, developers were required to update their applications to compile with the new OS, or risk being removed from the app store. This had a great side effect in that it forced developers to update their applications, plus made the transition for consumers really smooth who were eager to take advantage of the new features that OS 3 provided.
What now of first generation device owners? I can only assume that Apple will behave in a similar manner when OS 4 comes out, so that equates with me being unable to continue to get application updates that will now only appear for OS 4 users. I can understand this stance with the original iPhone, a device that people would be looking to upgrade this coming summer anyway, but there are still millions of first generation iPod Touch users out there that don't necessarily need (or want) a hardware upgrade. For a closed device with no OS alternatives, this stinks to high heaven of a forced-obsolescence on a device that is perfectly usable. For shame.
I know one thing, getting a first generation 3G iPad is now looking less attractive. For a device that will cost quite a bit more than an iPod Touch, I really question purchasing one if in two years Apple is going to turn around and do the same thing.
Let the buyer beware, I guess.