The blog of Eric Lee - web design and internet consulting for the trade union movement.

iPhone? Who the hell needs an iPhone?

thumbtacks-ipod-touch.jpgLook carefully at the image to the left. This is not an iPhone. It is an iPod touch with something that looks just like a thumbtack stuck into the bottom of it.

This thing is actually called a Thumbtack and you can buy one and stick it into your iPod Touch. You can then go to the Apps Store and download a free copy of Skype.

And then you can make Skype calls whenever you're in range of a wi-fi connection, which for someone like me is nearly all the time.

Obviously this is not a replacement for a mobiile phone. When you're out of range of wi-fi, it won't do you any good.

But when you think of all the reasons why people buy iPhones, an iPod Touch would do just as well -- except that it can't make calls. Now it can.

The Thumbtack won't work with earlier versions of the iPod Touch and anyway, last year's version didn't have an external speaker.

I just completed a long Skype call to a friend and the sound quality was perfect and it worked just like a phone. No headsets -- you just held it up to your head as you would a normal iPhone.

Why is this so interesting? Why not just buy an iPhone?

Do the math. An iPhone (8 GB) will set you back -- and this is the cheapest deal in the UK at the moment -- £96.89, plus £29.38 a month for 18 months. In other words, total cost of ownership for the first 18 months is £625.73.

The cost of an iPod Touch (8 GB) is £165. (The Thumback costs $15.99.)

Obviously, the iPod Touch cannot do everything an iPhone can do. It cannot make phone calls outside of wi-fi network. But it can do everything else -- including making phone calls to ordinary phones (for a small fee).

It's something to think about.