The New iPods: A Further Blurring of Physical and Online Spaces

I think for the most part the new iPods are yawners. Even the new “phoneless iPhone” was broadly expected. The most thrilling announcements, as far as I’m concerned, are the new device-based access to the iTunes store (is this a first?), and especially, the relationship with Starbucks.

Although I don’t think this latter initiative is going to be much of a money maker, it hints at the true potential of the iPhone/iPod Touch: location-specific, web-based services. I wrote about this back in January when the iPhones were announced; the relationship with Starbucks seems pretty close to what I’d envisioned then: the device is aware of in-store-only web services, and allows you to interact with the business via the device.

There are so many opportunities for other vendors to jump on this bandwagon! This may become an important new mechanism to deliver digital goods to consumers. It also points to a further blurring between physical and online spaces. It’ll be interesting to see how Starbucks and Apple manage the relationships between these two worlds… how will Starbucks explain this functionality in-store to their patrons? How will the device’s UI make you aware of entering an “active” physical space? What happens if two such spaces overlap? (Think: in-airport Starbucks kiosks.) Lots of potential for exploration…