Is There a Future for the iPod touch?Guest blogger Ben Laley writes:

This year looks to be the biggest year yet for tablet computers. Google’s Nexus 7 tablet has been buttered up and unleashed unto the public, Apple released an updated iPad, and Microsoft’s offering will have to wait a while before it can be run through the gauntlet.

Google’s release of the Nexus 7 has been met with fanfare for some and gnashing of teeth for others, but the main point remains constant: New devices are great for competition and its price point makes a compelling proposition. I’m sure that Apple is keeping an eye on the situation as I think one of the casualties of the Nexus 7 will be Apple’s own iPod touch.

Apple’s iPod touch can be pigeonholed into a few different categories. Some people would call it a portable media device or a personal digital assistant; it could even be described as a handheld games console, but how different is it from its big brother the iPad? Apart from its form factor, not a huge amount. So if you were deeply invested in Apple’s entertainment offerings and the price and/or size of the iPad put you off, there is really only one other device that could be its replacement. When the iPad was released, it was described as a big iPod touch and, if that’s the case, then the touch is a small iPad.

So why do I think touch sales will be eaten into by the Nexus monster? Its price point. The cost of a device largely trumps other considerations for the average consumer when purchasing their new toy. In the tablet’s respective $199 forms you get 8 GB of memory, front facing camera, and access to a large library of apps, music, and movies. iPod touches are bought in large numbers as gifts for children and teens around birthdays and holidays as it’s a relatively low cost of entry. With the Nexus 7 now strutting onto the scene, things become a bit more complex. What are the talked about devices at the moment — the ones that get everyone all worked up? Smartphones and tablets. My suspicion is that the average consumer will feel like they’re getting a better deal on a 7″ tablet rather than a 3.5″ tablet or portable media device when presented with the two for the same price point.

Apple’s problems could be compounded further were it to, hypothetically, release a 7″ tablet of its own to compete with Google. Price would be an issue; currently, the iPod touch is priced from $199 to $399 and iPads from $399 to $829. If a 7″ tablet were to be released at a competitive price to Google’s tablet, the iPod touch may not seem like such a good deal any more. I’m sure all will be thrashed out in the fullness of time, but for now, what do you think is the future for Apple’s iPod touch?