Is Apple getting ready to discontinue the iPod touch, now that the Cupertino, California firm has a bevy of low-priced alternatives, including the just-announced iPad mini? That’s the opinion of one analyst who has correctly predicted the demise of other Apple products. The iPod touch “has entered the final stage of its product life cycle,” according to Ming-Chi Kuo, analyst with KGI Securities. He also believes Apple “will not invest significantly in developing future models”…

The reason (via AppleInsider): when Apple unveiled the $329 iPad mini and earlier introduced the $299 iPhone 5 (with a two-year service commitment, of course), the lower-priced products cut into sales of the iPod touch.

Although Kuo hit a home-run when she earlier predicted Apple would drop the 17-inch MacBook Pro, this bit of product prognostication seems off-base.

The iPod touch is incredibly popular with consumers. The company regularly announces more than half of all iPods sold are iPod touches. In the first month the new iPod touch and iPod nano were available, three million of the devices were sold, Apple said Tuesday.

Then there is Apple’s historic hesitancy to cull older iPod models. The iPod classic – which still has hard-drive storage – remains alive. If price was the key to determining a product’s lifespan, the $249 iPod classic would have been jettisoned from Apple’s product lineup long ago.

The new iPod touch costs $299/$399 for the 32/64GB version. Apple also sells the previous-generation model for $199/$249 for the 16/32GB version. More on the iPod product matrix over at Apple’s web site.

Here’s Apple’s iPod touch ad from last year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGrDMVk2isc

Then there is the argument that the iPhone 5 is free if you purchase a two-year carrier plan. The iPod touch has always been huge for tweens and teens. The only way a young teen could get their hands on an iPhone is from a parent who gifts the handset. Speaking as a parent, no adult in their right mind would give an iPhone to a text-crazed teen.

This is Apple’s television commercial for 2012 iPod lineup.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrRHPf0_B3M

The iPod touch has always been the perfect gateway device for the iPhone. Teens could play music and games – as well as texting, using a free app.

Perhaps Apple believes an iPad 2 could serve the same purpose.

What do you think? Is Apple preparing to discontinue the iPod touch?

If so, what is its potential replacement?