New iPod touch starts at $188.99.  Free engraving, case, and charger.“The highly publicized launch of Droid last month marked a major effort by Google, Verizon and Motorola to slow the iPhone’s growing power in the marketplace,” Peter Farago reports for Flurry in the company’s latest “Smartphone Industry Pulse” report.

MacDailyNews Take: And Palm’s Pre before that, and Blackberry’s Storm before that, and the HTC Touch before that…

Farago continues, “And while the Android platform is the most legitimate challenger to iPhone smartphone dominance, it’s important to remember that the iPhone’s flank is protected by an often overlooked, powerful fighting brand: iPod touch. According to Apple, 58 million iPhone OS devices have been sold worldwide through September 2009. Of those, Flurry estimates that just over 40%, around 24 million are iPod touch devices.”

“While it is clear that the iPhone has significant short-term revenue value for Apple, Flurry believes that the iPod Touch holds more long-term strategic value for Steve Jobs and team. As all industry eyes look to the iPhone, the iPod touch is quietly building a loyal base among the next generation of iPhone users, positioning Apple to corner the smartphone market not only today, but also tomorrow,” Farago explains. “In terms of Life Stage Marketing, the practice of appealing to different age-based segments, Apple is using the iPod touch to build loyalty with pre-teens and teens, even before they have their own phones (think: McDonalds’ Happy Meal marketing strategy). When today’s young iPod touch users age by five years, they will already have iTunes accounts, saved personal contacts to their iPod Touch devices, purchased hundreds of apps and songs, and mastered the iPhone OS user interface. This translates into loyalty and switching costs, allowing Apple to seamlessly ‘graduate’ young users from the iPod Touch to the iPhone.”

The data in Flurry’s report was computed from a sample size of over 3,000 applications, 45 million consumers and 4 platforms: Apple (iPhone and iPod touch), Blackberry, JavaME and Google Android. Each day, Flurry tracks over 15 million end user sessions across apps that have included its analytics solution.

There’s much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]