Very much agree Simon – the syncing of these mobile devices via iTunes is a huge bottleneck for iPhone/iPod and especially the iPad. A .mac account (now ‘Mobile Me’ – boke) goes some way to wireless sync, and of course some apps are already cloud-based, but as you say it’s very fragmented, and badly needs a more holistic solution. For example, in the process of trying to enable some .mac shared info for the first time I very nearly deleted my entire address book and calendar because of a stray sync setting in iTunes – it’s just a mess. In an analogy borrowed from the days of early digital synthesizers it’s like trying to wallpaper the hallway through the letterbox.
I’d personally like to see iTunes out of the equation altogether (except of course for music management, which it does very well) and a fit-for-purpose file management system (wireless, cloud or otherwise). Time Machine sounds like a good candidate, and I like the idea of a shared archive on Airdisk or equivalent.
On another note, I think that the addition of mic and cameras to the iPod, combined with its new processor and larger memory, make it a genuine contract-free alternative to the iPhone, or mini VOIP-capable iPad alternative. I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons in my latest blog post: http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/blog/entry/hd-video-on-the-touch/