Ideas We Like: iPods With Cameras

Illustration for article titled Ideas We Like: iPods With Cameras

Techcrunch is reporting, via "sources in Asia," that Apple is gobbling up huge numbers of camera sensors—the same ones used in the iPhone 3GS—for use in iPods. If Apple isn't really doing this, they should be.

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First, the Techcrunch take:

Apple has placed an order for a massive number of camera modules of the type that they include in the iPhone. These are inexpensive cameras, in the $10 range. And the size of the order, our source says, means they can only be used for one thing - the iPods.

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That, and this report of a suspiciously perforated upcoming iPod Touch case. Not a terribly huge amount of information, but even so, such a move's objectives are immediately obvious: to enter, eat away at, and eventually obliterate the cheap camcorder space. Here's how it goes: Apple puts a camera in their iPod Touch; customers already eager buy an iPod are suddenly more eager; customers looking for a cheap pocket camcorder suddenly have a new, price-competitive option with a ton more features than the typical video-recording bricks of the genre.

The iPod Touch has always had near-parity with the iPhone in terms of features, barring the obvious cellular features. The other, non-cellular differences—lack of camera, microphone, and for a while, GPS—disturbed this parity, though one assumes they were necessary for reasons of price. Adding a camera would close the gap, mostly eliminating the annoying penalty of buying a Touch over an iPhone.

Techcrunch goes so far as to say the order is big enough to expect cameras in all iPods except the shuffle—a rumor we've heard bits and pieces of before. That'd be fine, I guess, but the Touch seems like a much more obvious (and practical and functional) choice: it's already got the screen, the software and connectivity it needs to be a competitive camera product; Apple just needs to give it eyes. [Techcrunch via GadgetVenue, MacrumorsThanks, Matt!]

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DISCUSSION

I doubt this will be the disruptive product Gizmodo expects. Cameraphone sensors are a piece of crap compared to even the cheapest end of the "typical video-recording bricks of the genre", so it's not going to compete at all on the footage quality, especially in the dark. It's not going to compete on price either: the competition there is the Flip Video, which is $75. The really serious competition is the $150 stills camera with optical zoom which most people already own, or the cameraphone in their pocket which will likely take video every bit as good.

Now, the iPod Touch would have the video editing and uploading going for it. Those are big pluses, especially for convenience. It's not going to shake up the personal digital camera market though.