It's that time of year again: As September approaches, along with Apple's expected refresh of its iPod line, the rumor mill has already begun to crank into high gear on the subject of the company's next generation of portable devices.
In 2009, rumors centered on an iPod equipped with a camera for stills and video; that eventually arrived in the form of the revamped iPod Nano, which included a built-in video camera and FM radio. This time around, the early scuttlebutt suggests multiple iPod models will be updated.
"Take this report with the requisite grains of salt, but here's what we've heard about the upcoming late 2010/early 2011 iPod, iPhone and iPad lineups from a highly reliable source," Jeremy Horwitz, editor-in-chief of iLounge, wrote Aug. 4. "Our sources' accuracy level is very high but not perfect, which is about as good as can be expected given the nature of Apple-related leaks."
According to Horwitz's unnamed source, Apple will launch a new iPod Nano, a new iPod Touch and what could be a touch-screen-enabled replacement for the iPod Shuffle. Also predicted: a 7-inch iPad for either late 2010 or early 2011 release, cheaper all-silicone iPhone bumpers and a fifth-generation iPhone possibly due in early 2011.
"It's unknown whether this will be a repackaging of iPhone 4 components in a different shell or something more substantial. We reiterate: It's hard to believe," Horwitz wrote about the iPhone rumor. "But as with so many seemingly farfetched early reports, it's not impossible."
Another blog, Hardmac, suggested that an iPod Touch 4 with a camera aperture could be on the way-at least based on a photo illustration supposedly done by an iPod case manufacturer. "Even if it is hard to have a perfect view through the case," Hardmac said Aug. 5, "it looks like the back is rounded, unlike the one of the new iPhone, and of course there is a camera and a flash."
While Apple generated revenues of $15.7 billion for the third fiscal quarter of 2010, reported sales of iPods declined 8 percent from the same quarter in 2009; the company has long said cannibalization by the iPhone is at least partially responsible for the decrease. During the same quarter, Apple sold 3.27 million iPads, 3.47 million Macs and 8.4 million iPhones.
A July 21 note from research company iSuppli predicted that Apple could become the world's second-largest OEM semiconductor buyer in 2011, on its way to becoming the top global chip purchaser in 2012, on the strength of its devices' sales.