If you believe the week's rumors, Apple is preparing to launch a camera-equipped iPod Touch-one that would conceivably allow users to video-chat with one another via FaceTime-when it carries out an expected iPod refresh this fall.
"An iPhone parts supplier sent us these photos of what are claimed to be the front LCD and bezel of the upcoming 4th-generation iPod Touch," reads an Aug. 5 posting on the MacRumors blog. "The new part clearly shows a front-sided hole that would leave room for a front-facing FaceTime camera."
The accompanying images indeed show an LCD and bezel evocative of Apple's iPod Touch design, stamped "10-04-29" on the back. The part also features what looks like a black rubber or plastic strip, stamped "Apple (c) 2010" in white.
Other sources have suggested that a camera-equipped iPod Touch is on the way. On Aug. 5, the blog Hardmac posted a photo illustration, supposedly done by an iPod case manufacturer, showing a device with a camera aperture embedded in the back. "Even if it is hard to have a perfect view through the case," read the accompanying post, "it looks like the back is rounded, unlike the one of the new iPhone, and of course there is a camera and flash."
In late-summer 2009, rumors also abounded that Apple was working on an iPod equipped with a camera for stills and video. The company eventually released a revamped iPod Nano with built-in video camera and FM radio.
According to the latest scuttlebutt, Apple could be planning a revamp of its whole mobile-device line.
"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."
Horwitz's unnamed source apparently suggested that Apple will launch a new iPod Nano and iPod Touch, along with a revamped iPod Shuffle equipped with a touch-screen. Other predictions included a 7-inch iPad for either late 2010 or early 2011 release, cheaper all-silicon 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."
For years, Apple managed to maintain a tight veil of secrecy around its upcoming products. That changed in April 2010, when an iPhone 4 prototype was discovered in a northern California bar and publicly dissected by tech blog Gizmodo. A few weeks after that mega-traffic post-not to mention a police raid on the California home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen-images and video of another iPhone 4 prototype appeared on the Vietnamese online form Taoviet.
Those early leaks, however, did little to dampen sales of the iPhone 4. For the third fiscal quarter of 2010, Apple reported sales of 8.4 million iPhones, along with 3.27 million iPads and 3.47 million Macs. Quarterly sales of iPods fell 8 percent year-over-year, a phenomenon that Apple previously attributed to cannibalization by the iPhone.