Apple's Next-Gen iPods Experiencing Technical Difficulties, Reports Claim

Apple could be facing technological issues with its next generation of iPod media-player devices, specifically with the camera modules rumored to be integrated into the devices, according to rumors abounding on a number of blogs and sites. Although Apple is widely expected to announce its new line of iPods during its Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, it is a far unlikelier proposition that either the much-rumored Apple tablet PC or CEO Steve Jobs will make an appearance.

Apple may be having technical difficulties with its upcoming generation of iPods, according to a number of online sources. The issue in question centers on the cameras allegedly being integrated into the media-player devices.

Sources trusted by both AppleInsider and Hardmac apparently told the sites that problems had developed with the camera modules, but further details were not forthcoming. A new iPod line is expected as the focus of Apple's Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, but a technological issue with the devices has the potential to delay their ultimate release to the street.

Invitations to media for that event at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater feature a dancing silhouette against a colorful background, above the tagline, "It's only rock and roll, but we like it." Despite that line being a variation on a Rolling Stones lyric, some online pundits have suggested that Apple could be planning to announce a long-rumored deal to place the Beatles catalog on iTunes.

Rumors about cameras integrated into the iPod have been long-running. In July, TechCrunch reported, via Asian sources, that Apple had ordered a massive quantity of $10 camera modules; another blog,, published spy photos allegedly of an iPod Touch case with a camera hole.

A full rundown of Apple iPod rumors can be found at TechCrunch.

A camera-equipped iPod would be a game-changer in the digital-video recorder category, possibly endangering product lines such as the Flip Video device, whose parent company Pure Digital Technologies was acquired by Cisco Systems on March 19 for $590 million in stock and $15 million in retention-based equity incentives.

Despite reported overall profits of $1.23 billion during its most recent quarter, Apple saw its quarterly iPod sales decline over the same period by 7 percent, to 10.2 million units sold. During a July 21 earnings call, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer suggested that this decrease was due to a natural cannibalization of the traditional iPod market by the iPod Touch and iPhone line.

Besides the much-rumored new iPods, Apple will supposedly release one or more tablet PCs at some point in 2010. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has been steadily drumbeating the release of such a device, noting in an Aug. 7 research note that a tablet would occupy the space in Apple's product line between the iPod Touch and the MacBook.

Equipped with a 7- to 10-inch screen, an Apple tablet would possess functionality for a wide range of tasks; it could potentially serve as an e-reader, or as a second screen for a user's MacBook. Munster estimated that a multi-touch tablet would sell 2 million units in 2010, feeding Apple another $1.2 billion per revenue if the devices sold at an average of $600 per unit.

However, the rumor mill has generally pooh-poohed the notion that Apple will use the Sept. 9 event to debut a tablet. A larger question at the moment is whether CEO Steve Jobs, still recovering from a liver transplant in April for an unspecified condition, will make an appearance.