Future versions of the Apple iPod could include a camera for still photos and video, adding another layer of functionality to the popular line of devices.
According to TechCrunch, which quoted from sources in Asia, Apple has placed a huge order for $10 camera modules. Simultaneously, Macrumors has published images of an iPod Touch case design that features "a centrally mounted camera hole."
TechCrunch's source suggested that "Everything but the Shuffle may have a camera in it soon," based on the apparent size of the camera module order.
If the rumors prove true, a camera-equipped iPod could offer a clear and present danger to portable digital-video recorders such as the Flip, which have built a market for relatively cheap and small video-capture devices. In March 2009, Cisco Systems announced that it was acquiring Pure Digital Technologies, which makes the Flip Video device, for $590 million in stock on top of $15 million in retention-based equity incentives.
At the time, Cisco's senior vice present of Corporate Development and Consumer Groups, Ned Hooper, said in a statement that the acquisition would allow his company "to expand our momentum in the media-enabled home and to capture the consumer market transition to visual networking."
The addition of the iPod into the digital-video space has the potential to complicate the game enormously. The new versions of the iPod, which could include cameras, are expected by the end of 2009, affording potential competitors relatively little time to devise a sufficient counter-strategy.
Although Apple's mobile devices have been a success in 2009 by any financial measure-the company sold 1 million iPhone 3G S smartphones in the device's first three days of release-it has lately become a lightning rod for some controversy over its apps approval process.
Despite a free market spirit that has led the App Store to accept over 50,000 apps ranging from Skype to zombie-blasting games, it has pulled salacious and tasteless apps such as Baby Shaker, which allowed users to virtually "shake" an infant quiet, and any applications judged to contain inappropriate adult content.
Despite periodic and short-lived controversies over those apps, though, consumers seem to be reacting positively to both the new iPhone and the iPhone 3.0 operating system, which provides a number of updated features, including copy, cut and paste functionality; a Spotlight search app; the ability to use the keyboard in landscape mode; and MMS messaging.
Apple's high profile in 2009 can also be linked to the medical travails of CEO Steve Jobs.
Apple announced on June 29 that Jobs was back at work after a six-month leave of absence for a still-undisclosed medical condition. A June 20 report in The Wall Street Journal, stating that Jobs had undergone a liver transplant at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tenn., had been confirmed by the hospital.
According to the hospital's statement, Jobs is recovering well and "has an excellent prognosis." He had previously been treated for a type of pancreatic cancer in 2004.