Hey, Apple, Why No Video Camera for the iPod Touch?

Wednesday's Apple Music Event may not have unveiled any astounding or amazing products. But if you're a fan of the iPod Touch, as I am, you may have felt a bit miffed that Apple's multitalented media player didn't get a video camera.

That's right: The iPod Nano got a video cam, but the iPod touch didn't. If you ask me, the touch, with its built-in Wi-Fi, gaming capabilities, and larger display, would be a natural for a vid cam. And since the iPhone 3GS, the Touch's mobile phone sibling, already has a camera, adding said feature to the touch wouldn't exactly be a feat of complex engineering.

Why the Snub?

On the surface, it appears as if Apple is striving to draw a clearer distinction between the 16GB iPod Nano ($179, video camera), 8GB iPod Touch ($199, no camera), and the 8GB iPhone 3GS ($199 with two-year AT&T contract, video camera, phone).

But if true, does this distinction truly benefit Apple? NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin says it's "strange" that Apple would add a video camera to the Nano, but not to the Touch. But unlike me, he doesn't see the camera-less Touch as an attempt by Apple to "avoid more direct competition with the iPhone."

"Clearly Apple added Open GL capabilities to make the iPod touch a more robust platform," says Rubin. The 32GB and 64GB iPod touch models are now 50 percent faster, according to Apple, and feature support for the Open GL|ES 2.0 graphics API.

Given these capabilities, a camera-equipped touch would have benefitted Apple, particularly as it gears up to compete with inexpensive consumer camcorders like Pure Digital's Flip UltraHD. "The addition of a camera, combined with Wi-Fi would have given Apple more of an advantage in terms of uploading video versus, say, the Flip," Rubin says.

Another Theory

Another explanation for a video-cam equipped Nano is that it gives Apple's venerable MP3 player a shot in the arm. A recent study by stock market day trader Andy Zaky shows that iPod sales revenues are falling as consumers upgrade to smartphones and more sophisticated media players (like the iPod Touch) -- devices that do a lot more than play tracks. It's likely that a Nano that also shoots video would appeal to value-focused shoppers as the holiday season approaches.

Says Rubin: "The Nano has been a very strong seller during the holidays. It's small and portable. Offering the camera on it is more of a way to differentiate it from other media playback devices that are competing in the midrange of the market."

Still, the iPod Touch deserves a camera. Perhaps next year?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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