Jobs' Excuse for No-Camera iPod touch Doesn't Click

This week's iPod event in San Francisco left many Apple watchers wondering why the iPod Touch didn't get a video camera, while the less sophisticated iPod nano did. After all, the jack-of-all-trades Touch, with its iPhone-like feature set, seemed a natural for a camera.

Not so, said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who attempted to clarify his company's strategy in a post-keynote interview with New York Times' tech columnist David Pogue. Jobs said that Apple's customers see the iPod Touch as a "game machine" rather than as a phone-less iPhone or pocket computer. For that reason, Apple felt it was more important to cut the price of the entry-level 8GB Touch to $199 (down from $229), which would boost sales and draw more people to the App Store. "We don't need to add new stuff," Jobs said.

Mere Spin?

I credit Jobs for coming up with a creative answer, but his explanation doesn't wash. How would the addition of a video camera impact Apple's ability to market the touch as a portable game machine? Consumers would likely see the camera as a positive, not a negative, even if they had no great need for it. And gamers would be happy that, in addition to the touch's myriad other functions, it shoots video too.

The claim that the iPod Touch needs to hit the $199 price point? That's just as fishy. Remember that the touch became a massive hit at $229, and a camera-equipped model would give Apple a solid justification to maintaining the original price. Furthermore, since when did Apple focus on price rather than on overall value? Jobs' we-had-to-hit-$199 excuse seems to contradict the company's premium-brand philosophy.

Defective Cameras to Blame?

Now it appears there may be more to the camera-less iPod touch story. Apple Insider is reporting that the next-gen touch was indeed slated to get a camera, but that plans were scrapped due to problems with third-party camera sensors that Apple received earlier this year. Citing sources "familiar with the situation," Apple Insider also says that Apple does indeed plan to add cameras to the touch family "as soon as possible."

If Apple does bring a camera to the iPod Touch in the near future, it would show that Jobs' game-machine claim was merely spin.

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

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