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iPod touch with camera remains in Apple's pipeline

post #1 of 80
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A rare misstep on Apple's part saw the world's tech darling surprise in an unusual way Wednesday, leaving onlookers scratching their heads at changes -- or lack thereof -- to certain members of the iPod family.

For months, the evidence was overwhelming (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6): a camera on the fifth-generation iPod nano was as a strong likelihood, while one on the third-generation iPod touch seemed an undeniable certainty.

But as the Cupertino-based firm's "It's Only Rock and Roll" event eased to a close, it was clear things were playing out contrary to expectations. The nano, the most affordable full-function iPod, had landed a video cam while the touch, the flagship of Apple's media player arsenal, had conspicuously not.

In an interview with the New York Times, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs asserts the decision to keep a camera off the touch was financially driven. And while AppleInsider appreciates the company co-founder's play at damage control, it's a tough sell.

Like the nano, people familiar with the matter maintain that initial plans for the new iPod touch called for a camera akin to the iPhone's. Manufacturing tooling was prepped and specifications issued some time ago.

It should be noted that Apple retains an extensive cost analysis team that begins working with an established supply chain and new prospective partners on feature cost feasibility many months -- if not years -- in advance of production.

These assessments are then refined, stitched into preliminary bills of materials, and presented for approval -- sometimes via elaborate Keynote documents -- to roughly two dozen members of electronics maker's top brass.

Apple's new iPod nanos sport a video cam that the new iPod touches do not.

According to those familiar with situation, management gave the green light to equip the latest-gen touches with cams last year. But problems, as AppleInsider reported earlier in the week, began to crop up with the third party camera sensors Apple took receipt of earlier this year.

After several passes through quality assurance were met with less than stellar results in the time leading up to Wednesday's event, an executive decision was made a month ago to pull the cameras from the touches altogether, others familiar with the situation say. This is contrary to reports that suggest the matter unfolded in the final hours.

Nevertheless, Apple reportedly remains committed to delivering camera capabilities on the touch lineup as soon as possible. This update could arrive unexpectedly at existing price points on the 32GB and 64GB models, according to a third person claiming to have been briefed on the matter.

Further details will be published if and when information becomes available.
post #2 of 80
Makes sense to add it as a minor update (Jan?) just on the highest-margin models. Leaving the entry-level Touch models as cheap as possible.

Meanwhile, I bet some Touch owners will surprise themselves by getting a Nano for the sake of the camera--especially if they were looking at an SD Flip anyway (which apparently doesn't take stills either--despite all the "shock and outrage" at the nano not having a still camera).
post #3 of 80
Its really surprise to give priority to nano instead of iPod touch....
post #4 of 80
This is exactly as some of us have suspected. Makes a lot of sense.

Also, they want to re-ignite traditional iPod sales, in the meantime. A Touch with a camera will have sucked all the oxygen from the Nano.
post #5 of 80
so why aren't there any issues with iphone 3GS cameras?
post #6 of 80
If it was last minute (within the last few months) then the main PCB is probably finished and you will likely be able to find footprints where either the camera sat or a connector would have sat to connect the camera module.

Its very unlikely at that late stage they would have changed their hardware design other than removing the holes on the casing.

With that in mind, if someone has a new iPod Touch 64GB, break it open and lets take a look
post #7 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

so why aren't there any issues with iphone 3GS cameras?

You can't assume they are the same.
The 3GS camera is better than the 3G camera, which is better than the iPod Nano camera (which is VGA resolution only)
post #8 of 80
If cameras were ready to go on the third-gen hardware, up until these last minute production QA tests, then tear-downs should reveal a camera-chip-shaped gap on the circuit board, right?

Because the rumors order of events doesn't suggest they would have had a ready-to-go third-gen board with 3GS-class hardware laid out with the camera and time to retool to a backup no-camera board design.

If the gap is there, the 'manufacturing problem' story is credible and we can hold out hope for next year.

If the gap isn't there, either the camera got nixed far, far earlier in the process, or the camera rumors were always misinformation. In either 'no gap' case, I wouldn't be too optimistic for next year.
post #9 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In an interview with the New York Times, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs asserts the decision to keep a camera off the touch was financially driven. And while AppleInsider appreciates the company co-founder's play at damage control, it's a tough sell.

Like the nano, people familiar with the matter maintain that initial plans for the new iPod touch called for a camera akin to the iPhone's. Manufacturing tooling was prepped and specifications issued some time ago.

It should be noted that Apple retains an extensive cost analysis team that begins working with an established supply chain and new prospective partners on feature cost feasibility many months -- if not years -- in advance of production.

These assessments are then refined, stitched into preliminary bills of materials, and presented for approval -- sometimes via elaborate Keynote documents -- to roughly two dozen members of electronics maker's top brass.

Apple's new iPod nanos sport a video cam that the new iPod touches do not.

According to those familiar with situation, management gave the green light to equip the latest-gen touches with cams last year. But problems, as AppleInsider reported earlier in the week, began to crop up with the third party camera sensors Apple took receipt of earlier this year.

After several passes through quality assurance were met with less than stellar results in the time leading up to Wednesday's event, an executive decision was made a month ago to pull the cameras from the touches altogether, others familiar with the situation say. This is contrary to reports that suggest the matter unfolded in the final hours.

Nevertheless, Apple reportedly remains committed to delivering camera capabilities on the touch lineup as soon as possible. This update could arrive unexpectedly at existing price points on the 32GB and 64GB models, according to a third person claiming to have been briefed on the matter.

First off, interesting insight into the product approval and production process. Sounds like a huge headache.

Second, faulty parts will eventually become a financial consideration, and if they took a different tack after the faulty parts, it might be to adjust the product prices to penetrate the market with an option to add a camera in the future.

I feel like Apple is being a little overprotective. They have preemptively eliminated flawed product class action suits. Meanwhile, they have now juiced appeal for the Nano until they update the Touch.
post #10 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

so why aren't there any issues with iphone 3GS cameras?

Probably because the iPhone is thicker. Maybe the 3GS camera wouldn't fit into the thinner case, so they were going with different cameras that didn't perform to Apple expectations.
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post #11 of 80
It occurs to me that if Apple looked at the product that a vendor was supplying, asked the vendor (one assumes) to address QC issues and does not see the results desired, that it would be necessarily responsible of them to pull the addition of the feature until the device measured up to expectations. To include a faulty or under-performing camera in the touch would seem to me to be the misstep - not the reverse. Hasn't Apple been thoroughly trashed in this forum extensively for allowing other questionable device decisions to slip through. I personally thought the inclusion of an FM tuner in the nano was a misstep - but then radio is so compromised that I rarely use it - replaced by Pandora or my own playlists - sans adverts and unnecessary chatter.
post #12 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Nevertheless, Apple reportedly remains committed to delivering camera capabilities on the touch lineup as soon as possible. This update could arrive unexpectedly at existing price points on the 32GB and 64GB models, according to a third person claiming to have been briefed on the matter.

Hmm, what exactly does that mean?

Is this third person suggesting cameras could be coming on the high-end models, which aren't due to ship for 1-3 weeks (in contrast to the seemingly unchanged 8GB model, which is already available because all they did was knock off $30), and Apple simply didn't advertise the cameras?

Because that would be both awesome and possible given they did the same thing with Bluetooth on the 2nd gen iPod touch, i.e., they didn't advertise its existence until they could write firmware for it, which turned up in OS 3.0.

Yes, I've seen the gallery shots of the purported 32GB and 64GB models but you never know.

*prays those gallery photos are just mockups or that a camera is hidden in that little black Wi-Fi window*

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Also, they want to re-ignite traditional iPod sales, in the meantime. A Touch with a camera will have sucked all the oxygen from the Nano.

That's a good point too. It's also based in reality (which mine probably isn't).
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post #13 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by wobegon View Post

Hmm, what exactly does that mean?

Is this third person suggesting cameras could be coming on the high-end models, which aren't due to ship for 1-3 weeks (in contrast to the seemingly unchanged 8GB model, which is already available because all they did was knock off $30), and Apple simply didn't advertise the cameras?

Because that would be both awesome and possible given they did the same thing with Bluetooth on the 2nd gen iPod touch, i.e., they didn't advertise its existence until they could write firmware for it, which turned up in OS 3.0.

Yes, I've seen the gallery shots of the purported 32GB and 64GB models but you never know.

*prays those gallery photos are just mockups or that a camera is hidden in that little black Wi-Fi window*


That's a good point too. It's also based in reality (which mine probably isn't).

Very unlikely.
post #14 of 80
I had waited a really long time to get my first Touch and now no camera\ I decided to buy a refurbished 2nd gen 8gig model for $149 from the Apple store and will pass that on to someone once the truly new Touch comes out.
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post #15 of 80
I still say AT&T nixed it and that its been manufactured.
Putting a mic in the Touch competes directly with their iPhone profits. A skype iPod Touch that acts as a phone would dent AT&T's sales.
There is absolutely no reason why there would be a "technological" problem as many have stated it already works in the iPhone. We shall see.
post #16 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by dguisinger View Post

If it was last minute (within the last few months) then the main PCB is probably finished and you will likely be able to find footprints where either the camera sat or a connector would have sat to connect the camera module.

Its very unlikely at that late stage they would have changed their hardware design other than removing the holes on the casing.

With that in mind, if someone has a new iPod Touch 64GB, break it open and lets take a look

Yes, I'm interested to see what a teardown reveals.

Regarding Jobs' "cost" explanation to Pogue, iSuppli estimated the camera part at $9.55 in their teardown of the iPhone 3GS in June. That's within reason.

Apple's design cycle is such that these parts need to be spec'ed out months before and prototype units were well tested. The most likely scenario is that they received a bad batch of parts that was unfortunately a showstopper based on their launch schedule.

There is no logic to the explanation that the iPod touch is too thin to house a camera part. The iPod nano is 2.3mm thinner than the iPod touch and yet Apple was able to find a video camera part for that.
post #17 of 80
Deleted. cmf2 already replied.
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post #18 of 80
As far as business and keynote events are concerned the decision that was made a month ago might as well have been in the final hours.
This problem should have been caught and rectified months ago not in the final weeks before a keynote event.

Someone screwed up. The component manufacturer screwed up with the sensor and someone at Apple screwed up by assuming it would work fine with the final product. Don't any of you tell me that Steve Jobs is happy about this. If I were him I would still be kicking the snot out of whomever was responsible.
And if he is still weak from surgery then he can sit back in a recliner with a bucket of popcorn and enjoy watching his hired mercenaries beat the crap out of whomever!
post #19 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

so why aren't there any issues with iphone 3GS cameras?

My guess is because the iphone 3GS case is way thicker.
post #20 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

There is no logic to the explanation that the iPod touch is too thin to house a camera part. The iPod nano is 2.3mm thinner than the iPod touch and yet Apple was able to find a video camera part for that.

It was a video camera part on the nano - no capability to take still photos. Jobs likely didn't want to settle for just a video camera on the touch - he probably wanted 2 or 3 MP stills.

Also, if all Apple wanted to do was reuse the nano part in the touch, then there wouldn't be any technical problem with the part. If this rumor is true, it had to be a different part then the nano part.
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post #21 of 80

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post #22 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

so why aren't there any issues with iphone 3GS cameras?

The iPod Touch is only about 2 mm thicker than the camera (at its thickest point) in the 3GS, sans mount. I suppose it is possible that they could somehow get the 3GS camera into the Touch, but I doubt they're going to try. They've probably attempted to use a different camera which better fits the iPod Touch's form factor, and if this is correct, something went wrong.
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post #23 of 80
since their production runs are in the tens of millions why not just use the same case for the Touch as for the 3GS to fit the camera in there?
post #24 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by dguisinger View Post

If it was last minute (within the last few months) then the main PCB is probably finished and you will likely be able to find footprints where either the camera sat or a connector would have sat to connect the camera module.

Its very unlikely at that late stage they would have changed their hardware design other than removing the holes on the casing.

With that in mind, if someone has a new iPod Touch 64GB, break it open and lets take a look

isupply, ifixit or someone else will probably have it up soon
post #25 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

people familiar with the matter

Quote:
those familiar with situation

Quote:
others familiar with the situation say

Quote:
according to a third person

tabloid press tactics at their best.

In contrast to a Named and very Known party, Mr Jobs, stating that the company decided to take the direction of 'gaming device' for the Touch, which is in keeping with games being one of, if not THE, top category of apps in the apps store. the focus of many ads and even the focus of the screen savers Apple is running was and was running before their back to school period, on the computers in their stores.

maybe at one point someone had the idea to put a camera on the touch and maybe they did consider it. and then they got the math back which showed a better direction to take so they went that way and dumped the camera.

add also to consideration that they would not have announced their ipod event date without everything ready to ship because the standard (which played out yesterday as well) is to have everything on sale same day. so this whole "last minute issues" doesn't play

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post #26 of 80
In other words...hold of buying either of the higher two model iPod Touch's.

Probably a quiet update in about 6 months...long enough to not piss off anyone who does buy one today.
post #27 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

This is exactly as some of us have suspected. Makes a lot of sense.

Also, they want to re-ignite traditional iPod sales, in the meantime. A Touch with a camera will have sucked all the oxygen from the Nano.

Which is exactly why the current lineup makes so little sense. Apple would much rather sell you a touch than a nano because you'll spend more up front and then get hooked on the app store and spend even more.

Around my office, a place filled with people in the touch target market and more than a few touch owners, most of the discussion yesterday was about how appealing the new nano is.

When people start dreaming about mid-priced products you've done something wrong. Potential customers should always aspire to own the best and most expensive product you make.
post #28 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I still say AT&T nixed it and that its been manufactured.
Putting a mic in the Touch competes directly with their iPhone profits. A skype iPod Touch that acts as a phone would dent AT&T's sales.

There already is a mic in the second gen iPod Touch (on the clicker). Skype works just fine.
post #29 of 80
Apple could cope with any thickness issue with the iPod touch camera by making the touch a bit thicker. To my eyes, it's thinner than it needs to be and I'd love to see that added space used for a larger battery.

It'd be relatively easy for Apple to add EL models to both the iPhone and the touch. Users would trade bit more thickness for longer life, a trade many would be happy to make.

Apple needs to get over its fixation with one-shoe-fits-all. They could have half-a-dozen touches and each would be selling more than their competition's best-selling models.
post #30 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I still say AT&T nixed it and that its been manufactured.
Putting a mic in the Touch competes directly with their iPhone profits. A skype iPod Touch that acts as a phone would dent AT&T's sales.
There is absolutely no reason why there would be a "technological" problem as many have stated it already works in the iPhone. We shall see.

How do you managed to be wrong all the time? This must be some kind of record! Congratulations.

As someone who supposedly knows everything, you know that the iPod Touch is thinner than the iPhone. So it doesn't take a genius to realize that there could very well be a technological problem as a result.
post #31 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Makes sense to add it as a minor update (Jan?) just on the highest-margin models. Leaving the entry-level Touch models as cheap as possible.

Meanwhile, I bet some Touch owners will surprise themselves by getting a Nano for the sake of the camera--especially if they were looking at an SD Flip anyway (which apparently doesn't take stills either--despite all the "shock and outrage" at the nano not having a still camera).

I'm sure that's what's going to happen. It is too weird that the 16Gb Touch went missing. I suspect a mid-year upgrade too.
post #32 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

since their production runs are in the tens of millions why not just use the same case for the Touch as for the 3GS to fit the camera in there?

There would be no reason to make the case thicker if the new camera would fit in the thinner iPod Touch. They obviously weren't counting on that camera being defective.

I only wish the iPhone were as thin as the iPod Touch.
post #33 of 80
I'm not a pathetic Apple fanboy like most of you here, but I'd have to say, Apple has made the right decision here.

After adding a camera to the iPod touch, what should be the next thing they add? GPS? They've already added Bluetooth and a Microphone. Suddenly there isn't all that much separating the iPod Touch from the iPhone. They are wise to keep these two devices apart.

The only problem is that Apple is not allowing people to buy the iPhone outright, rather couples it with restrictive plans on a single network in most countries. But that's typical Apple - anti-consumer with a "do what you're told" attitude.
post #34 of 80
It's most plausible Touch's HD camera didn't pass QA muster. Job's targeted Flip during his keynote and in the NYT Pogue interview afterward. A HD camera matching Flip HD's specs is clearly on the Touch horizon.
post #35 of 80
I think people are trying to read far more into this than there is.

My assessment is that they wanted a camera with the same functionality of the iPhone on the iTouch, but that would need to be a smaller (thinner) device due to the difference in form factor between the phone and the iPod, and for whatever reason, it's not been possible to get it in time.

In many respects, Apple are a victim of their own success here - they so infrequently fail to hit release targets for things that when they occasionally do, it's a news story. Unfortunately this is engineering - you can't always meet the deadlines you want to, no matter how hard you work. I'm glad Apple still seem to put quality so high up the agenda - other companies would have shipped something they knew was not 100% and dealt with the fallout later.

Kudos to Steve Jobs for trying to suggest this was all part of the plan, but for a company that has never really paid any serious attention to gaming, it's a hard sell.

Personally I expect we'll see an iTouch with a camera once they iron out the problems, and once another point comes to market it.
post #36 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Ingersol View Post

There already is a mic in the second gen iPod Touch (on the clicker). Skype works just fine.

On the cord, that I know. But on the device itself really makes it a non-carrier phone.
post #37 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutcho View Post

I'm not a pathetic Apple fanboy like most of you here, but I'd have to say, Apple has made the right decision here.

After adding a camera to the iPod touch, what should be the next thing they add? GPS? They've already added Bluetooth and a Microphone. Suddenly there isn't all that much separating the iPod Touch from the iPhone. They are wise to keep these two devices apart.

The only problem is that Apple is not allowing people to buy the iPhone outright, rather couples it with restrictive plans on a single network in most countries. But that's typical Apple - anti-consumer with a "do what you're told" attitude.

Is the mic now on the device itself or still on the cord only?
post #38 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bregalad View Post

Which is exactly why the current lineup makes so little sense. Apple would much rather sell you a touch than a nano because you'll spend more up front and then get hooked on the app store and spend even more.

Around my office, a place filled with people in the touch target market and more than a few touch owners, most of the discussion yesterday was about how appealing the new nano is.

When people start dreaming about mid-priced products you've done something wrong. Potential customers should always aspire to own the best and most expensive product you make.

Most expensive does not always equal the highest margins. Whether we like it or not - and speaking for myself as someone who is torn, since I like it as a shareholder, but do not as a consumer - margins do matter. Because market valuations do matter.

At this point, I am quite OK with a few months of wait-and-see.
post #39 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by macnyc View Post

There would be no reason to make the case thicker if the new camera would fit in the thinner iPod Touch. They obviously weren't counting on that camera being defective.

I only wish the iPhone were as thin as the iPod Touch.

I'd prefer it slightly thicker with a kickass HD camera, flash, and zoom- and really take on the Nikons and Canons.
post #40 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by dguisinger View Post

You can't assume they are the same.
The 3GS camera is better than the 3G camera, which is better than the iPod Nano camera (which is VGA resolution only)

Yes! And it is reasonable to assume that a proposed iPod Touch camera would exceed the capabilities of an iPhone 3GS camera. Apple does this periodically-- like the larger capacity flash drive on the Touch.

Sooner or later, I suspect that Apple will offer a hi-res still/video camera with flash and physical focus lens on some device in its mobile platform. Because Apple can be more flexible (take more risks) with the touch than the phone, it makes sense to debut it on the the touch or a new tablet device.
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