Archive for the ‘ iSight ’ Category

Apple’s New iSight Camera??

While the entire Apple obsessed world both analysts and rumor sites were trying to divine any hints about the proposed Apple TV display, iLounge dropped a stealthy unique not previously suggested rumor power bomb. With so much Apple coverage, how did iLounge accomplish this feat? By suggesting a product that on the surface seems just crazy, an Apple branded camera.

Initially this rumor just seems broken, the digital camera business is currently being destroyed by the ever increasingly capable smartphone cameras. The point and shoot camera business in particular is a disaster right now. The only camera product line with some buzz right now is the micro Four Thirds thinner cameras with swappable lenses like the Sony NEX lineup. Improved future iPhone cameras are a given, but a stand alone camera just seems silly. Or does it?

iLounge does a great job laying out the argument. Here’s an image from 9TO5Mac of the article that started the rumor found in the iLounge’s great iPad User’s Guide.

iPhones/iPads will reach a limit in camera capability due to the ever increasing demands of weight, battery life (interior space for a battery), and drive to keep down thickness. In particular, the ability to optically zoom is the main issue. The thinness requirement won’t ever allow a real optical zoom lens.

In the drive to add more features and capabilities, camera OSes/interfaces are total mess of buttons and menus. Horrible GUIs and horrible navigation experience. Sounds like ripe territory for a certain company that creates ground breaking intuitive interfaces.

Cameras are still a $68 billion business. So there’s cash to be made there.

A networked camera or camera that auto syncs wirelessly with an iPhone/iPad and then with iCloud would seamlessly work with the entire Apple ecosystem of hardware and software.

Photography was always a passion of Steve Jobs. Jobs’ frequently acknowledged the influence of Polaroid founder Ed Land.  Jobs was fascinated with the new Lytro camera that works on a completely new light capture principle. Graphics have always been a key industry for Apple. So unlike a TV, this is more in Apple’s wheelhouse. It’s a classic area where art (the humanities) intersects with technology.

Apple has renewed their hold on the trademark/brand name iSight, and adjusted the trademark to cover a stand alone camera. And there are a number of job listings at apple.com related to camera technologies.

What does MoD think of this rumor which iLounge goes to great pains to point out came from an excellent source and that the device is being developed to launch after the rumored Apple TV display?

Well Apple did have a digital camera before, and it was overpriced piece of junk, so that’s certainly on the negative side of things.  Apple used to make printers too, and could probably create an excellent printer, but I don’t see Apple getting back into that business. While the camera industry is $68 billion right now, is that number just going to continue to drop leaving only the high end professional camera industry left? The high end camera industry requires a large investment in R/D to maintain market position. Is there really a significant enough delta in picture quality between what the iPhone camera will be able to do in the future and a stand alone camera in the sweet price range ($300 to $400 for the stand alone cameras).  Can Apple create something before the super Four Thirds designs eventually drop to that sweet price spot? Wouldn’t Apple’s resources be better spent on developing API s or a communication protocol to work with other camera companies in the same way AirPrint works with wireless printers?

However….

The megapixel spec war that drove the digital camera industry is becoming increasing irrelevant. Apple could develop a camera OS interface that is so easy and innovative that it gives back power to the average user to take great photos in all kinds of environments. If Apple could bury all the tech and all the specs/settings behind this GUI, then it could to use Horace Dediu favorite term “disrupt” a large part of the photography industry. Apple could even open the device to application developers. Perhaps the first camera has a power zoom lens that is not swappable, but works for 80% of the situations. It’s the iPhoto of cameras, then later maybe Apple releases the Aperture level camera with swappable lenses and perhaps partners with a major player for lens compatability. Still I’m imagining something like the Sony NEX – 3 with an iPhone type touch screen on the back.

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