Apple introduces new iPod Touch models, but built-in cameras are nowhere to be found

Apple today introduced a refreshed line up of iPod Touch models, but noticeably absent was the inclusion of a built-in camera.

Earlier today, Steve Jobs re-claimed the stage at Apple's special media event,  and addressing the public for the first time in months, Jobs thanked the donor who gave him his transplanted liver, Apple COO Tim Cook, and the extended Apple community for their support while he was ill.

But Jobs' return to Apple is old news, and the name of the game today was new iPods, and to that end, there's a lot to discuss.

Jobs kicked off the iPod related announcements, ironically, passing off the mic to Apple Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller.  Schiller began by giving us some info on the overall success and popularity of the iPod, noting that the iPod Touch was Apple's fastest growing iPod model, though that really wasn't groundbreaking news.  To date, Apple has sold over 20 million iPod Touch devices, and Schiller spent a good deal of time harping on the fact that the iPod Touch is an amazing gaming platform, and that the success of the iTunes App Store has left Sony and Nintendo shaking in their boots.  To really drive the point home, Schiller threw up a slide listing all of the features that the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS don't have, such as no multi-touch capabilities, no app store, no iPod, and no selection of cheap games.  For a company that has been historically averse to gaming, Apple has recently embraced the iPod Touch as a gaming device with open and enthusiastic arms.  And lastly, Schiller made a point to compare the number of "Gamd & Entertainment Titles" available for each respective gaming platform.  The Sony PSP checked in with 607 titles, the Nintendo DS with 3,680, and the iPhone OS with 21,178.  Now, to be fair, many of those 21,000+ apps are completely free, and the utility of many can reasonably be put into question.  But yeah, we get the point - the iPod Touch is being positioned as a gaming device.

After bringing a few prominent iPhone game developers up on stage to discuss upcoming titles (like Madden '09), Schiller announced that the current 8GB iPod Touch will now sell for $199.  Meanwhile, 32 and 64GB iPod Touch models will soon be available for $299 and $399 respectively, and will run a bit snappier thanks to recently added OpenGL 2.0 support.

Conspicuously absent, however, was the inclusion of a video camera in any of the iPod Touch models, which left many Apple observers scratching their heads.  If there was one sure fire bet for today's media event, it was that the iPod Touch would finally come equipped with the same 3 megapixel camera found in the recently released iPhone 3GS.  Prior to today's event, word got out that technical glitches in getting the camera to work properly on the iPod Touch might cause a delay in the product's shipping date - but now it seems that Apple never intended to put a camera in the iPod Touch in the first place, which in part might be explained by a fear that doing so might cannibalize iPhone sales.

When asked directly about the lack of a camera in the iPod Touch by the New York Times, Steve Jobs said that Apple's main goal with this iteration of the Touch was to keep the price affordable.  Adding in a camera would have obviously raised the price point above what Apple thought was appropriate.  And besides, Apple likes to spread out feature upgrades slowly but surely.  The iPod Touch will inevitably get a camera, but it looks like we'll have to wait until next September.

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