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Summary:

If you are already struggling with the decision of whether or not to go ahead and buy a first generation iPad model, then a new rumor that has sprung up regarding the device might help you make up your mind. The rumor has me leaning strongly […]

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If you are already struggling with the decision of whether or not to go ahead and buy a first generation iPad model, then a new rumor that has sprung up regarding the device might help you make up your mind. The rumor has me leaning strongly towards a “Do Not Buy” state of mind, for the very same reason that I didn’t pick up the last revision of the iPod touch.

That reason being, it seems Apple may be holding back some important features to make the next iteration of the device seem more attractive. And now there’s some evidence to back up that assumption, so I’m not just acting out of early adopter paranoia.

iPad Camera

The lack of a camera was one of the biggest complaints many iPad naysayers had following the reveal of Apple’s exciting new creation. That’s what makes it so painful that Mission Repair, a licensed Apple repair partner, noted when it received a shipment of parts for the upcoming device that the iPad’s frames contain a space seemingly intended to house a camera. Putting a MacBook camera in that space, in fact, resulted in a perfect fit. Photos of the frame with and without the MacBook’s iSight camera inserted are available over at the Mission Repair blog right now, so you can see for yourself how perfectly they work together.

Add to that the fact that 9 to 5 Mac reported earlier in the week that the demo tablet Steve Jobs was using on stage during the announcement last week appeared to have camera holes according to pictures taken by some of those with higher quality cameras sitting closest to the stage. The photos definitely reveal something resembling a camera lens at the top of the iPad bezel.

Innovation vs. Staged Release

Either I’m becoming more savvy, Apple is becoming more transparent, or this business of withholding specific bits and pieces from products in order to increase the consumer appeal of subsequent iterations is the new standard for Cupertino. I suspect the last is true, and it’s spoiling my ordinarily ravenous appetite for conspicuous consumption of Apple products. I remember how right it seemed to buy the iPod touch when it first came out, and I felt at the time I didn’t need a smartphone (I didn’t, and I still probably don’t). It seemed like the natural evolution of the iPod, with nothing left out.

The iPad is more like a movie prequel. With prequels, the destination or endpoint of the film is generally accepted and known by the audience, but we go and see them to see how that thing came to be. The first-generation iPad is a good story about the device it will eventually become, but it doesn’t feel like something terribly worthwhile in and of itself.

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  1. Watch out,
    Tomorrow will be “Flash capability rumored for the iPad” day. I kinda figured this would happen with the different things the first model had. Seriously..it was a demo model. I was confused why everyone was so furious. Nothing is “perfect” upon its first release.

  2. Afterthought,
    Personally, I think the mass populous placed expectations that were too high on the device, especially considering the details that Apple didn’t feed the media prior to the release. No information, should equal no expectation. But thats just me.

  3. That is exactly the reason why I won’t by the first iPad. I strongly believe that Apple is withholding features on purpose — features that have nothing to do with “the technology not being available yet.” iPad v2 will have a camera and more memory, but will lack certain features that will be available in v3. Understandable, but it pisses me off. I bought a iPhone 3G and only a few months later the 3GS arrived. Problem is, people let Apple get away with it… me included.

  4. Guys,

    When has Apple (or any other company, for that matter) NOT done this? The first generation of any new device (iPod, iPhone, etc) is always a compromise. New product development is hard and you have to make your first release as simple as you can without making it too simple – a fine line to walk.

    The first iPhone had no GPS, remember? The first iPods didn’t play video and didn’t even have color screens. The first cellphones weighed pounds, not ounces.

    A much better guess here would be that the software support for a camera (controlling the camera itself, new applications for chat, etc) wasn’t ready yet, so the camera stayed out. When you think about it, a camera isn’t nearly as important for an iPad as it would be for a device you carry around on your person all the time. The iPad will be used a lot more around the office or the house, not carried around with you everywhere.

    I think we’ll also see the iPad eventually get an IR port so that it can be a universal remote, but it’s easy to see that Apple might put that off for later.

    Everything gets better with time.

  5. Get over the camera… hardly anyone video chats anyway. Its like kids, tell them they can’t have something and suddenly they want it. 99% won’t use the video camera for calls – if everyone wanted to use it, it would be widespread on phones. Can’t believe the hype over such an unused feature. This is a crazy decision to say don’t buy the product – the 2nd generation will probably be another year away. Why don’t you wait till version 10? wait 10 years and I’m sure that one will be even better.

    1. Grandparents want to see their kids and grand kids. The ipad can open up a whole new world to grandparents. The camera is key.

    2. No, the camera is not “key.” It’s an unused feature! If the grandparents want to see their grandparents, the grandkids can get off the ipad/couch and hobble over to the nearest computer and log on there!

    3. anniefromtheblog Panny Saturday, March 6, 2010

      I am on the move frequently, my family all live abroad. I am from the ex-pat community which is huge and covers the globe. There are plenty of people who will benefit from the camera; people who don’t want to buy the device twice. I’ll wait it out.

    4. Well, Panny many people do use video chatting have you ever heard of a Macbook by Apple with an iSight camera. For photo booth or ichat did you ever think about that and many MODERN phones do have camera so don’t say that nobody uses that feature. Oh wait Panny look at the keynote picture and you”ll see the camera.

    5. Grandparents who like to streamline would like to toss their MACs and focus on one “fun” device, using their office PCs for their real work, thank you. If apple devices don’t have the bells and whistles, what is the point?

  6. My point wasn’t that any company tells the consumer that they cant have something and then they give it to them. The point was that in the iPad’s case that Apple didn’t release any information before release. The disappointment was only a factor upon release because of the hype that came from the community about the iPad and its possible features and capabilities. Common sense would say, why speculate on something that we didn’t know anything about? What would be the point besides setting themselves up for disappointment. Really, when the release happened, no one should have had any expectations about the iPad before knowing exactly what they releasing even on the first run and foresee things like the camera for example as an added feature to future runs. I will agree though that the iPad should have been seen on the demo with Flash capabilities. That hurt the release more than anything else.

  7. The “meh” factor of seeing the iPhone OS blown up on a ten inch 1024×768 display won’t go away by closing some gaping holes in the spec sheet.

    The existence of room for a camera isn’t proof that it will be occupied, anyway.

  8. Matthew Frederick Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    The other possibility, of course, is that the March announcement of availability will include a surprise camera, much like that last-minute iPhone announcement of a glass screen and the YouTube app.

    Not a given by any means, but certainly a possibility.

  9. I think the lack of a camera may have more to do with keeping the costs down in relation to the price. Remember, Apple wanted to put this device in the hands of many. They had to bring it to market at an attractive price, so something had to give. I have no problem with the iPad not having one, it is the least used feature on any of my Macs. And who wants a cam that shoots up your nostrils video? Besides, if you truly want one, I am sure there will be 3 party options that sit on top of the device. And I am sure you will be able to move the cam to an attractive desired position (something a fixed cam could not do).

  10. Costs, no excuse, its buttons in the grand scheme of things. Apparently the 3G chip costs $7 and they price you pay is much more. All things considered there are other costs but my point being that the hardware is cheap. I do think apple screwed up not putting a web cam in and many, many people will wait. It was the perfect device for it, way more convenient than a PC whoops Mac I mean. I suppose one thing it will guarantee sales of the next generation assuming Microsoft don’t get in first. It is really annoying to think that in 12 months I would potentially have to fork out or wait for the solution with an webcam. Apple should just stick it in there and surprise everyone when they pull it out of the box for the first time – Surprise!!!

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