Although John Gruber over at Daring Fireball predicted it a couple weeks ago, I think most of us were shocked when it turned out that Apple’s newly announced iPad tablet didn’t have a forward mounted camera.
After all, why not? With an entry-level price and a $29.95 unlimited 3G coverage plan, the iPad seems like it would afford a perfect solution for mobile video calling. Hell, even if it didn’t have those things, surely it would be just as good as, say, a MacBook in letting people play around in Photo Booth. Right?
No. I think Apple knew what they were doing here. Unless it’s mounted in the iPad keyboard dock accessory, the iPad is going to be predominantly used in a below eye-level position. What that means is that a forward fronted web cam would need to point upwards at a slant to capture a human face.
So what, our lithe and muscular long-necked readers ask? Two words: double chin. Or three words, if you prefer: double triple chins.
I honestly believe right now that this is the number one reason the iPad isn’t a video conferencing device, like many of us suspected: the camera has to point upwards to capture a face, and that is one of the last flattering photography angles around… at least as far as capturing a human face is concerned.
There’s a reason all those single overweight girls you know on Facebook do the “over-the-head” digicam profile shot: a photograph of a subject becomes less flattering the father you move the camera southwards from eye-level.
Your face looks thinnest (and therefore, by Western beauty standards, most attractive) when the shot it taken from a viewpoint pointing down at your face from above.
In other words: if the iPad had a front-mounted camera, most of the time, you’d look fatter than you are.
This might seem like an unimportant consideration, but no other tech company on the market cares as much about what its customers look like when they use their products than Apple.
Apple products aren’t mere gadgets. They’re lifestyle facilitators and fashion accessories.
In my opinion, the iPad doesn’t have a front-mounted web cam for one and one reason only. It’s not a technical challenge. It’s not because Apple doesn’t want to cannibalize sales. It all comes down to one reason and one reason only…
Apple just doesn’t want us to look fat.