Steve Jobs: Why The iPod Touch Doesn’t Have a Camera

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Why doesn’t the new iPod touch have a camera? And why can’t the nano take still pictures? Steve Jobs gave David Pogue of the New York Times some answers…

… apparently customers don’t want a camera in their iPod touch, Jobs said. It’s a cheap gaming device, and Apple wanted to concentrate on getting the price down to the magic $200 price point rather than stuffing distractions like cameras into it.

And the nano is just too small for the tricky sensors required to take still shots and auto focus, Jobs said.

Here’s what he told Pogue:

Pogue: You put a camcorder on the iPod Nano. Why not on the iPod Touch?

Steve: Originally, we weren’t exactly sure how to market the Touch. Was it an iPhone without the phone? Was it a pocket computer? What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine. Because a lot of the games were free on the store. Customers started to tell us, “You don’t know what you’ve got here — it’s a great game machine, with the multitouch screen, the accelerometer, and so on.”

We started to market it that way, and it just took off. And now what we really see is it’s the lowest-cost way to the App Store, and that’s the big draw. So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199. We don’t need to add new stuff — we need to get the price down where everyone can afford it.

Pogue: How come the Nano can now record video, but can’t take stills?

Steve: The sensors for doing video are fairly thin. The sensors for doing a still camera, at much higher pixel resolution — and we’d really like to have autofocus — they are just way too thick to ever fit inside the Nano.

This strikes us as unconvincing. Look at the outcry about the touch’s lack of a camera. The one thing customers were looking forward to was a camera. And if Apple can stuff a camera inside the nano, which starts at $149, why can’t put a similar camera in a $199 touch without raising the price?

Same goes for the still camera in the nano. If Apple can jam an auto-focusing still camera into the iPhone 3GS — which isn’t exactly a big fat brick — how come similar hardware couldn’t be included in the nano?

Answer: It’s all about product differentiation. If the touch has a camera, who is going to buy the nano, or the iPhone for that matter? And if the nano has a still camera, who’s going to buy the touch? As Jobs said in his first answer to Pogue, it’s all about marketing the devices.