There's no hard news on the actual devices themselves yet, but a bunch of Chinese protective cases for the next-gen iPod Touch and Nano reveal they're both getting digital camera units. And that, basically, is the end of the line for Flip.
The manufacturers were told the relative dimensions of the upcoming iPod refresh back in May, and it's apparently such reliable information that they've begun churning out their third-party cases already, in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There's absolutely no word from Apple on the matter yet, as befits its rigid product secrecy habits, but the news does tie-up with some recent data on a massive Apple order for camera units.
From the cases we can deduce the iPod Touch is remaining pretty much unchanged, except for a centrally-located camera on its rear face, which appears to be roughly the same size as the for the lens on an iPhone. This makes us think it'll be the same 3-megapixel autofocus unit used in the 3G S, which makes sense since Apple just spent a lot of time making its photo and video app pretty neat indeed, with its touchscreen focus and in-device editing tricks. The Nano, meanwhile, looks like it's getting a bit of a re-jig. While the case seems to remain the same size and shape, the screen size has been bumped up, and now looks to match the widescreen proportions of the iPhone screen. Its camera is also on the back, at the side and towards the top end of the iPod, but looks like it's a much smaller unit. That suggests it won't be an autofocus unit, since there's not much room inside the Nano, and I'd guess the pixel count is only two megapixels.
And that's all very good news for Apple hardware fans. But it's terrible news for Cisco, who just spent a lot of money buying Pure Digital--the makers of the hugely successful and cheap Flip videocams. Because with iPod sales numbering in the tens of millions per year, basically Apple's could steal the Flip's market right out from under its feet. And, in fact, it's probably sealed up the entire cheap digital camera market too. The best camera is the one you have with you when something needs photographing--and who'd carry a digicam and an iPod, when the latter can do pretty much the same job as the former as well as playing music, games and videos?