Apple Working on Standalone Point-and-Shoot Digital Camera?

In Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder was quoted as saying that his desires for the future involved the reinvention of three industries: television, textbooks, and photography. With Apple's iBooks Textbooks initiative for the iPad underway and the company reportedly working on television from both hardware and content sides, it has been unclear exactly what Jobs and Apple might have had in the works to address photography. Isaacson's biography did note that Jobs had met with the CEO of Lytro, creators of an innovative new light field camera system, although it is unclear how much direct interest Jobs and Apple had in Lytro's technology.

Earlier this week, iLounge released its comprehensive New iPad Buyers' Guide, an overview of accessories, apps and other information associated with the new iPad. As noted in the announcement about the guide's release, it includes a two-page spread arguing that Apple may be working on a camera product of some sort. According to iLounge, the speculation in the guide is informed by claims from a source, although the information was not considered reliable enough to make concrete assertions at the time.

Take special note of pages 152 and 153—“Making the case for a standalone iSight Camera.” I’ll share more on this topic shortly, but for now, I’ll say that this two-page spread very nearly had a different title. We were tipped that this project is actually happening at Apple right now, but we didn’t feel confident enough in our source to call it a certainty; it’s therefore billed as speculation. Still, there’s enough smoke to make us think there’s a fire.

ilounge isight camera speculation
Excerpt from iLounge's New iPad Buyers' Guide speculation on a standalone camera

iLounge now appears to be becoming more confident in its belief that Apple is working on a standalone camera product, with Editor in Chief Jeremy Horwitz issuing a Tweet a short time ago reiterating the claim.

So, as briefly noted on Backstage, Apple appears to be working on a standalone camera - the third of three industries Jobs wanted to change.

While we've assumed that any advances by Apple in photography would most likely come via the iPhone given that many users are abandoning standalone point-and-shoot cameras for increasingly powerful cameras included on their smartphones, iLounge argues that Apple will look to remake the point-and-shoot market with new hardware and software that isn't constrained by the limitations of the iPhone.

As much as iPhones (and iPads) have improved in camera technology over the past two years, Apple’s goal is to keep slimming them down, which limits the light-gathering and zoom capabilities of camera sensors and lenses - image quality compromises. A standalone digital camera could accommodate a bigger sensor and integrated zoom lens, which Apple would select as a “satisfies most needs” option rather than offering detachable lenses. Lytro’s minimalist body for the Light Field Camera shows how simple it could get, but Apple would want a much larger screen.

Apple had a partnership with Kodak in the mid-1990s to produce the QuickTake line of digital cameras, but the product line was discontinued upon Steve Jobs' 1997 return to the company as he sought to streamline Apple's business. The company has of course continued to work on camera technology, in large part with its line of accessory and integrated iSight cameras over the years, but there has been little evidence of an interest in returning to the standalone digital camera business.

It's hard to place much faith in the rumor at this point, and iLounge doesn't expect any Apple camera product to be introduced until after the long-rumored Apple television set makes its debut, but it does make for interesting discussion and we'll keep watching for any other signs of Apple's interest in photography products as time goes on.

Update: iLounge has now published an article outlining the circumstantial evidence for Apple's work on a standalone camera product.

Top Rated Comments

dashiel Avatar
137 months ago
The end of Apple...

Has been a common refrain for 20 years.
Score: 101 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TennisandMusic Avatar
137 months ago
I hate the copy in that mockup. "Todays cameras confuse users with way too many options based on legacy concepts."

Is this really what its come to? Don't learn anything? Don't understand how anything works? Start insinuating that a skills based task is actually bad? This is the one mentality Apple has brought to the table that I loathe.
Score: 70 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GoGa Avatar
137 months ago
Not going to happen, they'll just make the iPhone camera better. (the 4S already has a camera comparable to most point and shoots.)
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Roessnakhan Avatar
137 months ago
While Apple has made an awesome camera in the iPhone 4 and 4S, I can't see them doing a point-and-shoot. People are already swaying away from P&S cameras because of phones like the iPhone.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Piggie Avatar
137 months ago
1st a TV, now a Camera?

What next iWash and iDry kitchen appliances ?

iFlush :D
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
basesloaded190 Avatar
137 months ago
I hope this never happens. Leave the cameras to companies like Nikon and Cannon please.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature

FBI Calls End-to-End Encryption 'Deeply Concerning' as Privacy Groups Hail Apple's Advanced Data Protection as a Victory for Users

Thursday December 8, 2022 2:45 am PST by
Apple yesterday announced that end-to-end encryption is coming to even more sensitive types of iCloud data, including device backups, messages, photos, and more, meeting the longstanding demand of both users and privacy groups who have rallied for the company to take the significant step forward in user privacy. iCloud end-to-end encryption, or what Apple calls "Advanced Data Protection,"...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple Music Sing in iOS 16.2

Wednesday December 7, 2022 12:24 pm PST by
With the iOS 16.2 release candidate that came out today, Apple added the new Apple Music Sing feature that was announced earlier this week. We thought we'd check out the new karaoke feature to see how it works. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple Music Sing is available on modern iPhones and iPads, as well as the newest Apple TV 4K. It's built in to the Apple...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple to Charge Under $100,000 for Apple Car, Launch Planned for 2026

Tuesday December 6, 2022 2:31 pm PST by
Apple is aiming to launch an Apple-branded consumer-oriented vehicle by 2026, and its goal is to hit a price point under $100,000 to make the car appeal to a wider range of customers, reports Bloomberg. Apple initially planned to design a car that might look similar to Canoo's Lifestyle Vehicle, where passengers could face one another in a limousine-style car with no steering wheel or...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Expected to Launch Next Week With These 12 New Features

Thursday December 8, 2022 7:05 am PST by
iOS 16.2 is expected to be released next week following nearly two months of beta testing. With last-minute additions like Apple Music Sing and Advanced Data Protection, the software update now has over a dozen new features for the iPhone. Below, we've recapped many of the new features coming with iOS 16.2, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets, the...
introducing apple music sing

Apple Music Adding a Karaoke Experience With Apple Music Sing

Tuesday December 6, 2022 7:09 am PST by
Apple today announced Apple Music Sing, a new feature in Apple Music that lets users sing their favorite songs with adjustable vocals and more. Apple Music Sing will utilize Apple Music's real-time lyrics to allow users to sing to their favorite songs using adjustable vocals, background vocals, and duet view to allow more than one singer.Apple Music Sing includes: Adjustable vocals: Users...
Twitter Feature

Twitter to Charge $11 Per Month for Twitter Blue on iPhone, $7 on Website

Wednesday December 7, 2022 6:47 pm PST by
Twitter plans to charge $11 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription on the iPhone in order to account for the 30 percent cut that Apple takes from in-app purchases, reports The Information. On the web, Twitter Blue will be priced at $7 per month. Prior to when Twitter Blue was paused, Twitter was charging $7.99 for a subscription, but the pricing will change before it relaunches. According ...
Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature

Apple Announces End-to-End Encryption Option for iCloud Photos, Notes, Backups, and More

Wednesday December 7, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today announced it is expanding end-to-end encryption to many additional iCloud data categories on an opt-in basis for enhanced security. iCloud already protects 14 data categories using end-to-end encryption by default, including the Messages app when backups are disabled, passwords stored in iCloud Keychain, Health data, Apple Maps search history, Apple Card transactions, and more,...