February 2, 2010 | by Ed Clark
A recent Apple Insider post states that a repair company has discovered that the default iPad housing contains a space for a front-facing camera that has exactly the same dimensions as the iSight found on many Apple laptops. Pictures and the story can be found here.
This is big news for Android tablet fans. My co-writers at Androinica have written a lot about tablets recently (both Android tablets and the iPad): Robert Nelson wrote about the Android-based Archos 7 Internet tablet, Marin Perez has written about the potential impact of the iPad on Android, and I wrote recently about Dell’s Mini 5 Android tablet.
An iPad with a camera is not as easy to dismiss as one without a camera. Why? The average tablet user is going to want to do several things that the iPad–as announced last week–can’t do: 1) watch streaming video in various common formats (Flash, WMV, etc), 2) simple multi-tasking, like using 3rd party apps at the same time, 3) make video calls to other users, and 4) take pictures.
As far as I can tell, Apple still isn’t addressing the first two items. However, being able to do the last two items may be enough for the Apple marketing machine to dominate this emerging market, and quickly. If you can do video chats from iPad to iPad, and send and receive pictures you have taken with iPads, you have a very sellable machine with a very desirable brand. There has even been speculation that facial recognition would be a feature, which would add more capabilities and make it even more desirable.
So why didn’t they announce a camera at the iPad launch? My Apple-fan friends believe the iSight-on-iPad thing is simply a matter of time, but why not now? The SDK supports it, and it appears that the hardware supports it as well. I wonder if it is as simple as this: The notion of video calls is a bit scary for a company which receives 40% of its revenues from its only smartphone.