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5/2/09

Next iPhone Going To Be Video Powerhouse?


Posted by Eric Zeman, May 1, 2009 Information Week
In an opinion piece, BusinessWeek conjures images of a video recording and editing powerhouse in the next version of the iPhone. We're talking much more than shooting 30-second snippets here, we're talking about on-device video editing. Will it happen?

In an article posted yesterday, BusinessWeek writer Peter Burrows waxes poetic about what tricks Apple might have up its collective sleeve with respect to a new iPhone. The big change will be new video powers.

This is something I've been longing for.

Burrows makes a decent case. He writes, "Apple will make the iPhone a one-stop studio for recording, editing, viewing and sharing your own videos." He cites a source "familiar with Apple's plans" for the next iPhone and notes that shooting video will be as easy as using the Pure Digital Flip. Beyond just shooting video, Apple will install elements of its video editing software, iMovie, on the iPhone itself, allowing for on-device editing. Don't forget an easy way to upload to YouTube.

Now that we're just over a month from WWDC and its keynote address, iPhone-mania is building at an insane pace. iPhone developers have discovered nuggets in the iPhone OS 3.0 source code that suggest the device will be able to capture video with its camera module.

Throw in the reports we've seen of massive orders for Flash modules and 3.2- and 5.0-megapixel camera sensors made by Apple, and an interesting picture is beginning to take shape. Will Apple add video to the current iPhone hardware, or reserve it for newer, more capable hardware?

The iPhone's camera and camera software has long been one of the device's biggest limitations. Sure, it's easy to use and takes decent pictures in broad daylight, but without a flash, without autofocus, without any good on-device controls over elements such as brightness, contrast, or white balance, it leaves a lot to be desired. If Apple really is planning a video-shooting and -editing iPhone, it has to improve the camera module.

To this day, the best video I've shot with a cell phone was taken by a Nokia (NYSE: NOK) N95, which captures at 30 frames per second and has a 5-megapixel sensor. Could Apple match that?

I hope so.

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