Judging the accuracy of Apple rumors may not be a cakewalk, but one technique is surprisingly effective and obvious: Ask yourself if past Apple history suggests that a rumor sounds like something the company would do. By that measure, the current rumors about iPod Touch and Nano models with built-in video cameras sounds entirely plausible. The iPhone 3GS‘s camera shows Apple has invested in video-recording hardware and software. It’s gradually been turning every iPod except for the screenless Shuffle into a video device. And given that a high percentage of people who want iPods own them by now, Apple could use a strikingly new feature with wide appeal to tempt them to upgrade.
On the other hand, I’d be surprised if concurrent rumors about Apple getting ready to build projectors into iPhones and iPods are the real deal. Projectors may be getting tinier, but they aren’t yet teensy enough to cram into a phone or MP3 player that’s as thin as the ones Apple likes to make. And how often would a real person want to project an image from an iPhone or iPod in the real world? Not all that often, surely. Apple history shows that it’s not all that interested in adding exotic features that won’t be used much, and is almost never the first company to embrace a new technology. (It tends to cheerfully sit on the sidelines while other companies make bleeding-edge products that are noble in their ambitions but frustrating in practice.)
I’m not saying that there will never be Apple handheld devices with built-in projectors, but I don’t think we’re a couple of months away from seeing them. And a couple of months from now is almost certainly when Apple will announce its new lineup of iPods. Any guesses (or wishes) about what the Fall 2009 lineup of iPods will involve?