A Front Facing Camera for the Next iPad?

It’s been rumored for quite a while that the next iPad will ship with a front facing camera and FaceTime.  As of now that’s still, well, a rumor.  However, the folks at 9to5 Mac and CrunchGear are posting the picture to the right and reporting it is a video chat debug in the next generation iPad firmware.  It’s such an obscure shot that I can’t believe I’m even talking about it, but it would seem the next logical step in the iPad’s evolution.  This brings a  few question to mind.  Upgrading my phone every couple of years seems fairly logical because they take a lot of abuse and they are subsidized to the point of being fairly inexpensive.  What about the iPad?  It’s a larger investment.   How often will iPad owners be willing to upgrade?  Also, with a slew of pads reportedly rushing to the market based on Android, WebOS, Windows 7, etc., is anyone going to beat Apple to the punch by including a front facing camera and video chat software?  If they do, does it really matter?  Is FaceTime already king?  Apple has promised to release its protocol secrets for FaceTime.  If they follow-up with that, we may see some wonderful interoperability with other devices.  If they don’t release the protocols, will they release FaceTime to other platforms?  So many questions from the possibility of simply adding a camera to a tablet.

What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to hear your comments.

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