The key chip in the iPod is designed by a company called PortalPlayer. Because these guys are filing to go public, they have had to post some interesting risks and opportunities in their prospectus.

Their current chipsets can handle other functions that have not yet been integrated into iPod functionality. But we have heard from other sources about the additional (yet undisclosed) functions that are possible. Well, here are some of them:

QUOTE:

 PortalPlayer also describes the functions of its chips in the filing–a list of features Apple could choose to add to the iPod without having to change chip suppliers. Among the technologies PortalPlayer said it supports are Bluetooth and Ethernet networking as well as the ability to create and play photo slide shows that are synchronized to music. The company’s most advanced chip, the PP5020 supports both color LCD displays as well as output to a TV or printer and a connection directly to a digital camera. The company did not list a chip that supports video playback, though it sees that as one direction in which the market appears to be headed. Apple has indicated that it does not see as big a market for portable video-playing devices, noting that music is something that one can enjoy in the background, while movie watching is a more dedicated activity.

UNQUOTE

So here we have a possible future generation iPod, assuming that Apple keeps this supplier and uses more of the available functionality. It has a 100GB hard drive (or higher), it contains your music (from iTunes), and your pictures (from iPhoto), it has a bluetooth connection so that you can print, file-exchange, and transfer photos to and from your digital camera, and phone; it has a colour screen for viewing your photos; it does slideshows (iPhoto groups synced to iPod groups); and you can connect it to your TV so that you can show slides to your friends. It would also accept your digital camera connection so that you can use it as a photo wallet so that you can download your pictures from your smart cards and then keep taking more pictures while on the road. Geez, if people are snapping them up now, what will happen if they do all of this?!

Certainly the trend is also to allow more transactions from the device up to the computer. It started as a one-way sync. Music synced from the computer down. Period. But now they have ratings and even audio-book chapter markings that get transferred back up to the computer. So they should be able to have more photos be dumped into the iPod, for later sync to the master computer’s iPhoto library. That would not require a major user interface change. I’m sure they can do that with the wheel interface.

Here’s hoping Apple makes use of some of those extra functions! I for one would love a device like this!