apple-ipod-sept-09-1340-rm-engSteve Jobs and his sidekick Phil Schiller took the stage at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center today to debut new models of Apple’s pocket gadgets.

The most striking new product is a $149 iPod Nano that includes a tiny video camera, microphone, and speaker, yet maintains the Nano’s gumstick-slim size. It’s a marvel of miniaturization. Instead of a Flip camera, you can now slip a tiny Nano into your pocket and, assuming you can find it in there again, shoot YouTube-ready video without lugging around a full-size camera.

But Apple also debuted an upgraded version of its iPod Touch, shown off by Schiller in the photo above. It’s a handheld device that’s basically an iPhone without the phone. And without a camera.

Why no camera?

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It’s the glitch in Apple’s lineup: Both iPhone and iPod now have built-in cameras that shoot video. But if you spend $199 to $399 on an iPod Touch — Apple’s highest-priced handheld gadget, thanks to the subsidy that wireless carrier AT&T pays Apple to reduce the consumer price of iPhones — you don’t get a camera.

I’m sure any Valley product manager could whip up a convincing theory as to why it’s brilliant, just brilliant, of Apple to leave the camera off the Touch model. But I won’t believe it. The more convincing explanation comes from rumor blog AppleInsider, which claims that while Apple engineers were able to pack a super-tiny camera into the Nano, the camera unit on pre-production iPod Touches failed repeatedly for an unknown reason.

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[Photo: Engadget]