iLounge reported in May that Apple is allegedly working on a “standalone digital camera, specifically a point-and-shoot model.” The website further said the device would deliver an image quality far beyond what the iPhone and iPad could deliver and attributed its information to sources, camera-related job openings at Apple, a re-trademarked iSight filing, and Walter Isaacson’s biography on Apple’s late cofounder. According to Isaacson, Steve Jobs named photography as one of three industries that he wanted to transform.

With that said, a camera would be a decidedly high-end market that Apple is seen exiting post haste (see Mac Pro, etc.). A REAL CAMERA with iOS camera apps would seem cool, but Apple does not take this type of high-volume market seriously. Most people are perfectly content with the amazing iPhone camera…and the new iPhone’s camera can only get better.

Nevertheless, perhaps Apple needs another hobby. Alternatively, maybe Apple can stave off the upcoming Android camera invasion by partnering with Canon or other makers to provide a hardware development kit that would tie into an iPod touch or iPhone for the user-interface. Imagine automatically uploading pictures from anywhere and using the power of apps to edit and manipulate while on the go. That dream may arrive first in Android format:

NikonRumors just posted leaked press shots of the Android-based Coolpix “s800c” camera, and it begs the question: Would Apple ever build an iOS-powered, point-and-shoot camera?

The leaked s800c pictures reveal a touchscreen menu on the backside, apparently running a Gingerbread flavor, with apps for a camera, email, browser, music, etc. Additional specs labeled on the front of the camera detail a “12X Wide Optical Zoom ED VR” in HD and a 4.5-54.0mm stock lens. NikonRumors, which has a decent track record in scooping Nikon, first discovered the s800c in a filling with the Indonesian Communication Agency. It originally noted the camera would tout a 3.5-inch OLED screen, Android 2.3 with Google Play apps, and built-in GPS and Wi-Fi.

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Daring Fireball’s John Gruber added his two cents and indicated Nikon might be going down the right path with its s800c:

Think about Instagram on this. Or Dropbox. Or something like iPhoto for making adjustments. The digital camera need not be a computer peripheral — it could be its own standalone device. Snap photos, tweak them using apps on the camera itself, and upload them to Dropbox or Flickr or whatever for long-term storage.

Polaroid also ditched its standard user-interface earlier this year at CES 2012 in favor of an Android powered, high-end digital camera called the “Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera.” The upcoming 16-megapixel camera features 3X optical zoom, 36-108mm lens, built-in Wi-Fi, up to 32GB through microSD, and a 3.2-inch display. It also includes Google Play access, and Polaroid is promising a 24-hour battery on a full charge.

Samsung, which has a thriving camera business, is also reportedly working on a Galaxy Camera that could merge its camera and mobile lines.

Nikon, Polaroid and Samsung have not announced pricing schemes for their high-end, Android-based offerings, but it is clear that leading camera manufacturers are slowly adopting mobile technology now that more and more consumers are replacing conventional cameras with their smartphones. Apple has focused on photography since Day One, in regards to the iPhone, so it remains to be seen if the company will ever need to create another product for capturing high-quality stills and video.