Cult of Mac posted a piece that indicates that Apple has been researching adding to WiFi to iPod for over two years. Word is that the order came from Steve Jobs himself, so it's definitely a priority -- if true.
A WiFi iPod has one huge value-add: wireless syncing, a feature its never had.
It's embarrasing that the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad all have WiFi radios (some since 2007, mind you) and they still can't sync music and movies over the air. No sir, it's 2011 and you still have to sync your tunes via an expensive ($19!) and proprietary USB cable. I've been blogging (ahem, ranting) about it since 2007 and it's patently absurd.
The issue is that aluminum, although strong and green, isn't radio transparent. Because it's a metal (and thus conductive) WiFi performance is terrible in an aluminum sarcophagus. According to Cult, the best solution is a carbon fiber enclosure and Apple's reportedly researching the composite material in upcoming iPods.
According to Cult, the smoking gun is that Apple recently hired a composites engineer, but not just any composites engineer:
Apple has just hired a Senior Composites Engineer. Kevin Kenny began work at the Cupertino campus this month after spending 14 years building carbon fiber bicycles for Kestrel Bicycles, where he was the President and CEO.
Fanning the flames is the fact that Kenny is listed an the author of a patent for Reinforced Device Housing that Apple filed in 2009. Then Apple filed a patent application for Composite Laminates from Carbon Reinforced Resin in 2010.
Fast Company takes issue with the rumor, claiming the carbon fiber isn't radio transparent, noting that it's actually conductive according to the FAA Pilot's handbook of aeronautical knowledge. Fast Company also mentions that its high cost of construction and few color options casts further doubt on the carbon fiber rumors.
If it's not aluminum and not carbon fiber, the next iPod could be constructed of Liquidmetal, a technology that Apple acquired in August 2010.
The corporate website boasts that Liquidmetal “is a creator of a new metallic, glass, substance that stores energy much better than stainless steel or Titanium” and has “more than twice the strength of Titanium with the processability of plastics.”