Portalplayer has announced plans to launch PortalPlayer Photo Edition – an upgraded version of its chip/firmware combo that powers the iPod, perhaps paving the way for a Photo iPod.

Michael Maia, vice president of sales and marketing at PortalPlayer, told EE Times: "The software development kit lets a portable device launch an application when connected, while it does tricks like adding music to slide shows or managing photos by editing, rotating and cropping, and red-eye correction. It also makes it possible to synch slide shows, photos and music."

PortalPlayer CEO Gary Johnson added: "The platform makes it possible to build an entertainment device enabling you to carry with you all of your personal content."

Jupiter Research analyst Avi Greengart said: "As a standalone device, a personal digital photo album would appeal to only a limited audience. But personal music players are already a huge industry that's rapidly becoming digital with higher and higher storage densities, so adding photo functionality builds on that."

And it would appear that iPod fans would relish the capacity to be able to display photos on a colour screen. Following the release of the Belkin card reader for iPod In October, 21 per cent of Macworld readers voted that the next update to the iPod should be a colour screen.

PortalPlayer dominates the music jukebox market and claims that its chips and firmware drive 80 per cent of the systems on the market. According to EE Times, the PortalPlayer solution is used in models built by Alpine, Apple, Bang & Olufsen, Philips, RCA, Rio, Samsung and Yamaha.

The Photo Edition platform will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

The software package supports picture manipulation features like editing, rotating, cropping and red-eye correction. It can also allow users to add music to slide-shows. "All these features handily replicate functionality provided on the desktop by Apple's iPhoto", suggests The Register.