Internet comment, 2005
The clickwheel is the sticking point. If Apple wants to make a larger-screen iPod without making the device itself larger, then there are two very simple choices. It could copy Archos, which moved from the iPod-shaped MMJB video player in 2002 (small screen, very annoying) to the current larger AV format (controls along the side). Or it could move the entire control interface to the reverse of the device, leaving one entire side for the clickwheel and controls, and perhaps a secondary small screen (but more cost).
Apple Patent Filing, 2007: Back-Side Interface for Hand-Held Devices
One of the surfaces (e.g., the bottom) includes a force-sensitive touch-surface through which a user provides input (e.g., cursor manipulation and control element selection). On a second surface (e.g., the top), a display element is used to present information appropriate to the device’s function (e.g., video information), one or more control elements and a cursor. The cursor is controlled through manipulation of the back-side touch-surface. The cursor identifies where on the back-side touch-surface the user’s finger has made contact.