Our resident rantist returns again this Wednesday with more insightful observations on the BlackBerry world. This week, Thought’ll let you know why camera phones matter (and we’ll point your way to one that just isn’t necessary). Keep Thought’s head up and let him know what you think about this week’s article. Thanks, Thought. – SSP
The introduction of the BlackBerry Pearl and the rumors of other BlackBerry models with cameras have reignited the debate over whether a camera on a phone is a good idea. My intention is not to argue an individual preference; suffice it to say that the market is large enough to accommodate both types of users.
Rather, the focus of this article is to explore why cameras on mobile phones are so popular and the significance of that in the market place and the culture.
First, letâ€™s take a little perspective on how popular camera phones are. The camera phone is now 85% of the mobile market. No manufacturer can effectively compete in this market without offering camera phones.
Not only are camera phones the most popular type of mobile phone, but they are also the most popular type of camera. In 2005 there were around 600 million digital cameras sold, and approximately 500 million of those were camera phones. By far and away, more pictures are snapped with a camera phone than with a traditional digital or film camera. As Mobile Imaging Report comments, the pathway of the camera phone from gadget fad to the most popular picture taking device in the world in 6 short years â€œcontinues to be unprecedented and quite remarkable.â€ It is no wonder why Kodak is linking their future to getting their technology inside of camera phones.
Those who criticize camera phones often point out that the quality of imaging on these devices is much less than on a stand alone digital camera. While that is correct, I believe that misses the point. There are 2 main reasons why camera phones are popular, and these reasons are at the heart of what mobile technology is all about:
1) Convenience. The best camera is the one that you actually have with you when you want to take a picture. There is no doubt that most people have their cell phones with them far more often than their digital cameras. In fact, most people carry their cell phones the same way they almost always wear a watch. Having a camera integrated into the cell phone allows users to have the convenience of having a camera available at almost anytime.
2) Connectivity. This is the most significant factor. Human beings love to interact and share; relationships are a key part of life. What makes the camera phone so powerful is that not only can we take pictures, but that we can easily and immediately share these images with others. Rick Smolan, author and creator of the best-selling photography books in history, including the Day in the Life and America 24/7 books, makes a rather dramatic prediction: â€œThe ability to shoot and then instantly share images is going to dramatically change the way humanity sees itself and how each of us tells our own stories.â€
The Bottom Line. RIM is wise to begin to incorporate â€œcameraberryâ€™sâ€ into their product lineup; to ignore the cultural and market dynamics would be utterly foolish. Any technology that connects people with each other, that is highly visual, that is easy to use and that is mobile, is bound to have impact. Informa, a telecom and media research and consulting company, sums it up best: â€œCamera phones are revolutionary. Wireless imaging is changing consumer interactions, business processes and social behavior.â€