The camera market is evolving rapidly. At the heart of these changing dynamics is the phenomenally popular camera phone, a gadget that’s come a long way from its humble, tiny, grainy image file beginnings.
These cameras can now take pictures of up to 12 megapixels, and today the phones that house them can do more than just take pictures: the latest smartphone can simulate the entire photographic process, offering image editing, red eye removal, focus, zoom and several other photo-dedicated features. Smartphones – and the camera phones they contain – have gotten so popular that today, the world’s largest digital camera manufacturer is not Fuji, Nikon, Canon or any household photographic name; it is Nokia, manufacturer of around 106 million smartphones a year.
This has affected consumer behavior as well. The iPhone’s status as the most-used camera on Flickr reflects the importance users now place on accessibility, ease of use, integration and instant sharing. We may still value high-end, large sensor image quality, but to many of us the camera phone has become the primary means for taking every day pictures. This is not to suggest you shoot your next commission on your camera phone. But the rules of the game are changing, even for professionals.
The parties that are hurting the most from this transition are the manufacturers of low-end compact cameras, whose market share continues to decline. These manufacturers have some catching up to do, and in my next post I will look at one model designed with Apple’s intuitive simplicity in mind.