COLOGNE, Germany--Camera makers must wake up to the competitive threat of mobile phones by embracing networking technology or face unpleasant consequences as photography habits shift profoundly.
That was the warning from Ed Lee, an InfoTrends analyst speaking to a photo industry audience at this week's Photokina imaging show here. Change has been unceasing in recent years, with the arrival of digital photography paving the way for electronics manufacturers to join traditional camera companies. Now, camera makers face new disruption.
"The digital camera vendors need to be much more aggressive about getting their cameras connected," Lee said. "Otherwise, I can see a world where the mobile phone will be king and the digital camera will be relegated to just taking pictures. I don't think that's a world the camera vendors want to see happen."
Fundamentally, mobile phones and social networking sites such as Facebook have transformed the practice and purpose of photography so it's less about preserving memories and more about sharing what's happening.
"Smartphones allow people to capture an image and share it with an online site or a social network. You're allowing your friends and family to be in the moment with you as the event is still going on," Lee said.
Indeed, smartphones are advancing rapidly. Apple's iPhone, a standout product when it comes to Internet connectivity, rapidly ascended the Flickr ranks of most-used cameras because it makes sharing images easy. With Android and other operating systems, such smartphones are spreading rapidly. At the same time, their cameras' quality is steadily improving with higher resolution, built-in flashes, and in the case of the iPhone 4, a new HDR mode for high-dynamic range shots. … Read more