May 15, 2013
Yesterday Nokia launched the Lumia 925 at a high profile event in London. The Lumia 925 joins a long line of venerable smartphones. The Lumia 925 features an 8.7MP camera and a 6 element lens. With this phone Nokia attempts to cement its position as the imaging leader in the smartphone market. Smartphones are mini computers that can be carried around at any time. Small, light and in most cases with cameras that are good enough for taking both every day and occasional special occasion photos. These are also the reasons why smartphones are taking the place of digital cameras as the camera used most often by consumers. InfoTrends’ European end user data clearly illustrates this trend.
Which camera do you use most often?
The trend for smartphones as the camera used most often will continue. The 2014 survey will likely show that a larger proportion of Europeans will use a smartphone than a P&S camera for taking photos most often.
Although smartphones are used most often by many people, people tend to take more photos when they use a digital camera. This is the go-to camera for special occasions. At special occasions we take lots of photos and these photos have high emotional value. It is also more likely that these images, as compared to phone photos, generate revenue in the form of prints and photo products. Digital cameras will probably never go away because they perform an important role in documenting our lives.
However, cameras will stay in drawers for longer between each time they are used. Consumers will take longer before they choose to replace their digital camera. Households will share a digital camera. There is an inherent risk in this scenario that some consumers will forget how to use their camera between each time they use it. The effort involved in relearning the complex digital camera workflow might lead some consumers to stop using their digital camera altogether.
The challenge for digital camera vendors is to keep digital cameras relevant, easy to use and to stress the high image quality of digital cameras. This will ensure that digital cameras rather than phones will continue to be used for capturing important memories.
Images for memory keeping and images for other purposes
Capturing images for memory keeping is only one part of the overall imaging market. The growing part of the imaging market is images that are captured for any other reason than memory keeping. Some examples are field based technicians needing to communicate with their office, remote education, a car monitoring what is around it, doctors sharing images from an operation they are performing, consumers taking images of products so that they can search for them online, images used for augmented reality and the list goes on.
Looking ahead, InfoTrends believes that the imaging market is dividing into two parts: photos that are taken for memory keeping and photos that are taken for all other reasons.
Devices will be suited to specific applications. Digital cameras are best suited for memory keeping. This is a stable part of the market and innovation is incremental and relatively slow. Devices that can be used for all other types of image capture are booming. Action cameras such as GoPro’s line of Hero cameras meet the needs of sports enthusiasts who need remote controlled cameras that capture high quality video. Heads up displays such as Google Glass, the Vuzix M-100 Smart Glasses and the promise of a new heads up display from Japanese start-up Telepathy connect to smartphones and enable instant transfer of images. In the future heads up displays may replace smartphones all together and we will all be able to enjoy voice activated photography.
Example of hands free photography with Google Glass
The opportunity for the imaging industry lies in the vast number of images that are being captured. There are more images to store, share, manage, and print. The greatest challenge for the future is to help consumers store and perhaps most importantly retrieve those images when they need them and where they need them. This is where the value in the imaging ecosystem will be generated.
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