What’s Next After Connected Cameras

Ed Lee
Jul 3, 2013

Digital camera vendors are finally adding Wi-Fi technology to still cameras in meaningful quantities, and InfoTrends believes that connectivity is finally here to stay. As a proof point, in the first half of 2013, one-third of new cameras announced offer Wi-Fi connectivity as a feature. This is an increase from less than 15% in 2012. More choices will lead to more sales of Wi-Fi enabled cameras.

Samsung has been the most aggressive with connecting its cameras. As of early July, it has introduced ten Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, following last year’s introduction of nine models. Almost all the other major vendors have introduced a number of Wi-Fi enabled cameras this year as well. With Canon and Panasonic introducing five models, Nikon four models, and the rest three models each. Noticeably absent from the list is Pentax/Ricoh.

 

It is worth noting that embedded Wi-Fi technology is not the only available solution. Eye-Fi’s new Mobi Wi-Fi SD memory card simplifies the process of instantly transferring photos from your camera to a smartphone or tablet. Insert the card into the camera,download the Eye-Fi app to your smartphone, pair the two devices and photos captured on the camera are sent to the phone automatically. Unlike the original Eye-Fi card, Mobi does not connect to wireless hotspots, which for some consumers removes a level of complication.

With the technical challenges of wireless connectivity addressed, the next hurdle for camera vendors involves user interface and user experience. Simple and easy-to-use will be key attributes for mainstream consumer adoption. A convenient, intuitive workflow may reinvigorate replacement camera sales and get consumers back into the buying cycle, while also fighting off the encroachment of smartphones.

Intelligent Photography

Currently, Wi-Fi connectivity in cameras is most often used to transfer images to a mobile device or computer and, for some, as a remote viewfinder and shutter release when used with the vendor’s smartphone app. These are the most obvious applications.

InfoTrends would like to see camera vendors take connectivity one step further, where communication is a two-way street and consumers can use the camera itself to determine where the images go. However, this will require more than just connectivity in the camera, and may be best left for smart cameras. Smart cameras will open up new opportunities and help draw the capture market into the Intelligent Photography phase, where metadata and analysis of the information in the photos will be used in the post capture process to intelligently direct “smart” devices and services what to do with captured photos. Read more in Capture-enabled Devices: A New Market Segmentation Insight report (DPT client login required).

Hopefully, we will see more smart cameras introduced this year. Meanwhile Samsung is raising the stakes in the smartphone market and has introduced a photo-centric smartphone, the Galaxy S4 Zoom, which is a fully featured smartphone, with a 10x optical zoom lens, similar in size to a compact camera. If camera vendors do not respond with smart cameras, the smartphone market will continue to dominate the fast capture, fast sharing experience.

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