theQ Camera – A Social Camera

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Sep 19, 2013

theQ camera caught my eye when it was launched in August. It caught my eye because it is a connected camera using a SIM card. It also caught my eye because theQ enters a camera market that is in free fall and where established vendors like Fujifilm and Olympus are making fundamental changes to their consumer imaging business. Yesterday Businessweek published a story about the challenges that Canon and Nikon are facing in the adversity of improving smartphone cameras. I think the best way to describe the digital camera market in 2013 is as extremely challenging.

Steven Christensen, CEO of QLifestyle, took time to brief me on theQ camera and their plans. The focus of Q Lifestyle is on photography related products and services.

theQ is a 5 MP still camera (no video) that has 2 GB of internal memory, a SIM card slot, a ring flash, a 2.7-inch LCD display, as well as a viewfinder and manual focus. theQ is waterproof up to 1m, dustproof, and has 9 built in filters. There are 5 buttons that run along the top of the camera, each with a dedicated function: share, save, shutter with flash, shutter without flash, and a sliding on-off switch. theQ, along with the Samsung Galaxy camera, is the only other camera currently on the market which has 3G/4G connectivity and, thereby, offers any place/any time instant sharing. Future versions of theQ will have built in Wi-Fi. The camera will be available in nine different colors.

 theQ LAB is the cloud based storage platform for photos taken with theQ. It offers free and unlimited storage and will work with apps for iOS and Android and in the future Windows. theQ LAB enables storage and management of images as well as configuration of the camera.

theQ is available to pre-order online at $199 and will start shipping on September 30th in the U.S. and Europe. Getting the price right will be critical for the camera to appeal to its target audience. By adding the cost of a data plan to the price of the camera, it is likely that there needs to be flexibility in the camera price in the same way that mobile phones are subsidized.

The primary target audience of theQ is 18-25 year olds who can be described as “young in mind and at heart.” theQ is positioned to compete against point & shoot cameras and to be a complementary product to smartphones. The benefit of theQ over most smartphones is that it has better low light performance and it has a ring flash, which will be superior to flashes found in smartphones. The single greatest advantage of theQ over most point & shoot cameras is that it is connected. For the target audience, the messages focusing on simplicity and fun will likely resonate strongly, too.

Even in a declining digital camera market, there are niche technologies that show growth and where there will be space and opportunities for new products. The connected camera niche is a growth area; however it is a small part of the market. What counts for theQ camera is its clearly defined its target market, a product that is strong on style and has a clear message, which should resonate with its audience. While the camera has room to improve (no Wi-Fi and no video capture are issues), it remains an impressive combination of hardware, software, and marketing solutions that a small start-up has put together in a short space of time. For theQ to succeed in what is undoubtedly an extremely challenging environment, the company must execute well on its go-to-market strategy.

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