[Camera phone] Memories….like the corners of my mind…

Carrie Sylvester
Apr 2, 2015

Yesterday was first day of April, April Fool’s Day on the calendar, I was reminded that it is also my twelfth year with InfoTrends. In 12 years watching the photography and mobile imaging markets has turned me into a mobile imaging enthusiast. To celebrate my 12 year journey I decided to take a walk down my camera phone memory lane.

B.C. (Before camera phone)

In 2003, people had not even thought of a camera phone. Many people had already had their first car phone by the early 2000s most of those would hardly be categorized as “mobile”phones really they were either hardwired into your car or were luggable “bag phones”. By the time InfoTrends (CAP Ventures back then) became my “new” place of employment in 2003 I was happily using a palm-sized mobile phone (pretty sure my first two mobile phones came from Nokia) that was great for voice calls and you could text fairly well as you became adept at finding letters through your number pad but it did not have a camera on board, hard to believe that could ever be the case these days.

2004 – The cameraless phone became a thing of the past, for me at least, when the Motorola Razr came into my excited hands with its whopping VGA camera. My first mobile photo taken was of my kids and getting them to pose for a phone seemed quite foreign to them. NOT the case these days, where these grown teens are more comfortable in front of a camera phone (usually taking selfies) than in front of a traditional camera lens.

2007 – Apple gives birth to the smartphone revolution by introducing the first iPhone to the anxiously awaiting Apple fans. The iPhone had a 2 MP camera on it which really was the first camera phone that seemed to bite people with the photography bug. Although I am not an Apple user, most of my friends and colleagues are, and one cannot overlook the iPhone’s impact on smartphone technology and even more importantly changed photography as we knew it. For this story, although Apple played a huge role in changing the mobile industry, it does not play a big role in this stroll down memory lane as I have never owned any flavor of iPhone.

2009 – In an attempt to “keep up” with my iPhone friends, I wanted to upgrade the less than impressive Razr camera with a higher resolution (aka “better”) camera. I quickly learned that higher resolution did not necessarily mean a better camera. I lamented about my “sheepish” behavior in an April blog of 2009 called – Camera Phone Photography: There’s More to a Good Photo than Megapixels!

2010-2011 – Google started to seriously impact the smartphone market around the time of the 2010 CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association) Convention, which was, and still is, one of the leading wireless industry tradeshows in the U.S. (See blog from March 2010 – CTIA 2010 – Android makes a splash on new smartphones. All-the-while Apple was keeping its public and Fan Boys happy introducing new iPhones, each iteration coming with a slightly better camera. The iPhone 4S came out with an 8MP – in October 2011 – blog published The iPhone 4S: A Cool Phone with a Sweet 8MP Camera.

2012-2013 – The dawn of ultra-high resolution (through MPs and algorithms) camera phones occurred in July of 2012 when Nokia introduced the PureView 808 with a 41 MP camera sensor. The phone combined a larger sized image sensor (1/1.2″), with Nokia-developed pixel over-sampling technology (aka Super Pixels), and a lens designed by Carl Zeiss to deliver crisp clear mobile photos. For a refresher on this phone feel free to visit the blog – The Nokia PureView 808 – Welcome Super Pixels! I got some time with an early version of Pureview 808 and was very happy with the camera experience, but was disappointed with the lack of an operating system and inability to download popular camera and editing apps.

Although the PureView 808 phone was NOT a smartphone it was the launching pad for Nokia’s next flagship, the Windows-based Lumia 1020 (The Nokia Lumia 1020 – who says a camera phone ISN’T a “real” camera?) smartphone introduced in July 2013. The 1020 was, and still is the Lumia brand’s flagship phone featuring a 41 MP sensor and the PureView technology. Nokia’s mobile phone division is now owned by Microsoft and goes under the Microsoft name but retains the Lumia brand. Although there is some speculation that Microsoft has plans to launch a new flagship phone around the same time as Windows 10 rolls-out (in Q3 or Q4 2015), the new Microsoft Lumia brand has introduced a number of camera phones since 2013 targeted at the lower-end, late adopter market. The Lumia brand seemed to be generating a good amount of interest and industry buzz with the 808 and 1020, but may have lost some of that momentum due to a 2 year hiatus between flagship phones. I did get time to play with this phone as an evaluation unit and it became my primary phone and I still happily use it for as my everyday camera when I don’t have my DSLR handy. Looking forward to the release of Windows 10 and hopefully the upgrade to the 1020.

2015 and beyond

The future of the camera phone market will certainly include today’s big players like Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft but what the next BIG thing to happen to mobile photography remains to be seen. Although the camera is not necessarily the only reason people are buying a new mobile phone, it is one of the features that falls into the top three purchase influencers and has become the everyday camera for most people. Mobile phone manufacturers must make sure that they have a good, better yet exceptional, camera on board but if they want to generate some buzz. Photography features and functions could be what sets one phone apart from the mass market phones.

I hope this trip down memory lane gets you to take a trip through your own phone/camera phone memories. Can you even remember (OR better yet find) your first camera phone picture? Feel free to Tweet out @cesylvester #InfoTrends #MobileMemories

To understand more about InfoTrends’ ongoing research in the Mobile Imaging industry contact Matt O’Keefe.

 

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