Camera Phones/Smartphones may Bolster Photo Print Market

David Haueter
May 23, 2012

There is concern in the photo industry that the migration from digital still cameras to camera phones/smartphones and their increased usage will lead to fewer photos being printed. The concern is valid, as camera phones/smartphones provide an easy on-ramp for photos to be sent to online sites, which could potentially take print completely out of the viewing and sharing process.

We believe that for the near term the opposite will be true; that increased camera phone/smartphone usage will actually lead to more prints being generated. The rationale behind our thinking is that as more people rely on their camera phones/smartphones as everyday cameras and even use them more for special events, that a growing percentage of these photos will be important photos that they will want to share, preserve, or display as prints.

InfoTrends Mobile Imaging studies bear this out. In 2010, 32% of mobile picture takers said they printed photos taken with their mobile devices, but they printed only 5% of these images. In 2012, the percentage of mobile picture takers who said they print broke the 50% threshold and the percentage of images taken that were printed more than doubled.

Calculating an average number of mobile photos printed per picture taken per month we arrive at 0.2 for 2010 and 1.1 for 2012. While still a relatively small number, it has grown significantly (5X) over the last two years.



The opportunity clearly exists for print vendors and retailers to educate and show consumers how to easily print the photos from their mobile phones. There is still a lot of confusion among consumers on how to actually print from these devices, but there is certainly a worthwhile level of interest from the market to invest the time into it. Cooperation between operating system and print vendors would also be an important step in making it easier for consumers to print photos from their mobile devices. Print options (local, online, or retail) should be also added to more apps, and enabling easy transfer (wireless or wired) of photos from mobile phones to photo kiosks will reduce one of the barriers to printing.

InfoTrends has reports available on the mobile imaging market that you may find interesting, with the 2012 Mobile Imaging End-User Survey to be published shortly:

2011 Mobile Imaging End-User Survey


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