Cameras Get Smart – Nikon goes Android

Carrie Sylvester
Aug 24, 2012

Nikon COOLPIX S800c

Smart, meet camera. Camera, meet…Android, apps, connectivity, Facebook, GPS, Instagram-like in-camera editing…also known as The Future. The new Nikon Coolpix S800c says to the smartphone “Anything your camera can do, mine can do better.”

What is it?

The Coolpix S800c is Nikon’s first “Smart Camera” to combine its camera imaging expertise with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), Google’s mobile platform. This is not the first smart camera to be announced this year. At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, Polaroid announced the SC1630 smart camera, a 16 MP Android-based camera. However, the camera has not launched yet, and it is questionable whether it will ever make it to market.

The S800c is a 16 MP point and shoot model with a 10x optical zoom, Wi-Fi connectivity, built-in GPS and can shoot full HD 1080p video. The 10x optical zoom on this camera is far superior to any zoom capability on a smartphone on the market today. The camera does not have cellular capability, although technically the camera could connect to a phone via the Wi-Fi connectivity. Using the Android operating system (OS) gives this camera access to the Google Play store where users can download image editing, social network or entertainment apps, which is what really makes this a “smart” camera.

The S800c will be available in September and will come in colors of Black or White for a price of $349.95.

InfoTrends Opinion

Nikon’s announcement marks an important day for digital photography because it demonstrates that the traditional “old school” camera market is beginning to see the light — if you are going to compete with smartphones you need to GET SMART.

The Coolpix S800c will give photographers the image quality they expect from a company like Nikon and they will be able to enjoy immediate photo sharing to social networks like Facebook or Twitter and add Instagram-like filters using editing apps directly on the camera, all for $350. This is good news for photo active consumers that are used to lower-quality camera phone images.

The camera specifications for the S800c are competitive with “dumb” cameras offered today. How quickly consumers adopt the “smart” version will depend heavily on the user experience, we believe. The S800c should not reinvent the user experience, but mirror what users are already used to with their smartphones and tablets. This will make uploading and sharing of photos and videos a simple process.

A downside to the S800c is for it to truly compete with smartphones the device needs to be with you at all times, and not having voice capability will keep it predominantly in the camera category. An ideal mobile camera would be one that could be used for taking photos, making phone calls and texting.

If we had a wish list for future smart cameras, it would include Android’s Jellybean OS, or at the very least Ice Cream Sandwich, which is said to be more stable and fixes bugs that exist in older versions. Looking forward, maybe a smart camera that runs on the Windows OS that can easily integrate into consumers’ PC-based lives would be a better OS than Android, which is not and has no plans to be a desktop or laptop operating system. This would provide a much needed boost to the Windows mobile system which is currently in the early stages of adoption.

If you want to learn more about InfoTrends outlook for connected cameras, please see the 2012 North American Digital Camera Forecast.

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