Mobile Phone the ‘Everyday Camera’ in the U.S.

Carrie Sylvester
Mar 25, 2013

It was nearly two years ago when we heard Annie Liebovitz say that “the iPhone is the snapshot camera of today.” At the time I thought, “No way, Annie.” But being someone that regularly surveys consumers about their camera behaviors and future plans I wanted to see just how right (or wrong) she was. In 2011, we asked respondents of our annual Mobile Imaging web survey which camera they used most often to take pictures and learned that the digital camera was still the camera of choice, but just barely beating out mobile phones (feature & smartphones with built-in cameras). In the years that followed we approached the question a little differently and asked “Which device do you use most often to take photos for everyday use/occasions?”

The Survey Says….

Source: 2013 InfoTrends Mobile Imaging User Survey

The answer is good and bad news. The most popular camera for everyday photos was a mobile phone, growing from 59% in 2012 to 64% in 2013. This is good news for handset manufacturers and mobile photo app developers. The bad news is that digital cameras showed a decline in usage of 5%. There was a clear generational preference when looking at this question by age of respondent. Respondents who were 18-34 years old relied most heavily on mobile phones while the heaviest daily users of digital cameras came from the 35+ photographers.

So what…..?

Source: AP Photo

How do these survey results about the camera for everyday photos relate to the real world? One recent example this month was during the election of a new Pope for the Catholic Church. I saw a comparison of two photos: one taken in 2005 and the other in 2013. The extreme difference really made me stop and think about how impactful the mobile device has become in how we capture and share not only everyday memories but also important newsworthy events as well. There is no way for me to count which is a camera versus which is a phone in the 2013 photo. But it is obvious that in 2005 only one person was taking a photo with a camera phone. In 2013, we seem to have become a world of roving photojournalists.

Digital camera vendors wishing to remain relevant to consumers’ increasing photo taking habits MUST find a way to compete with cameras on our mobile phones. Cameras will need to have convenient sharing options to be used in more everyday situations.

We wanted to understand what might motivate people to use their camera more often for everyday photos. We asked Mobile photographers that owned both a digital camera and a mobile phone a follow up question to find out what would get them to use their digital camera more often than their mobile phone. The answer was clear that Wi-Fi and wireless transfer would be key motivators, but improved battery life and the ability to edit photos right on the camera might also get them to rely on a digital camera more often than the camera on their phone for everyday photos.

If you want to learn more about consumers’ mobile photo behaviors, there is an upcoming report titled 2013 InfoTrends Mobile Imaging End User Study. Please feel free to contact Matt O’Keefe with any questions.


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