Someone asked me how the camera companies could survive in the cell phone era. Here's how:
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- Apple oddly enough was making a digital camera very early on in the late 1990s though it was not the consumer success they expected. As soon as the iPhone 4S came out, we could see an acknowledgement of how people use their smartphone cameras; Flickr is sort of the proof of that, since the iPhone dominates on uploads. Most people are quite casual about capturing images, and convenience trumps quality improvements, especially when very few smartphone images get printed or viewed larger than screen size on a computer. If a quality camera built into a smartphone is a perceived need, then that new Nokia should sell in big volume.
Nikon, in my opinion, went towards CX due to a simple perception amongst non-enthusiasts who wanted more from photography. The very simple concept is that if you can change the lens, then there is a perceived higher quality to the camera. Same thing going towards a (partial) metal body, which is perceived in a simple way to be higher quality than an all plastic body. I can see this when I show my V1 to someone who is not a photo-enthusiast, because the things that impress them are the solid feel and the interchangeable lenses. The other comment I here about is design, but in a way the Nikon 1 attempts to follow what Nikon thinks is Apple design language.Mar 15, 2012
- IIRC, Apple made two digital cameras, and one was basically a rebranded Fuji camera. The other, I think, was built by Kodak. I was in grad school at the time and borrowed one, and shot a few pix. Unfortunately, Apple used a custom JPEG codec, and, years later, when I stumbled across the 8 pictures I'd shot (my nieces when they were 4 and 1 respectively) I couldn't open them with any tools that I could find. Ultimately, I got lucky, and a crazy friend of mine who had a couple of Franken-Macs, was still running OS8 in 2005 and he could open them, with a copy of the codec that I found online. There's a lesson in that story about proprietary software...Mar 16, 2012
- The Apple cameras were the QuickTake 100, 150 and 200. The form factor of the first two was very similar to a Kodak digital of the time. The QuickTake 200 was more upright in design, with a grip, though didn't look much like other cameras of the time. Apple was using frog design for some of their projects then, though I'm not sure if these were in-house or frog design. The old format was called QuickTake, though you had a choice of shooting JPEG or TIFF for the 640 by 480 images.
I think the bigger question beyond design, is how much do people want to carry. Women have a purse they can slip a phone into, and probably a little more room, while men will look at pocket convenience. However, if you have to put it together that might limit the market.
The other similar camera attachment of the past was the HandSpring EyeModule (two versions). Fairly easy to use, and on a very popular PalmPilot derived platform. Sales were fairly dismal and these are quite rare now.
Nikon or Canon might have the name to pull it off, but I think they would do better licensing lens designs and branding on smartphones, rather than making attachments. Nokia is trying this with Zeiss design optics, so we shall see how that works.Mar 16, 2012
- Ahh..yes, I just looked at Wikipedia. I must have been using a QuickTake 100, and my pictures were Quicktake PICT files, which needed a QuickTake driver to display. Wiki says that DCRAW can read them, but that doesn't appear to be trueMar 16, 2012
- It would be nice to see a camera company design in collaboration with a cell phone company. I think Nikon could do a lot with a lens, sensor+electronics, and software package - to get the most out of a cell phone camera. NEF from my next cell phone could be a pleasant surprise. In my opinion it would be a great way to break into a new market that is thriving, and get some brand name recognition from stamping your logo right next to that lens. Right now, all the traditional camera companies seem to enjoy just sitting back and watching other companies help people make photos.Mar 18, 2012
- I'd be a little worried about "too many cooks." We already have OS makers and phone makers and carriers making decisions about product. Now add a camera company. The reason why the iPhone is what it turned out to be is because one company managed to roll with pretty much all the decisions. It's clean and lean in design because of that. Next best in the market is Windows Phone, where Microsoft has learned something from Apple and is trying to be the primary decisionmaker, even on hardware things. Worst is Google Android, exactly where we see some camera makers fiddling. Why? Because there's no strong control of decisions by the OS maker. So you end up with Google making OS decisions that benefit them, the hardware maker making decisions that make sense to them, the camera maker adding more decisions, and the carrier saying "no, we don't want another one of those, change this and that and this so that it's unique." And you get Phonezilla.Mar 18, 2012