(news and commentary)
Every year, Kleiner Perkins analyst Mary Meeker presents a dense pack of slides with commentary. This year's package has a few "photography-related" bits that are worth noting:
- Over 500 million photos are shared a day on just Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Flickr, and that number is still growing rapidly. Know any conventional cameras that integrate well with those four services? Didn't think so. The camera makers are being completely "niched" by this. Sure, you can sit at your desktop and use the old convoluted traditional workflow to create something from your camera that you'll share, but...
- The average smartphone user accesses the camera 8 times a day. How many of you even touch your camera 8 times a day, let alone take ~3000 photos a year? How about compact camera users? Ah, there's the problem. The camera makers need to find something that compels you to purchase a lower end camera that you'll pick it up 8 times a day. Of course, that implies that you'll carry it every day, too ;~). And those smartphones are what are driving the sharing statistics on those four photo sharing services. Any camera company that thinks starting their own cloud service is the answer is delusional at this point, because they don't have enough user base (and never will) to catch up with all those smartphones being sold and the established leaders in sharing the results. After all, we've got 1.5 billion smartphones out there already, and there are 5 billion mobile phones total, so we have a long way until "all mobiles phones are smart phones."
- Can your camera take a picture of a barcode and do anything useful? Because the smartphones can. Imagine the scenic overlook at one of our great National Parks where there's a QR code on the sign that'll tell you a lot more about what you're looking at and why. Imagine if that could fill in the EXIF data for your image.
- Legacy hurts. I knew this already, but was struck by it again when I saw the "years since founding" numbers in Meeker's slides: Apple 37, Google 15, Facebook 9. Let's see, Canon 76, Nikon 96, Sony 67, Leica 100. It's difficult to keep reinventing oneself and refreshing the ideas while jettisoning all the detritus that builds up in long-running companies. The whole "software thing" is really new and fresh in terms of mobile computing photography, not so much with the legacy camera companies. And Japan already has a problem with letting people no longer needed go.