We had a Mobile Monday focused on photos this evening. The presentations were great, and I just wanted to get down some of the thoughts here. Both to share and so that I don’t forget them myself. Erik from Shutterfly led off the presentations, and put up some great info about camera phone vs. normal digital camera numbers. Standard digital cameras have hit a plateau in the US, they’re not being sold in ever greater numbers. However camera phones certainly are, and this year they’re set to pass the normal camera sales numbers here in the US. Interesting statistic. I think that the overall conclusion from an event like this would certainly be the right one, but that the numbers for camera phone sales need to be skewed. People “get a camera” with their phone as an instance of bundling, versus people who buy digital cameras who have purchased that single purpose device explicitly for that purpose. There is a certain percentage of phonecam users who don’t use the camera in their phone at all. So the trend is undenyable, but it does need to be pulled down a bit because there is a disparity in what’s being compared. Although the number of units shipped for phonecams crosses the digital camera line this year, I think the usage lines cross some time next year or perhaps even the year after.
Heather from Flickr was supposed to present, but was sick so Stuart presented instead. Stuart mentioned that the number of photos uploaded to Flickr from phonecams is right about at the 30% mark. There were some reasons given for that, like people with digital cams who take their camera out and snap 200 pics at an event and then dump them all online. And prices for data plans or uploads via MMS are still pretty steep. But for some reason I have this gut feeling that Flickr is actually a good proxy for camera usage overall. That would also support my theory that the usage lines cross some time 2006 or 2007. Stuart spoke in general about the transformation that’s happened in photography due to cameraphones. Photography has moved from something that a small group of people did at special events into something that everyone does as part of their everyday life. My overall takeaway from what he said was that photography in this environment has become pedestrian. The kinds of photos showing up on services like Flickr aren’t necessarily about art at all. They’re not trying to be art, they’re just a new part of the overall vocabulary of expression that we have available now for everyday use. Which of course some people would then argue is the only real purpose of art anyway, but lets not open that whole can of worms and just pretend that everyone can recontextualize that statement in a way that it makes some kind of sense.
I really need to go through the other three presentations. But that’ll have to wait till tomorrow, I need to get some sleep.