in Innovation, Mobile Phones

Camera Phones vs. Cameras

I always read Michael Gartenberg blog with great interest and I find myself agreeing on his views most of the times.

In his last take (that you can read by clicking on this link) Michael makes a comparison between a high end camera phone (Nokia N95) and a DSL camera (Canon DS800).

As you can expect there is no competition at all from a technical standpoint:

  • Startup and shutter lag are much higher on the Nokia n95. This does not sound strange, at the end of the day the Nokia N95 still have to perform his duty of phone while the user takes a picture.
  • Flash is better on the DSL camera.
  • Lens and Zoom are superior in the DSL camera.
  • Image stabilization and face detection are available only on the DSL camera.

So it seems that the DSL camera is the clear winner of this competition.

This is a test that I would have liked to do by myself, but I think that Michael got the same results I would expect from such a test.

Given this it seems that dedicated devices will always be better that multi-purpose device. A DSL camera will always be be better that the best camera phone available on the market. Almost true.

I think that it will also depend on what use the customer will make of his pictures and how much for him the “time to friends” is critical. If you want to point, shoot and send the camera phone will be the winner.

I think that technology is ready for a new range of devices. Why can’t a DLS camera be a phone or, at least, offer some features of the phone like data connection to upload and share your images?

If we look at what technology has to offer we have two options available:

  • Integrate a phone module in the DSL camera.
  • Let the camera communicate with your phone to use it as a modem. (Bluetooth here seems to be the most viable solution today)

The first option will be much more expensive than the second one, also requiring some more effort into regulatory stuff. (e.g. in Italy every mobile communication device has to be registered to a very well identified customer. In this case it cannot be an off the shelf product).

Technology mash-up is the next big thing. Nowadays phone module are small enough to be integrated in almost every consumer electronic product available on the market with a price still quite high but with a clear trend to lower in the future.

Manufacturer should try to start thinking about this kind of hybrid devices. They will have a market for sure.

On the other side mobile operator should start to think at dedicated data plans for these kind of devices. We do not want to have multiple subscriptions for every device we own. As customers we may want to have data enabled only copies of our SIMs to be placed in the hybrid device sharing the same plan we are using on our mobile phone.

Convergence in some way is not only in technology but also in the area that brings your device to live.

Who will coordinate this kind of effort is a good question to ask.

Why do I blog this? I think that contamination of consumer electronics devices with mobile is the next thing we should look at very closely.