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Henning continued, “Because we carry our cell phones with us wherever we go . . . you have a camera with you whenever a picture-taking moment comes up. The thought ‘I wish I had my camera’ becomes the action, ‘Look what I saw.’ Because tens of millions of
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people now have cameras with them virtually all the time, there is an explosion in the number of pictures taken. We expect that over 70 billion images will be taken using camera phones in 2005. Early studies indicate that camera-phone users take more than twice as many pictures as digital or analog [film] camera users, and completely new uses are emerging, too. For example, here is an interesting way in which women use camera phones in Russia: When they are in a store buying new clothes, they want to make really sure that they’re making the right purchase, because they don’t have the kinds of return privileges that we have in the United States. So they go into the dressing rooms, try something on, take a picture with their camera phone, send it to the camera phones of their friends, their mother, their whole peer review group, and get back opinions in real time, before they actually make the purchase.
“The impact of camera phones on digital imaging in general is profound. In 2005 there will be roughly 375 million digital cameras sold worldwide; more than three quarters of them will be embedded in mobile phones. Sales of camera phones have more than doubled every year since their introduction in Japan in November 2000. From fewer than a million in 2000, there were over 180 million sold in 2004, and we project that at least 300 million will be sold in 2005— and 450 million in 2007. By 2006, we project that there will be 60 million camera phones in the United States. Going from essentially a gadget fad confined entirely to Japan in 2001 to the most popular picture-taking device around the world in five years is an unprecedented technology adoption record,” Henning concluded.
Insights from the Mobile Imaging Summit
In November of 2004, Future Image held the most recent in its series of Mobile Imaging Summit conferences, which gather senior executives from the imaging, telecommunication, and computer
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Capture device pie: 2005. Source: Future Image Mobile Imaging Report
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industries together to brainstorm about the future of mobile imaging—the best possible place to gather insights into the latest thinking on the topic by industry insiders.
“This is potentially the biggest revolution since George Eastman started to think about imaging,” according to T. Andrew Wilson, Kodak’s director of worldwide strategy and business development. “This is such a unique point in time . . . it’s not about the device anymore. When the application was only voice, it was about the device and the infrastructure. Now it’s about the ecosystem far beyond those. The mobile imaging environment is the embodiment of the ‘my pictures anytime, anywhere’ vision. It’s not about technology anymore, it’s about how we define the system to be useful to people. These are the personal devices of multiple people within a household, or within an enterprise, who are always connected to the people and information that is important to them. If we can make the camera phone a primary camera, an imaging system, think in terms of people creating a trillion images a year. Roughly, there are 2 billion imaging devices out there right now creating something a little over 100 billion images. We know that in a few years there will be an installed base of a billion very capable camera phones, which should easily get us into an order of magnitude of a trillion images.”
The reality of planning for and building an infrastructure to handle this explosion in image creation prompted IBM’s global vice president of digital media, Gail Whipple, to identify a major area of focus going forward, “A trillion images represents a real challenge. What are you going to upload them to? Where are you going to store them? How are you going to wrap metadata or other indexing around them so that you can retrieve them later? How are you going to sort them and subcategorize them? We are going to require interoperability and a set of standards so that you can go from any device to any device, regardless of form factor, whether it is wireless or wired, whether it’s a computer or a PDA or a camera phone, wherever you have a set of
images that are going to travel over some transport, across a network. All these different devices have different form factors, and they all have different requirements in terms of being able to share.”
Pierre Barbeau, general manager of Sprint’s Picture Mail service, expanded on the notion of the ecosystem and the camera phone as a primary camera: “The planned migration for the camera phone in the next year or two is a change in behavior and expectation on the part of the consumer, such that they will take a camera phone with them when they plan to take pictures, whereas today they would grab a more traditional camera. The opportunity is to create an ecosystem around the device that will satisfy consumers regardless of whether they are at home, near a PC, or on the road traveling, and really give them the flexibility to choose how they want to use the device.” Barbeau then added some other elements to the mobile imaging mix, “We have introduced handsets that are capable of playing broadcast-like video and other TV-like functions to the handset. As network speeds increase, processing on the handsets improves, and displays get better, you can expect more of that broadcast-like video display functionality on the handset.”