The Mobile Camera and Photo Ecosystem

Sponsored Story · November 20, 2014 · Short URL:

Startups and businesses emerged over a decade ago to "solve" the problem of photos

Cameraphones, in many ways, should be old news. They were the hype trend of 2000, predating smartphones by years. Many startups and businesses emerged over a decade ago to "solve" the problem of photos captured and locked in the user's phone (though few of those saw big success prior to the app era.) If cameraphones and picture-sync apps followed any traditional hype curve, they would be ancient history by now. Yesterday's news. But that's not what's happening. Instead, there has been a steady, non-stop stream of new startups, value creation, exits, consumer adoption, and trends -- all iterating in some new way on cameras or photos.

Consider this history:

- Shozu

- BitPim

- Kyte

- Bump

- Resco Photo Manager

- Photobucket

- Instagram

- Snapchat

Mobile photos are also a dominant content element of Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Viber, Line, Wechat, Groupme and other messaging services. What's shocking about the history is that, instead of decreasing value of photo entities as they become old news, we've seen the exact opposite. Photos and photo apps just keep increasing in importance, and the exit prices confirm it. We find this paradox particularly interesting, and worthy of the coming discussion at the Telecom Council

It seems that there are a bunch of supporting factors at play, all working together to increase the impact of photo solutions. These include the advent of social networks, faster wireless data speeds, unlimited data plans, better smartphone cameras, image filtering, messaging, cloud hosting, and the simple fact of increasing smartphone penetration. Put those factors together, and you can see the huge wave that the camera in your phone is surfing. Will the trend continue? Well, let's not forget the potential of future trends in Augmented Reality, image search, light field imaging (Lytro), and wearables. If you're placing bets, don't bet against the camera/images sector.

Meanwhile, the hardware itself is also undergoing rapid advancement. The quality of the hardware is a key differentiator, or even table stakes, in the smartphone sector. More megapixels, better lenses, variable-focus, faster pics, better post processing, flash lighting, f-stop, sensor size, and lens and shutter release placement are constantly reviewed on blogs, and considered carefully by phone buyers. By 2008, Nokia was the #1 camera maker worldwide, and today smartphones are starting to attack SLRs! Phone OEMs are also adding in custom-enhancement software such as filters, time-lapse, panoramic, smile-capture, best pic, and other software enhancements to their images. On the video side, 4K video is now cutting edge, and high-frame rates too. Camera OEMs are bundling in other uses for the camera as a sensor, such as device security, dead-reckoning motion sensing, light sensing, eye-attentiveness, etc. Suffice to say that the camera/photos space is hot, hot, hot, in terms of hardware, firmware, apps, services, and social networking.



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