In this morning’s in-box was a news release that Samsung has an 8 megapixel camera/cell phone it is releasing to the market after showing it in Spain over the weekend. At this same event Sony-Erricson had a prototype camera/cell phone with 12.1 megapixels. This news immediately asks questions about the possible affects on the digital camera market, but more significantly is this going to further a trend we have already seen of major news events recorded by cell phone users on the scene at the time, and then broadcast around the world. How will this impact culture? Will Facebook and YouTube become even more significant to peoples lives?
At this stage it is not difficult to predict changes will occur because of the camera/cell phone development. But whether the digital camera P&S market will be negatively affected is anyone’s guess. And only imagination can foresee what impact this will have on culture. That it will, I have no doubt, and that the current pressures on media reporting that is already under a squeeze as paper-print newspapers continue to fold and disappear, may be a downside. The real question is what will take its place. Will professionalism in news photography diminish in the short-run seems likely. With any major change in the mode of communication the newest is always pretty amateurish with little artful value included in its content, if anyone recall the early days of TV. But what we have learned is that one new medium seldom replaces older media. The established media under threat of the new find a different niche in which they can survive and sometimes flourish. Sadly talk-radio will not go away.
Although this development may be just a curious interest to serious amateur photographers, I don’t think it will detract from what they do or the market they support. I would assume dSLR sales if anything may be encouraged by this cell-phone development, because the two are in terms of what they satisfy in individual needs are mutually exclusive. A photo enthusiast may buy a camera-cell phone but rarely if ever to replace a dSLR, but to have a camera handy and instead of buying a small, pocketable point-and-shoot to have available when having a big dSLR system along is not possible or convenient. On the other hand from what I have seen in photo-blogs published by youngsters, many reflect a native latent talent for creating pictures, and those interests may be encouraged by these new higher resolution cell-phones and could very well develop to graduate into becoming even more serious resulting in the adoption of a dSLR. For over a century now photography has been the visual folk art of the people. This development of cell-phone cameras just makes that ability of ordinary people to be visually expressive and creative even more democratic.
A concurrent possibility after the Stimulus bill is signed, is that there is a provision to expand public access to broadband. One proposal is to use the frequencies that are being released by the TV switch-over to all digital broadcasting that frees up a lot of band-width that can be used for cell-phones and WISP’s, or broadband computer connection services using wireless cell-phone frequencies. And eventuality, it could be that a camera-phone then might be able to download image files more directly to a home computer. That would surely be desirable if cell-phone cameras will be generating larger image files which is definitely going to be an issue as more and more camera-phones have as high a megapixel resolution as many dSLR cameras in use today.