Is The iPhone Camera Doomed?
I have no idea who came up with the idea of putting a camera on a phone. On paper it seems like such an incompatible and bad combination. Apple seem to agree. iPhone camera’s are always lacking from their rivals. My Nokia N95 from 2007 had a 5mp camera, when my 2010 iPhone 4’s camera is only 3mp. And the 4 is the first generation on iPhone to get a flash. So why don’t Apple seem to believe in the iPhone camera? I have a theory.
I love photographs, I love photography, the problem is that I am a particular poor photographer. I have a Canon 350D that I bought by accident a few years ago, which I can just about use as a point and shoot, mainly for family events. It’s only recently that I have discovered Instagram for the iphone on the app store. It’s easy to use, point, shoot, edit using a variety of simple filters, post. The success of the app is, firstly, the speed at which it works, the app opens in under a second. Secondly the meta data, such as the location is automatically uploaded to the Instagram site, limiting the fuss. Thirdly and most importantly, the retro, hipstermatic-like filters make the photo’s look great. There has also been a general rise in iPhone camera usage by both casual and amateur photographers alike.
So it looks pretty good for the iPhone and Apple so far; and there’s more. It was recently reported in TUAW that a wedding photographer Joshua Brown had photographed and edited a whole album from a trip to Italy using only Camera+ on his iPhone The results are amazingly impressive. Joshua actually took a Canon D5 DSLR with him on the trip but didn’t use it as he found the D5 too bulky an obtrusive to carry round.
It still looks good news for Apple; and theres even more good news. In the same week Techcrunch / reported that the iPhone is about to overtake the Nikon D90 as the most popular camera for posting to Flickr. It’s easy to see why,
So whats the problem? Answer: Google’s Android. It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination WiFi and 3g connectivity, capacitive touchscreens and realtime editing. If you want to adjust the white balance, is there a better way then taptaptap Camera +, method utilising the touchscreen? I don’t think so. Android is open source and free. In his Weekly Podcast The Talk Show, John Gruber connected the dots and predicted that the next generation of DSLR’s have a version of Android pre-installed with these features. If this is the case then, it doesn’t appear to bode well for future growth of the iPhone as a viable photography device.
I doubt that this is going to worry Apple. In the long run it’s not going to affect sales of the iPhone or any other Apple product. The chances of standalone Apple DSLR camera? Slim, the Cupertino company just doesn’t have the background in this area, after all all it’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch manufacturers are sourced from other manufacturers. What is will definitely happen is that the iPhone 5 (or 4S) will have better camera that the 4. Just how far they will go is a matter is really contentious. Rumours were circulating that Sony were to provide an 8Mp camera, but this although not improbable, seems unlikely, and anyway 12Mp is the current benchmark for phones and point & shoot camera’s.
Anyway, these are all predictions. Apple had a record of achieving the unpredictable, (the iPhone as the number 1 gaming device anyone?). So I guess we just have to wait and see what happens next.