Prints from cameraphones now account for 5 percent of the market and are a fast- increasing segment, according to Steuart Meers, Photo Direct.
‘It’s a niche category at the moment, but growing at a rate which can’t be ignored,’ he said. The five percent figure is based data from Lifepics online ordering software. Photo Direct is local distributor for LifePics.
Though there were some privacy issues around collecting demographic data, ‘anecdotally we see it as Gen Y, however I wouldn’t discount that what we previously considered the Yuppie is in the mix for convenience.’
He said that a lot more could be done by photo specialists to draw consumers’ attention to the fact that their stores were capable of making prints from mobile phones as well as cameras.
‘If we don’t, someone like JB will. It’s not going to make your fortune, but it’s now definitely in the mix and becoming more important all the time. We need to tell the consumer we can do it.
‘Have a big sign at the back of the store saying “we print from mobiles”. Every customer who comes into the store – tell them. Because they honestly don’t know,’ he said.
Mr Meers comments on the growing significance of smartphones is supported by a report in Don Franz’ Photo Imaging News (October 24) on a recent presentation in the US by social networking guru, Alexandra Gebhardt:
‘Worldwide cameraphone images have a much higher growth rate than those captured with digital cameras and, as more cameraphones ‘morph’ into smartphones, there are many more options for using saved images.’
If, as some predict, the smartphone becomes at least a partial replacement technology for compact cameras, retailer have even more incentive to establish themselves as service providers to the camphone snapshooter.
‘It’s really hard to predict whether the smarrtphone becomes tomorrow’s compact camera. But with 8-megapixel smartphones out there with flash and zoom, it is a lot more convenient to have one device always with you,’ he said.
‘I wouldn’t buy another compact, but would and have purchased something bigger – a Sony Nex 5 – so given my survey of one, I’d say compacts have a few years yet.’
(This is supported by a recent review in phone enthusiast website http://www.phonearena.com, which put some of the lasts smartphones up against a mid-range Canon compact. The conclusion was, ‘even the hottest smartphones out there are still pretty far from being as capable as dedicated point-and-shoots are. We can compromise to an extent of course, that’s why some of us are already willing to leave their cameras at home, but if we have to judge pure quality, it’s evident that cell phone manufacturers still have a long road ahead of them.‘)