Mobile Winds of Change

Mobile Winds of Change


It's getting really interesting out there in picture-taking America. Apparently we're capturing images and shooting video at an amazing rate. According to researchers for Tabblo, almost 13 perccent of consumers reported last year that they have over 10,000 digital images saved. By end of 2010 that number could reach at least 20 percent, Tabblo believes.

While steady growth over the years in the digital camera market is responsible for the bulk of those numbers, the mobile imaging market is weighing in now as well. Almost gone are the crummy one-megapixel cameras in many cell phones, replaced today by 3 to 5 MP along with flash, zooms and some very legitimate lenses. Add the multitude of imaging apps consumers are downloading daily and the camera phone market has a very intriguing future.

Parks Associates sees the mobile imaging market expanding beyond photo-sharing services to personalized content management and social networking applications. In fact, the research firm sees the mobile imaging application market exceeding $500 million by 2013. Keep in mind it was at approximately $60 million just last year.

The other part of this equation that we've been looking at on the pages of this publication for a while now is the handset as a shopping tool—for instant comparison shopping, receiving mobile coupons and even actually making a purchase.

All this is not to say the point-and-shoot digicam market isn't going to remain relevant—it will. What we feel is important to note is that you've got those people—you have their attention. You've developed a very close relationship with the camera-wielding public for many years now.

However, this mobile imaging crowd is a different animal. When the first camera phones came out, they were largely ignored in most imaging circles, and with good reason. They took crummy pictures and most consumers weren't even that comfortable using them.

InfoTrends reported back in 2007 that approximately 13 percent of camera phone owners considered the device their primary image capture device. We've seen recent reports that are claiming it's up over 20 perccent today. While it's clear the camphone still has a way to go on the imaging front, it absolutely is just about everyone's primary communication device. The mobile Web, for instance, is transforming consumer behavior yet again.

The notion that images captured by a camera phone were “stranded” is starting to look very 2007. As service providers build out their networks and unlimited data plans become more pervasive, this situation will change even more rapidly. With a click of a button, consumers will be able to send their stills and videos to their entire social network.

The line between the mobile and fixed platforms is starting to disappear and consumers are demanding this be the case.

If there isn't a mobile arm to your current retail strategy, simply stated, you'll be running your business with one of those arms tied behind your back.

Michael McEnaney