Friday, December 2, 2005

Camera Phones

I had a disagreement with Russ Beattie and Jim Hughes a while back about camera-phones. It went something like this:

William: Camera phones are a solution looking for a problem. Camera phones are like sofa beds. They aren't very good beds or sofas. They just take up less space. I'd rather have a seperate camera, PDA, and phone; each optimized for their primary task. The other problem is security. Many companies are banning camera phones yet it's becoming impossible to buy a high-end phone without a camera! The carriers are going back to the OEMs and asking them to remove the cameras from some business oriented phones! My wife has a Treo 600 PDA/camera/phone. The phone has lousy reception, the camera takes lo-res pictures, and the PDA is slow with a tiny display. My T608 gets great reception. My iPAQ 1945 is fast with a beautiful display. My Canon SD110 is 3.2 Megapixel. I can take photos on my Cannon, drop the card in my iPAQ, and e-mail them through my bluetooth T608. All the devices are pocket sized and far better than any converged device I've seen.

Jim:... sure your phone, pda and camera are all pocket sized. But, that's three devices, three pockets. A smartphone with camera does all this (and more) whilst filling just one pocket.

The three step process to shuffle your pictures from device to device might be technically possible, but that's a pretty tedious process for a bunch of quick snaps.

William: A smartphone cannot do more than I can do with my separate camera, PDA, and phone. I believe it does significantly less. In particular it's not a very capable camera, PDA, or phone! Maybe it's "good enough" at those functions to satisfy most people. Maybe I'm just a "power user" that expects more. A bagel only takes up one pocket but I wouldn't use it to take pictures either.

It's not all that difficult to shuffle pictures from device to device. If my camera had Bluetooth then I would barely even realize the shuffling was taking place. The most tedious step right now is moving the memory card from the camera to the PDA. After that everything is pretty similar to sending photos from my Treo. In less than 20 seconds, I pick a recipient, add a note, attach the photo and hit "Send". With Bluetooth I don't even have to take my phone out of my pocket. Some custom PocketPC software could make it even quicker.

I believe connectivity (ala. Bluetooth) is far more valuable than convergence.

I decided to come back now and revisit the issue.