I have hunted around the blogo-sphere and have not really found anyone pealing back the onion on the macro trends of digital imagery. So here goes... sweeping commentary and a few links that may confirm the issues.
The single most important idea you need to agree to: once camera phones gets more than 2-3 mega pixels resolution they (will) take over the role of digital cameras for most applications and users. BUT, the argument goes camera phones still are in need of better a lens. Well that too is coming in the next year likely.
Interesting almost factoid - for a huge portion of the world, the first camera they ever will own will be integrated into their mobile phone.
Why is this important? Well for those just now getting involved with the industry of digital cameras and its total disruption of film and chemical photography, the camera phone is truly the disruptive technology that is killing analog cameras... other than disposables, and is poised to do the same to most forms of digital cameras as well. Hence the better lensed SLR designs that are going to be gift choices this season?
The big picture?
IMHO I think the group over at Future Imaging have pretty much nailed back in 2004 the unfolding macro/vision of what is really going on. The graph above is one of theirs and suggests two critical cross-overs.
The BIG DEAL first happened around mid-year 2003 when digital cameras on a units basis out sold film cameras - a non-Kodak moment as well! The other less well known event occurred when camera phones jumped over digital cameras but that went un-noticed as the images from the first camera phones really sucked - they still do in most cases. So what now? As we approach 2007, the Future Images group had the concept but missed the actual numbers by only 100 percent... Gosh it wasn't 350 million is was 800 camera phones!
The Lycra Research Group re-confirmed imagery industry disruption this past July when they published these next two graphs. They were a bit more forgiving in that their industry survey suggests that digital cameras only this past summer exceeded film cameras... (I guess that gave Kodak a bit more wiggle room?). But they too deliver the same message - camera phones simply will dominate.
Ok, now you are on to it. But the industry remains in turmoil. Back in 2004 I was able to watch Kodak joke and squirm with HP in that they too wished they could produce printer cartridges... a replacement for chemicals, films and special papers. So out came kiosks and "digital print centers" to get you and your memories on paper! NOT!!
So the last concept you need for this moment is to digest what the "image sharing" web sites are now doing to kiosks and print centers... Here is a rule of thumb to carry around.
According to Webshots (400 million images on their system - 17 million users - sharing around 85 percent of their images) out of 100,000 uploaded images under 1000 are printed. Active sharing rules...
Oh, and without "tagging" most shared images are useless?
That enough to get me in trouble so ...