In June 1994, I bought my first digital camera: an Apple QuickTake 100. It was the first consumer-level digital camera and cost about $695. Developed jointly by Apple and Kodak, it was a fascinating breakthrough device.
On the day I bought the camera, I connected it via serial cable to my Mac, installed the QuickTake 1.0 software (from a floppy disk) and downloaded the first digital photos I had ever taken. I brought the pictures into Photoshop and started editing them; these were images that did not come from film and did not require scanning. Wow, I thought, how much time am I going to save with this nifty little camera.
Well, not so fast. The images had a resolution of 640×480 pixels (about one third of a megapixel in today’s terms) and were not very useful for print reproduction. But they were perfect for standard definition video display and I could see how they could be used in presentations and slide shows.
Over the next few years, while I was fiddling around with the novelty of digital photography, I continued using my Canon 35mm SLR to shoot film negatives and transparencies. I’d shoot rolls of film and drop them off at the local camera store for processing and print making and continued to do this for many more years. It wasn’t until 2000 that I made the transition permanently to digital photography.
Fast forward to 2012 … Last weekend, for the first time I deposited a check into my bank account using the mobile banking app on my iPhone. I also shot a video and took photos of a family picnic in my back yard and posted the photos and video to my Facebook page immediately. I was even able to assemble and edit my video clips using the iMovie app on my iPhone.
And, on the same weekend, I saw someone using an iPad to shoot video of a football scrimmage … they were using the iPad screen as a viewfinder as they followed the players down the football field.
Needless to say, in the 18 years between these different experiences, camera technology has undergone a transformation. The last two decades have seen the replacement of conventional film photography with digital photos, but also more recently, the displacement of single purpose digital cameras (both video and still) by smartphones.
The pace and magnitude of these dual transformations are seen clearly in the answers to the following questions:
When did digital photography eclipse film photography?
In 1990 100% of photography was analog/film based. Ten years later, in 2000, just 99% of photography was still analog while 1% was digital. The big change took place over the past decade. By 2011, 99% of photography was digital and 1% film.
How many photos are being taken?
It has been estimated (by 1000memories blog) that since photography was first invented in 1838, there have been 3.5 trillion pictures taken. Today, every two minutes, we snap as many photos as were taken by all of humanity in the entire 19th century. In 1990 there were 57 billion photos taken, in 2000 there were 86 billion taken and in 2011 there were 380 billion taken.
Are mobile and smartphones replacing cameras and camcorders?
It has been estimated (by NPD Group) that in 2010 camera phones accounted for 17% of all images while point and shoot and camcorders accounted for 52%. In just one year, these numbers changed to 27% by camera phones and 44% by point and shoot and camcorders. The balance of the imagery is still dominated by higher end digital photographic and video equipment.
Where are all the digital photos being stored?
The biggest library of online photos is Facebook. It has been estimated (by pixable blog) that over 100 billion photos have been uploaded into Facebook its by users. The following is a list of the top photo sharing sites and their image volumes:
- Photobucket: 10 billion photos
- Picasa: 7 billion photos
- Flickr: 6 billion photos
- Instagram: 400 million
Instagram is the fastest growing online photo sharing technology and it was purchased by Facebook earlier this year for $1 billion.
The ubiquity and ease of use of cameras on smartphones—capable of shooting high quality color photos and video—combined with social networking and photo sharing have led to an explosion in digital photography. Almost anyone can capture a scene at any time and people are doing it, all the time.
As with other developments in our digital world, a transformation of one kind—the replacement of film by digital photography—is not fully completed when a transformation of another kind—the replacement of digital point-and-shoot cameras and camcorders by camera and smart phones—accelerates the entire process and evolves in an unanticipated direction.
It is these sudden and unexpected twists that make navigating the business environment such a complex task. The challenges facing Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy reorganization last January, is an expression of the way these rapid changes can impact companies and entire industries. Once the king of analog photographic equipment and supplies as well as an originator of the digital camera revolution, Kodak announced on August 23 that it was selling off its film division.
The ability to see and understand the convergence and successive waves of digital transformation, and the way these impact the behavior of our customers, is the only way to keep pace in our rapidly changing world and make plans for the future.