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Home >> Will GPS, Wi-Fi Be Accessories?
TWICE: Does the Eye-Fi card indicate to you that maybe this is the right model for features like wireless and GPS to make their way into the consumer marketplace as an accessory vs. building those features and adding that cost to the camera itself?
Magee: I do. We did introduce a built-in Wi-Fi camera. It was maybe a little bit ahead of its time. We were all pretty wowed by it when we first produced it, but frankly it had limitations. So the accessory business is one of great interest to us. The SLRs do it with lenses. I think in our point-and-shoot business we are going to do it with GPS or wireless.
The retailers have the opportunity to sell an accessory at a higher margin level, and it is a win-win from our perspective.
Stewart Henderson: It really is a win-win. That really meets a couple of needs. The consumer really needs to expand and get into different technologies. The retailers need to create extra margin generators.
Lubell: I think the question of having it baked in is whether the customer experience is better by having it baked in. What is the experience like? That will determine whether it should or shouldn't be inside the camera.
Hunter: We talk about features and it gets back to the general question — "What is the feature, is it understandable, why do I need it, is it compelling?" Then there are downstream questions like, "Do I pay for it now and get it on board, or do I want to enjoy the flexibility of adding it later whether perhaps the technology has had a chance to evolve to meet my needs?"
Lee: Nikon is on its fifth generation of wireless camera. Others may have quit but we kept going forward, and while it is not a huge section of the marketplace, we do have quite a following, and our studies show that we have people that have upgraded from one wireless model to the next wireless model. There are certain customers that want it baked in, if you will.
Cutting: I think the technology is there but within a camera it is still very nascent. We have nine wireless cameras on the market which includes the Easy Share One and it is still less than 1 percent.
Pepple: I love technology but a camera for me has never been a Swiss Army knife. For example, geo-tagging is a wonderful thing if you have a straight shot at the sky. There will be limits to the technology although I think geo-tagging has one of the most explosive potentials, beyond Wi-Fi.
Peck: It really depends on what people do with their cameras. I've got two young kids and for the most part they're happy to take their pictures and put their photos up on Facebook or to pass the camera around at the party so people can look at the LCD screen.
It is great to put all these features in, but if people are not using it, then what is the point?
Lee: I think Eliott brings up a great point. One of the things that these technologies are supposed to do is help us get the images from one place to the other. One of the biggest challenges in the industry still is that all of these images are very vulnerable. They're on computers, they're on disks, they are not stored and not printed, and print is actually a great storage device.
Insurance companies say one of the things people go back into a burning house for is their photos. I think there really is an opportunity there for a manufacturer or a retailer.
TWICE: This is a topic that has come up frequently. In your view it sounds like more needs to be done. Why is it proving to be such a stubborn issue?
Lee: Until they lose it, they don't realize it. Somebody who has lost images is far more diligent in archiving and saving than someone who hasn't. It's really a convenience issue. I don't think anyone has found that magic bullet that makes it easy.
Lubell: I think the perception for consumers is that it's digital so it is always going to be there. With changing consumers' habits, sometimes the best intentions don't come to fruition. Sometimes consumers dictate to the manufacturing community how they want to handle their images.
Cutting: When someone shops, you may hear them say, "I want to buy a warranty," but I don't hear enough of "What about backup?" I don't hear about "What about printing?" and "What about sharing?" That doesn't happen. We shouldn't be selling hardware — we should be selling a whole imaging lifestyle.
Henderson: We have an online storage site as well, and over the past year or so we find the need for more and more and more storage.
Magee: There is not one answer. In the digital age people want a lot of choices.
Pepple: We see a tremendous amount of use of Get the Picture Online as a secondary backup location. We're also working with retailers to make new outlets for photography — scrap-booking and photo books — so that they don't just rely on the four by six print anymore.
Peck: Photography should be fun. This is a responsibility that the manufacturers and retailers all share — how do you keep this vibrant and how do you keep it profitable? It's more than just taking that snapshot and putting it onto your computer. It's changing the habit of what people do after they take their photos.
Hunter: For us, it is OK for a photo to equal a digital image rather than a photo to equal a print. They can be equally compelling depending on the consumer focus.