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Wireless Photography: Why

The research firm IDC polled 500 digital camera owners for their thoughts on “wireless imaging.” The poll and resultant report was sponsored by Nikon. 

Here are some nuggets:

  • only 8 percent of respondents cited owning a wireless digital camera
  • more than 60 percent of respondents cited that they would be somewhat or much more likely to consider one camera over another should it include wireless connectivity.
  • consumers would pay an average of $78 more for wireless connectivity in their next camera purchase, and Nikon owners are willing to pay $86 more
  • When digital camera owners were asked to rank the importance of specific features in their next digital camera purchase, they ranked wireless connectivity sixth and seventh out of eight features tested.

 Clearly, as the IDC report noted, a few companies have taken stabs at wireless, including Canon and Kodak, but only Nikon has stuck with it. What do they see that the others don’t?

Nikon senior VP David Lee, during our roundtable, offered this

We see continued potential there. I think it’s a technology that may be a bit before its time for the average consumer. The early adopters are enjoying it. It touches on an important issue as to what consumers are doing with their images. How are they storing them? How are they transferring them? In the future, I think wireless can be an important part of how we archive, store and transfer images. It’s not totally ready for prime time, but it’s right on the edge.

One of the interesting elements of the IDC study was the camera phone discussion. IDC looked at it from the cannibalization angle:
As the capability to take pictures with mobile phones slowly spread throughout the world, early prognostications were that the sharing functionality supported by wireless broadband would cannibalize the digital camera market. The opposite happened; camera phones continue to lag behind digital cameras in terms of pricing, features, and style, and consumers have continued to view the two devices as having separate, yet valued uses.

I think that’s true, but isn’t the implication here that there isn’t much of a demand for wireless sharing? If consumers were hot to email images from the road, then camera phone usage rates would be booming, right?