Port Washington, N.Y. — Half of all cellphone users own a camera phone, but only 20 percent of camera phone owners bother to send images wirelessly to friends and family, The NPD Group said.
More than 80 percent of camera phone owners use their phones to take pictures but typically leave the pictures on their phones, treating their mobile phones as portable digital photo albums and robbing carriers of airtime revenue, NPD said.
Only 2.9 percent said they typically transfer a camera phone photo from a removable memory card for storage on their PC, said Neil Strother, mobile devices research director. And only 3.3 percent said they typically print a camera phone photo via a home printer, by taking a removable card to a store or by wireless transfer to an in-store kiosk, Strother said.
The rate at which camera phone shutterbugs print out their pictures, Strother said, will likely increase as the selection of camera phones with removable memory cards increases and as more cameras sport megapixel cameras, making the pictures more print-worthy.
However often pictures are printed in the future, carriers hope consumers will also send them more often over the cellular airwaves to others.
"When these devices were first introduced, carriers expected to earn additional revenue from subscribers who chose to take, share and print photos," Strother said "but for the most part, that hasn't happened. Instead, we've seen consumers simply taking photos and leaving them on their phones, which obviously doesn't enhance carriers' balance sheets."
One of the key deterrents is consumer uncertainly over the cost of photo sharing, said Strother. "Six out of 10 subscribers aren't entirely sure what the price is for sending a picture message, which means they are less likely to do so. A concerted education and marketing effort by carriers would go a long way toward solving this problem."
The NPD survey of more than 8,000 adults and teens, conducted in February, also found that 73 percent of respondents were satisfied with their camera phones. Sanyo handset owners showed the highest ranking with more than 75 percent overall satisfaction. Among carriers, Alltel ranked highest with nearly nine in 10 subscribers claiming they are satisfied with their camera phones.