updated 10:25 am EST, Thu December 22, 2011
NPD sees smartphones leading in photography
Smartphones are now responsible for more than a quarter of the photos and videos people take in the US, new NPD studies suggest. About 27 percent of shots taken in 2011 came from a smartphone, whether it was an iPhone, Android, or other device. Dedicated cameras, meanwhile, dropped from 52 percent down to 44.
The shift was having a direct impact on sales for the categories most likely to be affected. Sales of compact still cameras were down 17 percent over the course of nearly all of 2011, and pocket camcorders like the defunct Flip line were down 13 percent. Conventional but flash-based camcorders were themselves down eight percent.
Most of the survivors were in camera categories where users could take photos that were clearly better or different than on a smartphone. DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras were up to 12 percent, and superzoom compacts with 10X or longer-reaching lenses were up to 16 percent.
Executive director Liz Cutting explained the shift as a virtue of what kind of photos were taken as much as the technology. Although smartphones were becoming "good enough," she said, many more were taking photos of in-the-moment situations than before because they had the smartphone with them. Major events still saw users bring their dedicated cameras to get the best possible quality.
Most of the credit for smartphone camera use has gone to Apple. The iPhone and 4S top Flickr's popularity lists, often beating dedicated cameras. Apple has also progressed from considering the camera a near-incidental component to a central feature, and photography or social apps like Hipstamatic, Instagram, and Twitter have encouraged casual photography that can be shared almost immediately.