The future of the point-and-shoot (there isn’t one)

Point and shoot use on Flickr

MG Siegler at TechCrunch has put together another interesting article, this time on the future of the point-and-shoot camera. His basic point is that the industry is behind the curve and needs to evolve quickly to catch up in the social game. Though he makes some good points, I think it’s too late.

Siegler starts his article with an anecdote about his latest camera purchase, a high end Canon point-and-shoot, the S95, which he also says he uses five percent of the time. I can’t imagine why you would spend $400 on a camera you would use so little, particularly when the impetus behind most point-and-shoots is having pictures you can share. There are plenty of options at the prosumer DSLR level that can take better pictures for hardly more cost. If you need something more social, get a decent phone.

Siegler mentions all of this, but I think it’s actually too late for the point-and-shoots to make the necessary changes. Phones are just too far ahead. Sure, the S95 takes vastly superior pictures to my iPhone, but the times I want to take decent pictures I plan ahead. The rest of the time, I don’t want to be carrying another device with me. My phone is plenty sufficient if it means I don’t have to keep track of another device.

As cell phone cameras continue to improve, point-and-shoots will be more and more marginalized. Sure, there are still people buying them – a fairly significant part of the market – but dedicated devices rarely do well for everyday use. This is the same reason we aren’t going to see the Peek take off. Yes, it’s nice for checking email or tweeting, but do you really want to carry around the same device. Granted, a good point-and-shoot offers much more functionality than the Peek does, but it’s the same physical limitation. I don’t always want to have a bag with me, or worry about whether I’ll break something important if I put my camera in my pocket. I want something quick and usable, not something for taking super high-quality pictures. If I want that, I’ll take my DSLR. I don’t need an in-between.

Of course, that’s also where Siegler’s article ends. It seems for him that the dream of a connected point-and-shoot is truly a dream, and one that won’t be realized before smartphones have killed the market segment.

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