iPhone 4 Surging Towards Top of Flickr Popularity

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The iPhone 4 may soon be the number one camera in terms of the percentage of flickr members, according to data on the flickr.com website. Meanwhile, point and shoot cameras are showing a steady decline.

While the Nikon D90 digital SLR remains in the number one spot, in terms of percent of members, the iPhone 4 is climbing fast according to flickr’s ongoing chart.

What’s interesting to note is the Apple iPhone 4, 3GS, and 3G took the first three spots amongst popular smartphones, but when compared to the overall popularity, only the iPhone 4 broke into the top five overall. Canon cameras took slots 3,4 and 5.

This data is rather qualitative. The timeline isn’t marked with dates, and there are often problems with detecting the kind of camera used with a photo is uploaded to flickr. Even so, the iPhone 4 trend is remarkable, as is the complete absence of Android phones.

This data also raises the question about the longevity of stand-alone point and shot cameras, as Ted Landau pointed out last week. That’s an interesting technical issue because good point and shoot cameras typically have beter optics and control over the exposure than smartphones. However, consumers seem steadfast in their determination to let the megapixel count alone be the major selection factor, even though the physical size of those pixels on the better cameras is a strong factor in the quality of the image, especially in low light.

An opposing factor is sheer convenience. Smartphone users have handy access to a device that’s always on and instantly available as a camera. Many people, except for those on vacation, just don’t want to carry a point and shoot camera around.

Fortunately, our smartphone cameras keep getting better and better. Apple added an LED flash in the iPhone 4 — which doubles as a flashlight, and there have been rumors about the iPhone 5 having an 8 megapixel system from Sony. Even so, the rush towards thin phones eliminates the desirable, longer focal lengths. Olympus solves that problem on some cameras by using a prism that redirects the image down the width of the camera to the sensor, but that seems a unlikely option for Apple.

The flickr data suggests a social and technical trend that, for better or worse, predicts big changes in the consumer camera market, driven, again, by Apple. 

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Comments

mrmwebmax

+

While I don’t post to Flickr, I’m definitely one of those who has a very good point-and-shoot camera—a 12MP Pentax—yet I rarely use it, instead opting for my iPhone 4. The main reason is simple: My iPhone 4 is never more than a foot or so away from me. And the quality, while not as good as the Pentax, is certainly good enough for taking pictures of, say, my cats. (Yes, I’m one of those annoying people with hundreds and hundreds of pictures of cats, AND the desire to show off such pictures. It’s amazing I have friends.) If I need to take a really professional picture, I’ll always opt for a digital SLR.

That all said, what’s interesting about the article, as John mentioned, is the complete lack of Android phones. I’ve yet to read any article that even attempts to explain their absence.

Lee Dronick

My iPhone 4 is never more than a foot or so away from me. And the quality, while not as good as the Pentax, is certainly good enough for taking pictures of, say, my cats.

Yes, I don’t like taking the trash cans to the curb without having my iPhone. It is always with me and ready to capture that fleeting moment.

One thing we can do with iPhone photography is “focus” on composition, lighting, creative flare, angles and that sort of thing. I discovered by accident that you get some interesting distortions with the iPhone camera, kind toss photography

I need to get off of my butt and put up a page of more photos I took with my iPhone.

mlanger

Sorry, but the iPhone is NOT a camera. It is a computer with telecommunications and photography capabilities.

People who take photos with ANY phone are obviously NOT interested in the QUALITY of their photography.

It does not surprise me that so many Flickr users fill their Flickr accounts with iPhone shots—the majority of Flickr users aren’t serious about photography. Or if they are, they really need to get a clue about how it’s done and what tools do it best.

IMHO, anyway.

Substance

For those worried about the quality of smartphone images, take a look at the average family’s photo album from 80’s or earlier (by “average” I mean one where neither parent was investing in real photography gear, which was probably even fewer than today). 

Today’s smartphone images are, on average, far better than the low-end film cameras of yesteryear.  So sure it might be sad in the sense that point-and-click cameras are going away and this is creating some lowest-common denominator situation, but if one were really serious about quality one would have stepped up to a dSLR eventually.

Lee Dronick

Sorry, but the iPhone is NOT a camera. It is a computer with telecommunications and photography capabilities.

People who take photos with ANY phone are obviously NOT interested in the QUALITY of their photography.

It does not surprise me that so many Flickr users fill their Flickr accounts with iPhone shots?the majority of Flickr users aren?t serious about photography. Or if they are, they really need to get a clue about how it?s done and what tools do it best.

A quality camera doesn’t necessarily mean that the photographs taken with it are quality. It is the photographer that matters more so than the camera. That being said most people are not too interested in the quality of their photographs. They are interested in capturing the moment of their grandkids playing or whatever.

Substance

As for the absense of Android phones:
1. There are far more models of Android phones on the market than iPhones and iPod Touches, so there’s going to be wider dispersal of the Android market share across multiple phones.
2. The argument that tech savvy consumers don’t often choose Android over the iPhone probably plays here as well.  While even the least tech-savvy consumers will use the cameras on their phone - regardless of quality of if they have any chance of figuring out how to get the images off their phone and storing it somewhere on their hard drive that they will be able to find again - only the tech-savvy are going to have the motivation to post it on Flickr.
3. Android market share is sliding since the introduction of the Verizon iPhone.  I haven’t seen any numbers confirming this trend exists as it’s still early, but call it a gut feeling.

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