These consumer attitudes regarding digital are our mandate for action:
Consumers have little realization that their images are at risk, either their own photos or digitized business images.
They don't fully appreciate or understand the risk factors—digital corruption (e.g., a hard drive crash, virus, or alteration of files when migrating to the latest platforms), technological obsolescence (e.g., CD-Rs burned in 1995 can't be read by the newest CD/DVD drives), or simply losing images amid terabytes of data.
People have a false sense of security if they haven't been affected—they believe that it won't happen to them.
Industry responsibility is twofold. Individual vendors must develop the products and services for consumer memory-keeping and sharing. I3A's collective role is to educate customers—objectively and realistically—on both the risks they face with digital pictures and the paths to minimize such risks.
My Cloudy Crystal Ball
James L. Chung, President, International Photographic Council
In the good old days of the photographic industry, people shot as much as 10 rolls of film and paid for all the pictures, even those pictures that didn't turn out well. Photographic business was booming for retailers and manufacturers. It is no longer the same in this day of the digital transition.
Digital photography today reflects the rapidly changing nature of the industry. People shoot with a media card instead of film. They bring media cards or CDs to the retail store and pick only the prints they want, and that's not a lot. Film sales and processing are down tremendously because more digital cameras are being used and are sold today than film cameras. In 2003, digital still cameras out-sold film cameras for the first time.
Another emerging trend is the kiosk, where people can bring in a media card or CD to print the pictures they want. Film and print businesses are shrinking. Film sales are down nearly 30% annually.
The majority of people who shoot pictures with digital still cameras and cell phone cameras do not have their pictures printed. They store pictures in computers and on CDs. When something happens to their computers or damage their CDs, they lose all their images forever.
Recent market research from InfoTrends/CAP Ventures shows the average print volume per digital still camera user has been slowly declining. The total volume (film and digital) will decline over the next five years at an average annual rate of 4%.
Competition between digital still cameras and cell phone cameras is heating up, with improved product features incorporated into cell phone cameras.
The Nokia N90 cell phone camera, with a lens from Carl Zeiss wins strong demand; it went on sale worldwide this past July. Both Nokia and Samsung have produced cell phone cameras with 5-megapixels in resolution, with excellent image quality.
Cell phone cameras have allowed people in the right place at the right time to capture crucial events when there are no news cameras on location. Although the image quality is not the best, it is still valuable, and often used in TV news coverage.
United Kingdom television broadcasters like the BBC have received thousands of video images of the recent London terrorist bombings, captured on cell phone cameras by commuters caught up in the tragedy.
Cell phone camera images were also used by news broadcasters following the Asian tsunamis in December of 2004.