What are people doing with camera phones?

* Survey respondents say camera phones will replace digital, film cameras

In a recently released survey, online photo service provider Snapfish revealed that 56% of those surveyed (500 Americans) said they think camera phones will replace digital and film cameras within the next two decades.

Despite the big 20-year prediction cycle (won't we have flying cars and time machines by then?), the survey offers some additional data regarding the use of camera phones by consumers these days.

For example, 62% of camera phone users are storing their images on their phones rather than using a storage or sharing option. Snapfish argues that this proves that getting photos off the phone so people can do what they want with them remains one of the biggest issues for camera phone users. While that rings somewhat true, I'd also argue that image quality on the phones is another driving reason - there's no reason to really transfer the photo to make a print if the end result is a lousy photo. Also, since most camera phones don't have memory card slots (yet), transferring the photos from the phone to a PC or an online service is a really big hassle. With more camera phones coming out with new memory card slots (especially Trans-Flash memory cards), storing and transferring photos will become much, much easier.

In the Snapfish survey, poor picture quality was the biggest gripe about camera phones (61%); also cited was the high cost of sharing (31%) and difficulties in transferring photos to an online service or PC (25%). Only 22% of camera phones are printing their images, despite interest from 73% of those surveyed. Again, photo print quality (80%) and price (63%) were cited as the most important criteria for printing photos from a camera phone.

New camera phone features that got the highest interest included zoom (52%), automatic transfer of photos to a PC (45%) and a flash (42%). And for the most part, people are taking photos with their camera phones in pretty much the same places that they take photos with digital or film cameras: at home (75%), family gatherings (58%) or on vacation (45%).

More interesting were some of the new places people were taking photos with their camera phones: at work (40%), sporting events (33%), on dates (17%) and at the birth of a new child (13%). The survey didn't say whether the photos were taken in the actual delivery room, or after in the recovery room. And what kind of photos are people taking with camera phones while on a date? Are people taking photos of their blind dates so they can show to friends later?

Anyway, the survey has me intrigued to poll the readership on the current state of camera phones. Do you have one yet? What have you been taking pictures of? Do you transfer the photos off the phone, either to an online service, another phone (via Multimedia Messaging Service) or e-mail address? Do you print the photos?

Send e-mail to mailto:kshaw@nww.com, and if you feel like it, tell me what we'll see first in the next 20 years - a good camera phone or flying cars.

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