Smartphone killed the video camera star

Earlier this week I did something I haven’t done for around three years and for the salacious among you I am talking about cameras and not anything else, you filthy-minded creatures.

Yes, I used a camera. Not an old Olympus SR or a wonderful Leica, but just a bog-standard digital camera as we lit the cake for my son’s birthday party. How weird not to use a mobile, or to call it by its 2011 name, a smartphone.

I would suggest that my experience is matched by millions of other people who don’t see the point of another device and shows how fast things move in media nowadays. It took decades for the use of 35mm film to be discarded in favour of digital and now it’s taken less than five years to see the digital camera begin to disappear.

Naturally, for the hard-core photographer and if Twitter profiles are anything to go by nearly everybody is a photographer nowadays, digital cameras will remain but the disruptive nature of smartphones continues to decimate the landscape (so to speak).

To draw a portrait (so to speak), the news this week that Cisco has shut down Flip, the video camera it bought for $590 million comes as no surprise, but that was some four-year journey. Set up in 2007, market dominance by 2008, sold in 2009 and then closed in 2011. As the song goes, things move pretty fast nowadays.

Strange then, that smartphone pictures haven’t had a huge effect on social media. While it’s easy to post instant pictures on Twitter, especially if one is witness to a revolution, tragedy or celebrity, things haven’t kicked on. I don’t know of anybody on Twitter who has a significant following because of a photograph.

Perhaps that has something to do with Twitter’s interface. A link to Twitpic or the like is a big undertaking in a world where a clickthrough is a commitment akin to being tattooed on the neck. Like many others, I do it sometimes but posting a picture would be more effective if it could be seen as quickly as text.

The same goes for video. It’s a palaver to post a video on YouTube or other picture-sharing sites and those micro-video sites such as 12 seconds seem to have had their five minutes, but I can see from the people I follow that people are doing it less.

So, here’s a Twitpic I prepared earlier. Will you click on it? Will you not? But, believe me, it’s a picture of the best mullet you will ever see… taken with a smartphone naturally.

Monty (664 Posts)

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.