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Over the years I’ve heard many people compare digital cameras to smartphones by using metaphors.

Why metaphors? The power of metaphors is that they can trigger new thoughts or insights that go beyond the obvious. In the matter of cameras vs. smartphones: gain a deeper understanding of these photo capture platforms’ respective strengths & weaknesses than one typically already has from just reviewing product stats or usage data.

And why would that deeper understanding matter?

For one, if you’re considering allocating resources to either platform (for instance, as a retailer, consumer, employee, investor, or ecosystem partner), the better you understand how one capture device platform compares to the other, the smarter decisions you can make.

Or, if you need to make crucial decisions as to how either capture platform will be used in the future, the better you understand their current differences, the smarter assumptions you’ll be able to make about their future (which, BTW, is the topic of our The Camera is Dead – Long Live the Camera panel at Visual 1st this year).

So here are some comparisons I have heard (for good measure, I added a few more that my partner Alexis and I came up with when brainstorming about this topic, granted some of them after a glass or two :-)):

A digital camera compared to a smartphone camera is like …

Maglite compared to a flashlight iPhone app

A hunting knife compared to a Swiss Army knife

A convection oven compared to a toaster oven

A personally attended seminar compared to a podcast

An IMAX movie compared to a streamed Netflix movie

A rented movie DVD compared to a streamed Netflix movie

Mercedes compared to a Honda Civic

Mercedes compared to a Tesla

A remote control compared to Amazon Echo

Group email compared to Slack messaging

Webex compared to Zoom

A gourmet dinner compared to fast food

BestBuy compared to Amazon

Adobe Photoshop compared to Lightricks Photofox

The takeaway? Next time when someone makes this definitive-sounding comparison between digital cameras and smartphones, take it with a grain of salt. Yes, metaphors do trigger new thoughts or insights but there is no single, definitive metaphor for comparing cameras with smartphones – at least not yet!

Any insightful metaphors we missed? Add a comment!

And a few more things…

Lightricks & VSCO. Yeah, 1 ½ unicorns among previous Visual 1st presentersLightricks just raised $135M and has reached that coveted status of being a unicorn.  At Visual 1st 2017, co-founder Itai Tsidon told us that the app stores’ change of policies to allow selling subscriptions would enable his company to increase revenues above what he’d otherwise considered a natural ceiling of $10M in annual revenues. Guess what? The company now has 3M subscribers, has tripled its revenues each year over the past three years, is profitable, and has 260 employees.

While not growing as spectacularly fast, VSCO also greatly benefited from being able to sell app subscriptions, as described in this Forbes article. VSCO doubled its revenues last year to $50M, and previously raised $90M at a valuation of $550M.

Hypno. What’s best: offering your technology as a tool or as a service? Hypno is going back to the tool approach by beta-launching Instant – a platform for capturing, processing and sharing video instantly, and at scale. Instant is the tech stack Hypno used to build its $9M/yr. social content business.

Kodak Moments. Photo kiosks are finally starting to look modern and attract today’s photo customers: smartphone photographers. Kodak Moments (a division of Kodak Alaris) launches the M1 order station, aimed at retailers and available as a countertop or as a free-standing unit suitable for high-traffic areas.

Photo Finale. White-label photo e-commerce services provider, Photo Finale announced that Rite Aidhas launched its online photo service on the Photo Finale platform. Photo Finale is on a roll this year, after also announcing that Canada-based London DrugsDiscount Drug Mart, and Kinney Drugs have moved their online services to the Photo Finale platforms.

Canon, Nikon and the rest. How Canon, Nikon and other Japanese camera companies are fighting for survival in the Smartphone era. Nothing really new in this CNBC story, but the title says it all. The main takeaways: of Japan’s eight digital camera makers, a group which includes Nikon, Canon and Fujifilm, only one posted sales and profit growth in the most recent annual period: Sony. The digital camera market declined to 19M unit sales in 2018 (while over 400M smartphones were sold globally in 2018). The article concludes that cameras are fated to be a niche, hobbyist market. The vendors’ main response: market diversification – shifting resources to the markets for imaging sensors, medical equipment imaging products and other B2B products.

Shutterfly & Lifetouch. Those who thought that Lifetouch could continue its own independent course after the acquisition by Shutterfly should know better by now. Case in point: Greg Hintz, SVP Corporate Development of the mothership Shutterfly, is named president of the Lifetouch division. We look forward to seeing how he will modernize Lifetouch and further leverage any synergies with the rest of Shutterfly and (soon) Snapfish.

Samsung. Happy to announce that Suzanne De Silva will join us in our The Camera is Dead – Long Live the Camera panel at Visual 1st.

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Hans Hartman

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