Take a look at your cellphone. Now take a look at your camera. Pretty sad, huh? It’s a big chunky old thing, with knobs and dials for navigating menus. It’s also dumb, and disconnected. To edit and share your photos, you need a computer. To get those photos onto your computer, you have to plug the camera in with a cable. Did anybody tell Nikon or Canon that this is 2012 already?
Your cellphone, on the other hand, will let you snap, edit and share your photos in seconds, and even place them on a map so you can find them later. Camera manufacturers are understandably terrified by this, but what can they do? The answer might be Android.
Polaroid has already announced Smart Camera, a compact running Android and equipped with a Wi-Fi radio. And it is indeed smart. Think about it: Android is an OS designed to run on small-screen devices with limited batteries. It manages this whilst using GPS, Wi-Fi, cellular data and more. Plus, you can skin it and load on just about any app you like.
Android’s touch-screen experience might be lacking for general use, but for a camera it should be fine. Add in a custom-skinned version of the OS, access to a limited app store with photography-related apps, remove the 3G radio and giant, power-sucking screen and put the whole thing into a decent 6-10MP camera and you could strike gold.
Who wouldn’t want to be able to shoot a photo with a proper camera, edit that photo right there on the camera, then upload it to Twitter or Facebook or Flickr? Who wouldn’t want to be able to download a new kind of camera for a couple dollars, or new filters for their photos? And who wouldn’t want to become a better daughter or son by using an app to send a real postcard back home to the folks while you’re on vacation?
And now, with Instagram on Android, Instagram itself could sell a self-branded camera. With the right styling, and the right price, it could make a cheap, digital version of the Lomos and Holgas of the film world. Hell, the company might even start making money.
And remember, if it has Wi-Fi inside, it can also connect to your iPad or iPhone, should you feel the need.
Now, it might be too late. Almost every cellphone these days has a half decent camera, and that’s enough. I have a great Micro Four Thirds camera, but even that has all but been supplanted by the camera in my iPad 3. But if Olympus or Nikon or Instagram comes up with a connected camera that’s does everything an iPhone or iPad camera can do, then they might just save their business.