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« Q2 Smartphone Market Top 10 Numbers | Main | Anticipating Apple Strategy Shift with iPhone, with Warning From History »

August 31, 2017

Comments

Masson

Why couldn't Nokia release this camera? Also, Apple would probably use integrated memory instead of memory cards.

Richard

The idea is brilliant but Apple is being upstaged by someone who has a similar vision, the Red Hydrogen phone.

tz

Unless you have a 2 inch sensor, 100MP will make things worse as the pixels are smaller than the wavelengths of light.
One thing I don't see is a high spectral resolution camera, just RGB. 8 or 9 sensors from 950nm to 350nm? Colors change because of Illumination - a narrow spectrum yellow will look different than narrow red-green.
The other part will be how to do 32x optical zoom and fit it in your pocket. Also you need a wide opening for low light to make it good. The pinhole optics won't work.
Then there's the more common audio with video. 8K? writing all that to SD will require better speeds than we currently have. The iPhone doesn't have a uSD slot. Will the iCam?
Consider the GoPro as a model.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Masson and Richard

Masson - Nokia could, and in some ways Nokia 'did' do this type of revolutions (N 93, 808 Pureview) but current HMD Nokia doesn't have the resources (at least yet) to do anything like this. And with Nokia it is a bit of 'ho hum, not again' where they would definitely not get the excitement. If 41mp couldn't get the world astonished in 2012 when the best cameraphones were at 16mp and Apple was at 8mp, then no, Nokia even at 100mp and 32x optical zoom would not set the world on fire. It would, however, win all sorts of best camera awards haha...

As to integrated memory, sure. That is if you're thinking iPod or iPhone. But Macs and iPads DO support external storage and so do ALL stand-alone digital cameras. Here Apple would need to go with the obvious, not so much for the photographs (although haha 100mp pictures would fill up most storage real real fast) but its the Ultra HD video - THAT would kill any onboard storage and render a camera without external storage a market failure. I know you are thinking like an iPhone or iPad exec - they would argue the point - why not sell 'bigger memory' devices with more (highly profitable) permanent storage. That is hopeless if the PRIMARY purpose is to CREATE media content (ie camera, pictures or video).

Richard - thanks. I wasn't aware of the Red Hydrogen (yeah, been sleeping under a rock during the vacation, so went to take a look. Wow looks nice and I love it that it IS a phone). That would yes, be a rival to the iCamera now, in some ways and MANY would do instant comparisons like how early tablets were compared to iPads and early smart watches to Apple Watch. But first, the scale. Red won't have ANY chance of global sales in the multiple millions in the first year, because of carrier relationships. Even Apple, APPLE took a year to get to 10 million with the original iPhone and the Red Hydrogen is by no means as exciting as the original iPhone. But it is intriguing (and viciously expensive).

Apple's giant advantages are the word-of-mouth of iFans (for iCamera like I said, it would be unprecedented because the professionals whose JOB is to brainwash us - marketing people - would have their ultimate gadget from their ultimate brand). And the power of the uber-super-duper rich iPhone consumer base at the various telecoms operator customer bases - to feed THEM a new even-more-expensive iPhone, would be their ultimate wet dream. The key for 2 more years of guaranteed 'loyalty' of these iCamera owners buying new 2 year contracts to be first to get those phones....

Still yes, if Apple did it now, they'd most def also help raise the profile for Red Hydrogen (and drive their sales too, similar to how the original iPhone dumbphone helped sell more Nokia N95 smartphones and LG Prada/Chocolate dumbphones in 2007).

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi tz

Good points. 2 inch sensor size, no, don't need to go that big, 35mm 'full frame' sensor size would be plenty (which I think is about 1.4 inch? This iCamera is not attempting to beat a DSLR camera on all specs, just have the marketing glamour points and bragging rights. The 41mp sensor on the Nokia 808 Pureview was if I recall, a quarter of a full frame 35mm sensor and that was fine.

On the spectral resolution - great point. That was why I suggested that a sliding (ie dual sensor) system is probably far more cost-effective than trying to push IR spectrum capacity to the massive 100mp sensor. The IR sensor could be say 8mp in resolution and say roughly same physical size (1.3 inches) as the 100mp sensor. Then the user would hit the IR button, and the iCamera went 'buzz' for one second, and your view would go from live human vision camera to the psychedelic infra-red images. And if you pressed the IR button again, another 'buzz' sound and the image flips back to normal. So rather than attempt a very expensive 'wide spectrum' sensor, I'd do two sensors, one regular, one IR.

30x zooms do fit in the pocket look at the latest crop of pocket cams. Bulky yes, but remember, compared to any 'phone' today, this looks like a pregnant phone. Compared to any other pocket camera - same thickness. It is like vans, minivans and regular cars. When minivans came, they looked 'weird' compared to cars but they were just slightly scaled-down from full-size vans. but haha they looked like pregnant cars. Bulky and arguaby 'very ugly'. Today they are normal. I am most definitely expecting a significant hump in the iCamera and the absolute thickness in the pocket would be of the scale of two iPhone-level thickness, at least on the part where the lens and Xenon flash are. Could be as thick for the whole device, or could be a camera hump and partially less thick. It would be done 'beautiful' however, more like an Olympus camera than say the ugly Samsung Galaxy Zoom and K Zoom smartphones.

On SD, great point. I wasn't aware that the writing speed now becomes a bottleneck. Might allow Apple to 'have its cake and eat it too' doing new super-memory that only iCameras have, that is similar to microSD but not, removable yes, but only Apple proprietary, having some firewire super only-Apple standard again. That would be SOOOO Apple. Give us removable storage but ensure it is not compatible with anyone else haha.

Great comments, thanks

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Richard

Tomi
Certainly Red does not have the capability to produce tens of millions of phones but timing is important. If Red proves that a super camera smartphone can sell than other larger manufacturers (Samsung) could get interested. Samsung also has the ability to quickly get to market with such a device that Apple does not have. Anyway I love the idea and hope somebody follows up on this.
Richard

Antonio Prado

Very interesting post Tomi. As a photo enthusiast I started to wonder a few years ago why the functionality/easy controls of cameras on smartphones was not implemented by Nikon or Canon. Not on their pocket cameras, not on their DSLR's. No camera manufacturer, to my knowledge, has yet implemented the easy to use, intuitive and FAST user interface found on smartphone cameras.

Want to increase brightness up or down, draw a curve with your finger. Want HDR, just touch the HDR function to turn it on. Want to change the white balance - slide your finger across the screen. The list goes on and on. Apple is really about user interfaces. The Apple 1, but especially the first MAC and the Iphone. There would be no going back for the whole camera industry if Apple would pull this off. All manufacturers would need to adopt the new user interface.

Antonio Prado

oh forgot one important feature you don't discuss in your post. The perfect camera would need the autofocus speed, accuracy and tracking of DLSR cameras to nail moving objects, like children, cars, sports and animals.

John

What a pile of (too) long non sense.

100 megapixels, 32x zoom Carl Zeiss optics with a 4.5mm sensor, do you know anything about photography???

Your 100 megapixels with a pocket size sensor will achieve horrible artifacts inside 100 mb raw files!!

Also, why for the life of me will Apple launch a product that is helping to kill???

Wasted time on you this time. Keep dreaming.

Winter

"This is not ‘rocket science’. 40 megapixel camera sensors and 30x optical zooms already exist in pocket cameras today, that cost in price ranges of about $500 roughly - less than top end iPhones. "

Canon digital reflex cameras generally have less 25 megapixels, with a single exception of 50mp. That is with good optics and less size constraints. 40 or 100 meagapixels are not useful unless you use it for special things, like digital zoom and signal processing wizardry. And without good optics these pixels are wasted anyway. On the whole, I do not really see the benefits of this for a pocket device. Better use that money and space for better optics and better build quality.

paul

@tomi

This is the magic camera which Jobs would get:

https://light.co/camera

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi paul

Gosh, yeah, that is EXACTLY on the right path yes. Only, obviously today and with Apple resources (And as that Light camera already exists) it would go even beyond. I would guess the designers at Light are Apple (and Steve Jobs) fans haha..

Great find, thanks!

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Richard & Antonio

Richard - for Red any announcement by Apple iCamera of any capability, would dramatically boost all the attention they would get, so for them it would be essentially same effect as the obscure weird handset form factor idea LG was toying around with in 2006, of a total touch-screen device - that became the LG Chocolate and LG Prada - but after the enormous hype of iPhone in 2007, LG had a global hit phone on their hands. Red would love this development - and for some buyers, it would be an interesting alternative definitely.

Now Samsung, haha, I could see them 'doing a Nokia' like how Nokia management reacted to orig iPhone - and said in public, we tried that, it won't work. Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom is kind of a 'prototype' of this concept I have for iCamera (at modest capacity even then, but the concept is same). So as Samsung had abandoned that idea then they might be blinded by how well Apple often tends to re-invent an industry and Sammy might for once be slow to react. But 'slow Samsung reaction' might still be on par with speed of normal company 'fast reaction' times haha...

Like with Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch - once Apple were to make this iCamera, others would follow and we'd end up getting EVEN BETTER (and even CHEAPER) alternatives - only good for everybody haha...

Antonio - yes, brilliant observations and I totally agree. This is Apple's core competence, its strongest competitive advantage. Whatever they do, whether it is a huge success or not (Newton, Apple Watch) whatever they do, it is BY FAR the most user-friendly device in its category. An Apple camera of any kind, would do wonders for the camera industry, in showing how a modern smart - EASY TO USE - camera SHOULD work haha. Would be good for everybody and this part of the iCamera would be for a long time an Apple competitive advantage that say Android would be struggling to come to match (eventually they would, of course like modern Windows vs Mac, there is a trivial difference between them now, 3 decades later).

Now the Autofocus speed - gosh yes, please yes. That is EXACTLY what is needed. Trying to get a cameraphone to focus on time to snap a quick-happening picture means blurry bad pictures haha... Apple could/would/should do a fantastic job on making their camera 'take pictures faster' which is what we want. not necessarily 'faster shutter speed' etc, but the total process from pointing camera, to seeing it on the touch-screen. THAT would be part of Apple's magic. And part of it would be high-power processing and efficient code and good tech, to get the autofocus to lock on faster (and/or correct a slightly unfocused picture to seem perfectly focused, etc)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi John

I didn't say 4.5mm sensor. I was talking of full frame 35mm sensors or two-third that size, 25mm sensors, 50 times larger than what you based your argument upon. Most Canon/Nikon etc cameras have 35mm sensor sizes. So there. I win. Your whole argument that followed is moot.

Why would Apple do this? Because there IS a RARE digital market that still CAN be turned into iOS playground with potential new iSheep, that isn't yet part of the iKingdom. Another similar size market would be home videogaming console market - and THERE the exact opposite rules apply, Apple would have a nightmare time to try to break into the tripoly of Playstation, Nintendo and Xbox, because in console gaming you have to have content, tons of it. Great successful games, many that are proprietary to a given gaming platform. If we consider similar-sized roughly 100 million units at say 250 dollar average unit price - console vs camera - in cameras all the content is created by the owners of the cameras. Apple has ENORMOUS loyalty among camera geeks (due to Photoshop) but in gaming consoles? its gosh, a Microsoft and Japan-world often of youth/kids (and their parents). Of the gaming kids, often the type who are LEAST concerned about the sexy looks of an iPhone or Mac (would prefer PC/Windows PCs in gaming, actually).

What other industry would you suggest John? Cars? TVs? There are not that many areas where Apple COULD spend its vast fortunes, but cameras are WAITING to be plundered - similar to how everybody thought the music player (Walkman) industry was stagnant and in decline - when the iPod came. The big reason for Apple is the money. It is one of the VERY few possibilities where Apple could go, to get more money. They aren't getting more money out of smartphones, tablets, wristwatches or PCs, those all are now at peaks or past their peaks. And there isn't any money in say AR yet. Cameras are a RICH bonanza just waiting to be devastated by Apple. And look at my specs, and tell me this would not be a hit iToy outselling the Apple Watch, doing dozens of millions in annual sales immediately - at prices in the $1,200 to $1,500 range - with same profit MARGIN as top-end iPhones but obviously with higher prices, higher TOTAL revenues per unit, than top flaship iPhones today. Why the hell not? It would be a way to push some iFans (for whom literally money is no object) to pay more for essentially an older iPhone with just a nice camera - and it would create space ABOVE the prices of top-end iPhone phablets, that come on, $999 is not 'too much' for an iPhone 8, look at the price of the iCamera... same how a BMW 7 series helps sell more BMW 5 series cars.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Winter

I hope that you're not suggesting '640K is enough' haha. (Bill Gates's famous silly statement about early DOS based PC memory requirements and the future). So yeah, there are cameras at very high megapixel counts, and then plenty more at lower ends. That is true. I clearly stated in the article that I do not equate that just adding more megapixels equals a better camera - but the top-end cameras DO have more megapixels - and megapixel counts ARE growing, not plateaued or declining.

But I was also clear, that Apple would do this right, a large pixel count would include a LARGER physical sensor AND good optics (glass) and other 'serious' camera tech like a mechanical shutter and aperture control. Now. Is that not the recipe for a good camera? In fact a great camera? Would Apple do this badly? That is not possible. If Apple decided 'we will disrupt the camera industry' like they DECIDED to disrupt the music player industry or phone industry or wristwatch industry - if Apple decided to disrupt the camera industry - of COURSE this device, that I call iCamera, would be MAGNIFICENTLY made. It would not be a silly HTC of cheap plastics that breaks down in 5 months (or 5 weeks). It would be a 'thing of beauty' like ANY Apple product, of impeccable design and detail. Like ANY Apple product.

What I sketch out is a 'shocker device' the way Steve Jobs would do it. He would look at what is out there, what can we do to really 'blow the bank' and create a digital explosion in the media - and megapixels and zoom ratios are THE way he'd do it. He would not do the Leica way of a minimalist camera with 'quality' but nothing that is measurable or in any way 'best in the world'. Steve Jobs would INSIST that every single major measured 'spec' on the launch device is phenomenal, and in these cases, it is 'easy' to break the current levels - if you limit it to a 'pocketable' device, so yeah, doesn't need to be 100mp as I said, Apple could do just say 60mp and would have the biggest sensor on any camera ever sold. But like I said, the 100mb is the ludicrous level and its that close, that SOMEBODY is gonna do it in the next few years. This would be a phenomenal opportunity for Apple, regardless if it actually contributes relatively little to most normal pictures (but creates massive file sizes haha)

THIS WOULD NOT BE A MASS MARKET DEVICE. This would be sold to the CAMERA GEEKS. This would be 'THE' pocket camera to take pro shooters away from their DSLR camera gear. Not every pro shooter would abandon their Nikon or Canon setup - but MANY WOULD. Because if Apple did it (or if Nokia did it, but not if Samsung or HTC or LG did it, possibly if Sony did it) it would then be 'just good enough' that then this one device that the pro photographer carries, would indeed be 'the best camera with me' and there would be a HUGE switch-over from DSLR pro shooters to the iCamera.

And trickling down to stand-alone digital pocket cameras - that market would be shattered - partly because in all markets with handset subsidies - you could get a BETTER camera, from APPLE - at 'lower price' than a new digital camera from the legacy brands. We here on this blog know how much bullshit that is, but hey, the richest customers, USA, Japan, even UK - are all markets with subsidised premium phones. And then, it would decimate the Canon/Olympus/Panasonic/Nikon/Sony etc pocket camera MARKET.

This is before the HYPE that would come from the marketing and creative industry professionals 'finally' getting the iToy THEY HAVE ALWAYS WANTED. A serious digital camera from Apple. THAT hype noise would be truly greater than the top levels of iPhone hysteria in the summer of 2007.

Oh, sorry Winter, I got carried away. You said that without the other improvements the megapixels would be wasted. Did you read the blog, Winter, come on? I DID SAY that Apple would do great optics, a physical shutter, aperture control, a dedicated synchronized dual Xenon flash gun (with zoom), and all that with serious Apple software programming at every level to get the best out of the device. Yes, if it was only 100 mp on a phone, that would go to waste. If you had good Karl Zeiss optics on 32x optical zoom, in glass, with real proper camera guts like a mechanical shutter and aperture control - etc - then yes, suddenly this camera is the 'world beater' in the pocket camera range (by far) and would be a SERIOUS contender to steal pro camera users from their DSLR setups. In particular, any Pro shooter whose current digital camera setup is becoming old, rather than pay $5,000 for new gear, pay $1,500 and get the iCamera. For most it would be a 'no-brainer'.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

E.Casais

Both Red Hydrogen and Light look like prime targets for an acquisition by Apple.

From the description and specs, the Light camera looks really impressive and innovative.

Tester

@Tomi:

"But I was also clear, that Apple would do this right"

Would they? With Steve Jobs, maybe, but with Tim Cook it will immediately be compromized by some 'how can we save some money?' issues, I believe.

But overall, why the heck should Apple invest in a free-falling market? Unlike the often prophecized-to-be-doomed PC market, smartphones have been outright killing the camera market and from the looks of it there's no silver lining on the horizon.

John

Tomi, I appreciate the time you took to answer.

Regarding the opportunity still I don't think a dedicated camera (in the way you describe it) make any sense for Apple.

Besides this technically speaking you cannot place a 35mm sensor on a pocket camera the size of an iPhone, first the sensor will take half the wide of your compact camera, second; are you clear about the kind of lenses you need to cover a 35 mm sensor??

For instance, I'm not a pro photographer but I consider myself as a skilled amateur photographer, I have a Nikon 7200 (crop) and a Nikon 750 (full frame), a DX lense (as Nikon calls them) could be used with the 750, for instance the DX 18-105 could be used below 35mm, above this the vignettes are horrible.

I'm talking here about a multi optics big lens, what kind of lens will your iCamera has to cover a 35mm sensor on a device this size??

And what about the focusing and metering systems, and the image processor (where your 35mm sensor is occupying half the area of the iCamera??)

Lastly the cost of the 35mm sensor alone will raise the cost of your iDevice way above 1.5k...

LongAAPL1997

". The perfect camera would need the autofocus speed, accuracy and tracking of DLSR cameras to nail moving objects, like children, cars, sports and animals"

Don't give Samsung any ideas because next year they could introduce 100 shots per minute nail gun camera.

LongAAPL1997

About the Apple Watch. It is a success. The revenue for that is already second biggest in the market only after Rolex. They will take down the Rolex next year. It is funny how every time when Apple releases new products people say that it will fail and then Apple makes it a huge success. Apple Watch is gaining more and more people and companies who are interested of health. New Apple Watch OS is brilliant and there is more to come.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit www.tomiahonen.com Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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