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Saturday, 25 March 2023


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That's an interesting article; a real tale from the trenches.

There's on interesting point, however, and that's his mention of the iPhone announcement as "[the day] consumer digital photography changed forever". There had been cameras in phones for years by then - although Blackberry didn't have them, Nokia and Motorola (who dominated the consumer market in those early years) did, and had for some years before the launch of the iPhone. I wonder if commentators, even those close to the action, are mentally moving the impact of smartphone photography on consumer cameras back into a time when that impact had still to happen?

What's also interesting is that the camera on the original iPhone was truly horrible - 2Mp resolution, fixed focus, horrible dynamic range, etc. Steve Jobs spent about 15 seconds in the whole 90 minute presentation talking about the camera. At the same time Canon's basic consumer line of digital cameras (the A400 range) had a zoom lens and 5Mp resolution, while the Digital Elph of 2007 had an 8Mp sensor, 3x zoom lens, and a 3" LCD back screen.

Very interesting. Actually predictable.
Back in the early 1970s, I took a job with Analog Devices, an up and coming tech company that became a powerhouse in the IC business. One of the people I work with was a older MIT type (Cy, a whiz with a slide rule - this was before ubiquitous electronic calculators - who drove a BMW 2002 - quintessential MIT type) who was working on market research. Cy came up with a version of the business lifecycle curve that fits tech perfectly.

When you introduce new tech, there is a blip from the early adopters and the people who have been waiting for the solution you just introduced. After that blip, it falls off until it gets into the classic business cycle: growth, maturity, decline.
It's easy to see how this fits digital cameras - think about the sales of DSLRs, digital compact cameras, mirrorless, then think about the sales of personal computers in the 80s, cell phones, smart phones, tablet computers, etc.
But it also fits the lifecycle of other events including the ones created for the Internet - user groups in the late 80s/early 90s, web sites in the mid 90s, blogs in the late 90s, social medial of all types.
Here is an example. I started creating web pages in 1994 - at the time there were sites counting the number of web pages and I was in the first 30,000. I had also been digitizing images for my company and using one of the first digital cameras, branded H-P but made by Konica, a miraculous VDA resolution (640X480 pixels!). I began posting photos online and had lots of traffic and requests for use. I had a rock group in Germany and a bar in Rio using my photos for their promo. Then along came photo sites and traffic to my pages declined precipitously. At one point I had portfolios on JPG magazine - remember them? Gone. How many photo sites have come and gone?
Then there are bigger sites like AOL and Yahoo.
We're already seeing the waning popularity of social media platforms, email is waning in favor if messaging, phone calls to Zooming.
It's all part of the life cycle.

Now, Mike, what you are seeing is part of this lifecycle - we hardcore readers will stick around, but others will move on.

But there is more to consider and I only have so much time to create the post. I'll put that in the next post.

Following on about the tech lifecycle.
There are other things working in the background that make life difficult. Most people have naively assumed that tech is benevolent or at least neutral, but I beg to differ. I've been in tech for 50 plus years and actually wrote a book about tech's mismanagement about 5 years ago but no publisher would touch it, so I published it myself. I ended up giving away more copies than I sold. But it was not complimentary.
The tech we have today is mostly 15+ year old hardware being fed by software created by a bunch of adolescent nerds trying to become billionaires and sometimes succeeding.
Remember the adage "move fast and break things?" Two weeks ago it became "move fast and break the bank!" And yes, I did have money in SVB - they bought the staid old Boston Bank I used two years ago and I never considered how easily they could #$%^&*() it up.
Mike complained about how his Amazon earnings declined. Amazon bought the company we used to print textbooks for the professional society I run. Today we get about half the royalties from book sales we got before.
Our host for our websites was acquired and went from a highly reliable site that had been a pioneer in the Internet to a unreliable site which nickle-and-dimed us charging for every little service.
Silicon Valley illustrates the dark side of capitalism. I say there are 4 types of VSs: the traditional venture capitalists, the vulture capitalists, the vampire capitalists and the vanity capitalists. You get the idea.
SV is only in it for the money and has no problem leaving a trail of carcasses.
.I got stories....

One final short comment. Look at that lifecycle curve again. Digital cameras are in decline because 1) smart phones provide everything most users want (and better than conventional cameras) and 2) we've reached a point where innovation is incremental - there were no major innovations in a decade and it's become a time when it's hard to justify buying a new camera because it's better.
Mike and TOP provides a service that is still relevant - discussing photography and the photographer, while those that focus on product specmanship and minute details are becoming irrelevant.
Just sayin'...

@Mike Don’t feel like you’re alone on the brain cells. I’m pretty sure mine reside next to my missing socks in the space-time continuum…

@Tom Burke Interesting observation. I wonder if the use case was more the issue than the technology. Was the iPhone the equivalent of the Kodak Brownie? Meeting the needs of the masses as opposed to the hobbyist amateur and professional? Certainly a successful business model, even if it was at the expense of a professional craft.

Those brain cells aren't missing. They just take longer to access because, over the years, you have accumulated a lot of files that you have to sort through in that cabinet file in your brain.

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