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April 2, 2008

Growing together: Cameras and Internet

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Four new devices were announced today aimed at emerging markets. Whilst there’s nothing unusual in itself about that, what is different is how, and why, those devices come packing good quality cameras.

Whilst doing surveys in rural India, researchers discovered the importance of cameras on phones for emerging markets.

During a survey trip to India in 2007, a member of the survey team reported

“I took lots of pictures of the kids in the village — because their joy in seeing a picture of
themselves is beyond compare. It would be easy to infer that having a camera on a device
would be a great thing, but after visiting a couple of houses, I realized that there are no
mirrors. So these kids were fascinated by their own image as much as the fact that I could
take a picture of them with my camera phone!”

According to Lyra Research, it’s expected that by 2009, the total number of camera phones shipped worldwide will surpass the total number of conventional and digital cameras shipped in the entire history of photography. The first camera went on sale less than 10 years ago.

Design is also a big part of devices for emerging markets. Not just how something looks but thinking about how and where the device will be used. Dust-resistant coatings to improve reliability, using the right materials and technology to ensure affordability and playful colours and styling to fit in with lifestyle.

When it comes to Internet access, emerging markets have one of the biggest challenges of them all – a complete lack of infrastructure. For many, accessing the Internet through their mobiles is the only connection they can have with the outside world. Mobiles are more accessible than PCs and now the PC is no longer necessary to access the Internet, the next billion Internet users will be very different from the first billion.

These are exciting times for places such as Africa and India.