Cameras are now getting just as smart as mobile handsets, and it’s about time too. One of the most anticipated launches of this season has been Samsung’s Galaxy Camera. The device brings with it Google’s full throttle Android Jelly Bean OS that’s being splashed all across billboards, print and TV ads showing off all the connectivity that Android offers.
Of course, cameras with connectivity have been around for a long time along with third party alternatives like Eye-Fi cards. Canon’s IXUS 240 HS comes with built in Wi-Fi and social sharing capabilities for Rs. 16,000. That’s almost half the price of the new Samsung Galaxy Camera (Rs. 29,900) that is being heavily promoted at the moment. The IXUS 240 HS also provides you with up to 10GB of online cloud storage on Canon Image Gateway. All of this enabled within the confines of Canon’s built in OS and UI. Nikon’s S800c, which was also launched recently, is priced at about Rs. 20,000. It also has a 16MP sensor, but only 10X optical zoom as compared to the Galaxy’s 21X.
Sure, it’s going to be awesome to have cloud storage available on the fly, supplementing your availability of space for more “memories”. It’s always great to have GPS logged into your images so you can plot your pictures in a map, and it’s definitely a good idea to have instant sharing of photos and videos for the social networker in us. But all of these qualities have been prevalent in mobile handsets cheaper than Rs. 10,000 for well into a year now. So how come we haven’t seen any smart digicams priced in that range? Why are mundane features being marketed as some sort of premium USPs? It seems like it’s merely a matter of enticement.
Why so high priced?
Spice had launched a 12MP camera phone back in 2010 called the S-1200 that also featured 3X optical zoom; it was priced at Rs. 14,500 back then. It was not a smartphone, but it did support EDGE as 3G was yet to make its impact. Add a few more tweaks, take in Android’s open source system and existing low budget and you’ve got yourself a low budget, high-end cellphone with a full fledged digicam as well. A company called Altek also launched a 14MP smartphone (Android) with 3X optical zoom around October the same year in Europe. Keep in mind these are not your traditional camera manufacturers.
This typically should have been something camera manufacturers should have thought of a long time ago. It’s not like Android is an issue to use in portable devices. It’s all over the place in TV boxes, ultra low budget handsets and tablets, PMPs etc. The delay for it to be used suitably in a budget point and shoot camera is unforgivable.
Mark my words, an entry level point and shoot camera will soon make its way out the minds and sketch books and onto production lines. And I won’t be surprised if companies like Micromax and Karbonn decided to dabble in the digital camera industry. Maybe we’ll soon see ultra low budget digicams for as low as Rs. 6000, complete with Android Jelly Bean, Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS, from these manufacturers before the camera majors take notice and do something about it.