Mobile photography has exploded beyond the dreams of most industry executives. With smartphones, consumers are capturing more photos than ever. Where households used to have (maybe) one camera share, every person in the house now has a high-resolution camera at their fingertips, ready to capture photos and videos of every moment.
According to a recent InfoTrends blog post, analyst David Haueter notes “smartphones have become the primary camera for most consumers and there’s no sign of that changing as the photography capabilities of these devices evolve and get better with each new generation. The potential for these devices to generate photo print orders is huge with the sheer numbers of them that will be used for photography and the growing number of photos people are taking from their smartphones, but that doesn’t mean people will print from them.”
In the recently completed 2015 U.S. Mobile Imaging Study, InfoTrends notes there are some bright spots on the horizon. While the level of printing – especially from mobile devices – is not where the industry would like it to be, the study notes there is still an untapped market.
About 27 percent of those in InfoTrends’ survey said they had printed from their mobile phone and would do it again, while 7 percent tried it and won’t print again. (Boo!) The encouraging part is 23 percent of respondents said they “plan to but haven’t tried it yet,” while yet another 16 percent said they “didn’t realize they could print mobile phone photos, but would like to.” Even if half of that combined 39 percent became active printers, that would be a big boost for the photo category.
The study also noted respondents within the ages of 13-24 were the most likely to say they plan to print from their mobile phones but haven’t tried it yet. As Haueter writes: “Many of the people that fall into this age category have grown up with mobile devices and have no sentimental attachment to prints that those of us who are older had from growing up with film prints, yet there is a fairly high level of interest in printing their mobile phone photos.”
Of course, there are those curmudgeons who just won’t print from their mobile phones: About 27 percent. But then, back in the hey-day of analog, about 20 percent of households didn’t own any camera, so there has always been a segment of the market that is unresponsive to hardcopy. The key of the industry is to make the most of the opportunity for those consumers who want to print, by making the UI easy to use and provide photo-realistic previews of photo gifts and projects. If the consumers can see how their projects will turn out, they are more likely to buy.