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Smartphones killing point-and-shoots, now take almost 1/3 of photos

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Camera-equipped smartphones — devices we carry with us all the time — are now in spitting distance of outnumbering traditional cameras in the percentage of photos and videos taken with them. On Thursday, the NPD Group released a study that found smartphones took 27 percent of photos in 2011, up from 17 percent last year. Traditional cameras took just 44 percent, down from 52 percent. This move from traditional cameras to smartphones for capturing images has occurred, not coincidentally, as the cameras in our phones have become far more sophisticated, and as photo-based social networks have gained popularity.

Smartphone cameras have, of course, come a long way. The original iPhone (s AAPL) debuted in 2007 with just a 2-megapixel camera. Flash forward to today, and the iPhone 4S camera boasts eight megapixels. The Android-based (s GOOG) Galaxy S II also features an 8-megapixel camera. And across many of these devices there’s a burgeoning community of photo-obsessed users. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said at GigaOM Mobilize in September he signs up a new user “every second” and that users upload 26 photos per second.

This follows Flickr’s(s YHOO) announcement this summer that the iPhone 4, released in mid-2010, is responsible for more photos posted to its site than any other device .

The move toward capturing photos with a just-good-enough camera that’s convenient because it’s in a phone already in someone’s pocket has been hard on sales of point-and-shoot cameras. Unit sales were down 17 percent this year and money spent on them down 18 percent through the end of November, says NPD.

But it’s not all bad news for camera manufacturers. Unit sales of cameras with detachable lenses are up 12 percent in the same time period, and point-and-shoots that have optical zoom greater than 10x were up by 16 percent. The takeaway: If you’re going to sell a camera, it has to be much, much better than any camera embedded in a smartphone.

3 Responses to “Smartphones killing point-and-shoots, now take almost 1/3 of photos”

  1. I was first among my friends to get a Sony DSC-P5 back in 2001. Despite being “only” 3.2MP, it still takes better pictures than my HTC TP2. It has also outlasted 3 other smartphones!

    I don’t think smartphones will ever exceed the capabilities of dedicated cameras, even if folks continue to use the former more. Smartphones are great for snapping impromptu pics for twitter and facebook thanks to data capabilities. But when it comes to holiday pics and important stuff, I’ll always reach for my point-and-shoot.

    • Data from Flickr, photo bucket and camera manufactures show clearly that the basic point & shoot is going away. Not just by mobile
      Phones but by cheap srls and 4/3 cameras. The reason why your Sony takes better shots than your HTC device is because of the size and quality of the sensor. Also better lens as well. Technology in mobile devices will surpass the P/S. look at shots from iPhone 4s and other high end android devices. And with holiday pics and other important stuff the best camera is the one that’s with you. For many if not most it’s a mobile phone. It’s not the camera that makes the shot great it’s the individual.