News broke yesterday highlighting the fact that the iPhone 4 has become the most popular camera in the Flickr community. There are many ways to look at this information. We could point out that in April the iPhone 4 was slightly below the champ at the time in the Nikon D90 and simply two month’s later it is the current king. We could also look at how in another two month’s the iPhone 4 will have a commanding lead in terms of Flickr camera popularity.
I however am more interested about what this information tells us about the future.
We anticipate the smart phone category will grow nearly 200% over the next four years. Which means that smart phones as a whole will become the dominant way consumers take photos of things they care about. What’s more, as evidenced by the Flickr data consumers are not just taking pictures with their smart phones they will be posting them online in real time.
In fact recent data shows that every 60 seconds 6,600 photos are uploaded to Filckr. I can imagine that in the not too distant future Facebook will enter the realms of massive real-time photo uploading as well.
A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
It’s interesting to hear from consumers who lavish praise on their smart phone camera, stating how many “moments” they would have missed if they didn’t have their smart phone on them. Pictures are essentially one of the best ways to preserve memories, with perhaps only video as a better alternative.
So if we logically conclude that not only will consumers be capturing a great deal more memories and moments, plus posting them in near real time to web services, then what we are left with is an incredible preservation of time for future generations.
What I mean by that is as more and more consumers use these devices to capture the world around them, future generations will have an incredible online database of what the world was like from here on out. In fact we could even draw this out further if we use that perspective.
Future generations will have the Internet to use as their historical database which will contain news, video, images and more. When we think about what future generations will learn about us by sorting through YouTube, I hope they don’t think ill of us.
Studying history in the present, we are limited by the technology of prior generations. This generation however has some of the most amazing ways to preserve the present.
Historians or students of history in the future will have nearly no limitations on the amount of information they will have from this time period forward. It’s clear that the smart phone, with the iPhone 4 leading the way, will be the catalyst to preserve the present for future generations. It will start with images but likely also move to video captured and posted in real time.
Suffice it to say History will never be the same.